Taming wild reversing grain with hand planes

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Forum topic by Scott posted 10-22-2012 10:25 PM 2754 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Scott 's profile


244 posts in 2268 days

10-22-2012 10:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sapele reversing grain hand planes

I planed a few sapele boards and it wasn’t so bad with the reversing grain, but the last board was ridiculous. Nothing I could do stopped the tear out, huge chips, even with a smoothing plane. I played around a bit and found that there are a few things that will tame the wild beast.

First plane along the grain in both directions to pick the predominate grain direction, the one with the least amount of tear out. Then you will plane in that direction.

Now, I tried just planing at 45 degrees to the grain, but that didn’t do much good at all.

The magic that is required to eliminate the tear out is to hold the plane at about 90 degrees to the grain, and push the plane at 45 degrees to the grain. Voila! No tear out, and all you need to do is use a scraper at the end to smooth it out.

-- Scott in North Carolina

3 replies so far

View AKSteve's profile


475 posts in 2304 days

#1 posted 10-22-2012 10:31 PM

Great tip! I have been working with Padauk lately and it’s terrible for tear out. thanks !

-- Steve - Wasilla, Alaska

View Deycart's profile


444 posts in 2258 days

#2 posted 10-22-2012 11:11 PM

You could try a back bevel on your plane of 5-10 degrees to increase the cutting angle of the plane. I would of course in crease the primary bevel too to make sure you have a total of 30 degrees. It would turn your cutting angle from 45 to 50 or 55.

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3465 days

#3 posted 10-22-2012 11:28 PM

i had a similar experience on some rowey mahogany some time back. i read a whole bunch of comments about this on Chris Schwartz’s blog a few months ago, and there were some links to an overview by a japanese company than uses power planers on how to handle this grain. Basically, the end results was that you need some way to increase the cutting angle, having a close-set chip breaker, and use a narrow mouth – once you do those things you can get a good surface even going against the grain on any wood.

Obviously the plane will be much harder to push, but this is only for final smoothing. What this actually approaching is the geometry of a scraper plane. To do the preliminary shaping a lot of people recommend using a toothed blade.

Not the easiest thing in the world to deal with by a long shot! ;-)

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