Handplane Setup/Use - Do my plans make sense?

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Forum topic by stefang posted 06-08-2013 11:04 AM 772 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15512 posts in 2755 days

06-08-2013 11:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: hand planes

I just took delivery on some relatively good quality planes (Lie Nielsen Clones), a #4 smoother, a #5 Jack and a #6 foreplane. I thought that these would cover just about all my personal planing needs aside from my block plane. I might not really need the foreplane for the mostly small work that I do, but I couldn’t resist the temptation, and it is handy as a jointer for longer pieces or for preliminary flattening of larger panels. Here is what I bought. I think they are the same as the Wood River brand sold in the US, but the tote and knobs are of Beech designed by the company I bought them from (Dictum).

Before honing any edges and/or relieving any corners or putting a radius on any blades, I decided to do some research. I read some, watched some videos by recognized experts and also comments and videos from other lesser known, but skilled handplane users.

The one main learning point I came away with was that there are many different views on how edges should be prepared for the different planes and what they should be used for. The strange thing about it is that even though they may differ in opinion, they are all right and they all get sterling results!

Personally, I have been using my 30-40 year old Stanley Jack which I bought new, and various cheap #4 smoothers for the last few years (my jack lay dormant for many years). I can’t claim to be very knowledgeable about hand planes or their use, but I have improved my skills over the years to a certain level of mediocrity. I am pretty up on the theory, though that is a far cry from practice.

I am currently thinking that my wisest move would be to camber my Jackplane blade with maybe 1/32” down at the corners. I could then use it for rough planing sawn surfaces. In cases where I wanted to use the Jack as a jointer or to finish smooth a surface I could just put my smoother blade into the jack as they are interchangeable. My thinking is that my smoother should be straight edged with 1/64” taken off the corners, or maybe a very slight almost indiscernible camber along the entire edge. I am also thinking that my forplane should have a straight edge or be cambered very little similar to the smoother since it will also be used for jointing. I am thinking that the corners should be relieved enough, maybe 1/16” or more to allow for deeper cuts for flattening large boards and panels prior to final smoothing.

I am pretty open minded at this point. I should add that I plan to sharpen my planes using Peter Sellers method with a rounded bevel and no secondary bevel instead of a hollow grind, as I have already had great success with it on my other planes. I realize this may be heresy to many of you, but my mind is made up on this point. I am more concerned here with the camber and corner relief than the sharpening method itself. Thanks for reading this.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

5 replies so far

View Roger's profile


19714 posts in 2225 days

#1 posted 06-08-2013 12:30 PM

Sounds like you’re gettin ready to do some serious hand work. I don’t know much of anything about planes, so I’ll be learnin right along the way.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Brit's profile


6574 posts in 2264 days

#2 posted 06-08-2013 12:42 PM

Mike – Don W is your man. What he doesn’t know about hand planes ain’t worth knowing. I probably know less than you, so I’m not going to offer an opinion. I will be watching with interest though to see what others say.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2755 days

#3 posted 06-08-2013 02:47 PM

Andy Yes, I have seen quite a few posts from Don on LJ and other forums and it is quite obvious that he knows what he is talking about.

Roger Maybe I will post my progress with my new planes on a blog so other less experienced folks like myself get some idea of how it would be for them. I can tell you now that I have unpacked the #4 smoother and cleaned it up a little. I have taken it apart just to inspect the machining, but I haven’t checked for flatness on the sole or anything else. The blade bevel is very finely ground, but not honed. I tried it out that way just for fun, and I can tell you that these planes are fantastic compared to what I’m used to.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dave's profile


11394 posts in 2261 days

#4 posted 06-10-2013 01:59 AM

Mike I think you should stay in the middle ground. If they will be every day users for general purpose. Stay with the manufacturers recommended angles. Relieving the corners is the way to go. Choose you sharpening method that gives you a sharp edge and have fun. Tune them good. The one thing that has helped me the most is the frog tuning. Make sure that mating surfaces are smooth and flat. Pay attention to the leading edge of the chip breaker. Iyt has to be in dead flat contact with the iron.
I like your new purchase and may they serve you well.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2755 days

#5 posted 06-10-2013 08:41 AM

Thanks Dave. Judging from the #4, I doubt that any tuning will be necessary. The frog is finely ground to a bright finish and the chip breaker is perfect too where it mates with the blade, and I haven’t even lapped the back of the blade yet. I also haven’t checked cheeks for 90 degrees or the sole for flatness. I will be doing that as soon as it starts to rain (my only escape from garden work and house painting). We usually quit our days work outside at around 7pm, and I’m too tired to work in the shop afterward.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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