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HAND PLANE THROAT OPENING

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Forum topic by stefang posted 219 days ago 1218 views 3 times favorited 44 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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stefang

12541 posts in 1931 days


219 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: hand plane question

Most of my modest knowledge about hand planes comes from the net. The one thing I really don’t get is the correct mouth opening. The experts say that the mouth opening should be set to about the desired thickness of the shaving. I don’t dispute this, but it just doesn’t work for me.

For example, I’ve been smoothing some maple today, starting with a small mouth opening of about 1/32”, a really sharp iron with a very slight camber also about 1/32”. Didn’t get much bite with the plane set with the small opening, so I enlarged the throat opening to a little under 1/8” and got the shavings I wanted. My planes are all high quality and well tuned. I also have an inexpensive Stanley/Bailey which is about 3 years old, but which is also well tuned and performs beautifully (miraculously). My experience with the mouth openings has been the same for all of my planes.

It probably doesn’t really matter as long as the planing results are good, but it it’s irritating that my own experience doesn’t coincide with standard practice. Any idea why that might be?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.


44 replies so far

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pintodeluxe

3264 posts in 1410 days


#1 posted 219 days ago

My experience has been the same as yours. Fairly narrow throat opening, but not equal to the shaving. I still don’t trust a hand plane on quartersawn oak. The first three swipes I see smooth, delicate shavings and the fourth pass I get tearout. For this reason I trust sanders and card scrapers on figured wood.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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dbray45

2482 posts in 1373 days


#2 posted 219 days ago

Hard maple can be interesting on any day. All my planes have an opening of less than 1/32” except for the scrub and that one is 1/4”. I use a scraper plane or #12 for hard maple, curly maple I take to someone that has a planer or jointer with a spiral or helical blade set – or drum sander.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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stefang

12541 posts in 1931 days


#3 posted 219 days ago

Thanks Willie, I feel better already! I bought a #80 scraper plane from Kunz which I often take a few strokes with after smoothing. It really leaves a beautiful surface. I rarely get any quarter cut or pure straight grained wood here.

My only experience with planing oak has been white oak and I machine jointed and planed quite a bit of it a couple of years ago with great results. I thought it would quickly dull my plane blades, but didn’t. I was surprised at the nice shiny surface I got.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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Dallas

2854 posts in 1084 days


#4 posted 219 days ago

My understanding and experience (albeit not much), leads me to believe you have the iron extended too far.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but setting the iron seems to be an almost esoteric art.
I have 8 planes, nothing fancy, just the standard Stanley/Bailey’s, 409 Sargent, 414 Sargent, #7 Stanley, 60 1/2 Stanley, and a small record block plane or two.
Each one I need to work at setting the blade depth correctly.
My Stanley #5 takes a whole different setup than my Sargent 414. My Stanley #4 is completely different from my Sargent 409.
I have a wood 24” shipwrights plane that I have still never figured out how to set up. Certified built in 1754, a nice lady at TX. A&M I know did some tests on it and is 95% sure the seller was honest.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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stefang

12541 posts in 1931 days


#5 posted 219 days ago

David To be honest I doubt this is hard maple, compared to rock maple for example, but it is pretty hard. All I could find out from my supplier is that it is European maple and that’s it.

DallasI have the iron out about 1/32” from the chip breaker. I was thinking about that myself, but it doesn’t seem excessive to me. However I’ll take your advice and try an even shorter extension just to see if it helps. Everything is working fine for me as is, but I don’t have any basis for comparison, so I guess just have to experiment a little.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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shipwright

4835 posts in 1394 days


#6 posted 219 days ago

Is that maple for the chevalet Mike?

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

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stefang

12541 posts in 1931 days


#7 posted 219 days ago

Yes Paul. I had a little spare time today so I wanted to see how well it would hand plane. I had already machine jointed and planed it so I just wanted to correct a very slight belly in one of the boards. I could probably glue it up with the belly which might even be an advantage as it would keep the ends very tight. I am just trying to get some more experience with my new planes.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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Brit

5107 posts in 1439 days


#8 posted 219 days ago

Mike – Read and inwardly digest this article. It helped me.

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

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a1Jim

111999 posts in 2174 days


#9 posted 219 days ago

Hi Mike
I’m sure just about everyone knows more about planes than I do ,I just adjust them until they do what I want.
I did find this on line from Roy Underhill who’s planes always seem to glide through wood like a hot knife in butter on TV. Some of it is pretty basic but further down the post he gets into mouth openings among other details.

http://books.google.com/books?id=8Y2uAAH3YqoC&pg=PA79&lpg=PA79&dq=roy+underhill+plane+mouth+opening&source=bl&ots=VHrysHWYjX&sig=-KWf1mLkBrB750fJNZUQw7dQFbc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ekuvUoajE4b5oASHuoCoCw&ved=0CHgQ6AEwDA#v=onepage&q=roy%20underhill%20plane%20mouth%20opening&f=false

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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stefang

12541 posts in 1931 days


#10 posted 219 days ago

Andy I read it and here is an excerpt ”You won’t need the mouth to be set tight if the cap iron is working properly” That seems to be my experience here. Although my cap iron is not set ‘super close’ it is pretty close.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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stefang

12541 posts in 1931 days


#11 posted 219 days ago

Jim Thanks. I had a look at it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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Smitty_Cabinetshop

9574 posts in 1215 days


#12 posted 219 days ago

“It probably doesn’t really matter as long as the planing results are good…”

Mike, I think that nails it.

Mouth setting (either adjustable or tightened by moving the frog forward) is done to reduce tearout, as is setting the chipbreaker closer to the cutting edge of the iron. Without tearout, no need to tighten the mouth in my world.

I’d not heard “the mouth opening should be set to about the desired thickness of the shaving” before. I mean, it makes some amount of sense because jack planes are set more open than smoothers (for example) and the finest smoothers are even tighter. But if there were a 1:1 intended, it’s news to me.

Very interesting post, thanks for putting it out there. This is something I’ll pay closer attention to now.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

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Dave

11141 posts in 1436 days


#13 posted 219 days ago

Mike I have a small coffin with a bit of wear on the sole. When I get the iron at a razors edge and set the chip breaker to where I just see a glint of light shining off of the iron it will take wonderful shaving off of figured maple and other hardwoods with no tear-out. The shavings are under a thou.
That is a wood bodied plane. I am still learning metal bodies. I don’t have enough experience to give a good opinion.
To me proper set up and tuning is the key.
Keep in mind everything I own is 75 to 200 years old.
A mouth that is to tight just hinders the egress of the shaving leaving the plane.
IMHO

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

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kiefer

2941 posts in 1263 days


#14 posted 218 days ago

Hand planes , a art and sciences .
Enjoy learning your planes and the good results you get .

-- Kiefer 松

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JohnChung

220 posts in 671 days


#15 posted 218 days ago

The mouth is suppose to minimize tearout if the plane was push down hard on the surface. If the grain is too bad then it does not matter if the mouth is super close.

If the tearout is occurring I will adjust the blade height first then the chipbreaker. The mouth would be the last. I generally have the mouth midway unless it is heavy stock removal which I need the mouth all the way open.

In all, I still am learning about the mouth opening. It does help if I push down the plane hard with small opening on bad grain but not much. On against grain it does help well to close the mouth gap.

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