How to get out of block plane end grain hell?

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Forum topic by ColonelTravis posted 01-21-2014 05:44 AM 1802 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ColonelTravis's profile


1804 posts in 1921 days

01-21-2014 05:44 AM

Topic tags/keywords: block plane end grain hell

I’ve got some David Charlesworth videos and the guy is an impeccable hand tool resource, when I watch him turn end grain into a sheet of glass (while getting a long shaving) I think – man, I could do that.

HAHAHAHA! No you can’t, loser!

Was practicing on a pine board today with a Stanley 9 1/2 and it wasn’t a complete failure but it was a maximum partial one. The blade is remarkably sharp so that in and of itself is not the problem. I made some mouth adjustments and that helped somewhat, but perhaps it’s an angle issue?

9 1/2 bed angle is 20 degrees, correct?
My primary bevel is 25, with a microbevel I’m 26-27. Thought 47 would be fine for softer woods.
Charlesworth is a adamant about having a curve in most blades, I do not have one. Maybe that’s part of the problem.

I know this takes practice but man, I’d love to know how to get a shaving off end grain.

12 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2344 days

#1 posted 01-21-2014 05:53 AM

Does remarkably sharp mean you can shave with the blade? If not, then you may want to rethink what sharp means. End grain is tough to cut well and anything short of razor sharp is usually insufficient.

Besides that, the most common mistake I’ve seen is exposing too much blade and letting it cut too deep. This just causes chatter as the blade digs in, gets stopped then slips out of the cut.

Another potential issue is lack of adequate support behind the cutting edge. If the blade can flex it will chatter instead of cutting.

I think your cutting angle is too high too. It should ideally be less than 45 degrees for softwood. 45 is the standard angle and anything above is moving more towards a scraping action.

-- See my work at and

View Aj2's profile


1441 posts in 1825 days

#2 posted 01-21-2014 05:58 AM

Doesn’t he also backbevel his iron 10degrees, maybe just his chut plane?Don’t think about it too much those shavings only last a short time.

-- Aj

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 3831 days

#3 posted 01-21-2014 06:02 AM

You can bet Charlesworth doesn’t use pine to shoot his videos. Pine is a pain to hand plane, you need it to be as sharp as possible, and definitely at a lower angle than you would use for a hardwood. I’d keep at the pine, then try on an easily worked wood like cherry.

If I recall correctly, he often uses European sycamore (acer pseudoplatanus), not the same as the American sycamore. That wood is more or less the hand planing equivalent of the fish that jump into your boat. Not to say that he is not enormously skilled, but you probably don’t need to give him a head start.

View ColonelTravis's profile


1804 posts in 1921 days

#4 posted 01-21-2014 06:04 AM

It is indeed razor sharp, finish-polished on 8K stone. Thanks for the angle info. Charlesworth used a bench plane and a block to get shavings. The bench was at the standard 45 and the block was about 42, so mine is definitely higher.

Arminius – that’s funny because you’re correct about the wood. Not sure what board he used in his demo but it was not pine.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3675 days

#5 posted 01-21-2014 06:39 AM

It is possible and even easy to round over a bevel
too much. It may shave hair but may not be
optimally sharp. For many situations it doesn’t
matter but for a few it does.

Considering you’re looking at 42 vs 45 for a standard
plane, I suggest pursuing that fine cut with a #4.

Skewing can help. Pine is so density variable it
can be vexing. Try something firm and close
grained like walnut or birch or alder.

View JohnChung's profile


410 posts in 2102 days

#6 posted 01-21-2014 09:14 AM

@ColonelTravis – pls show us your shavings picture of your end grain. Could help us solve the mystery.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1248 posts in 1741 days

#7 posted 01-21-2014 09:44 AM

I allso thought that i sucked at planing – untill i tryed hardwood.

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View JohnChung's profile


410 posts in 2102 days

#8 posted 01-21-2014 10:40 AM

I have Veritas and a Stanley plane. For hardwood, you really need a sharp blade. If there is a slight burr on the edge it will not cut hardwood. On the Veritas the plane’s sole was flat and the blades are sharp thanks to my jig. The Stanley plane could cut pine beautifully but hardwood not so.

Finally figured it out that the sole was not flat and the blade on the plane had a burr. If the plane is not cutting well start diagnosing the issues.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2595 days

#9 posted 01-21-2014 12:44 PM

I think it was Swartz that said sharp fixes everything.

A 9 1/2 may not be the best, a low angle block would work better, but when ever I tune a block, that’s the test.

Even a 220 that is tuned and sharpened will cut end grain.

everything I sharpen is 25 degrees. It will work and work well if its tuned and sharp.

as been said, post some pic’s.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8517 posts in 2010 days

#10 posted 01-21-2014 02:41 PM

IMO, low angle is the key to end grain. I use a, 60 1/2 with a tight mouth, and light cuts.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3675 days

#11 posted 01-21-2014 02:49 PM

Stanley block planes don’t have a lot of support under the
blade. If the cap iron is set too tight, the iron can lift
a bit at the mouth and it won’t cut right. It’s a long time
since I fine tuned one but as I recall you’ll want to get
some machinest blue dye to help tell you where to file
the sole and then you lap it. The bottom of the cap
iron should be assessed and tuned for an even sandwiching
of the iron between the mouth and the cap iron.

Record planes have more support and the 20 degree planes
have more as a I recall. Then there’s the new generation
of fine block planes which I haven’t used. Allegedly
they work very well out of the box without fettling.

I don’t use block plane much. I’ll use a smoother one-handed
often enough, though it does get heavy. The mass
of the smoother helps the plane stay in the cut when
working end grain.

View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 2387 days

#12 posted 01-21-2014 03:27 PM

just wanted to say that I found your response to be both insightful and well-written.

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