Troubleshooting thin and stringy hand plane shavings

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by bertwagner posted 07-04-2014 04:07 PM 1929 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View bertwagner's profile


2 posts in 1391 days

07-04-2014 04:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane diagnosis shavings troubleshooting

Hi all,
I just recently built my first hand plane and am very pleased with how it came out:

However, a good looking plane is useless if it doesn’t produce nice shavings. This is the kind of stuff I’m getting:

These shavings are coming from pine, but I experienced the same type of shavings from oak as well. When I make a pass with the plane, the shavings come off the board unevenly in little stringy parts (the boards I’m using are flat, so it shouldn’t be due to an uneven surface).

Things I’ve tried troubleshooting so far include:

1) Making sure the sole of the plane is dead flat in all directions
2) Sharpening the blade many times
3) Blade adjustments; depth, centering, etc…

I do know my mouth opening is larger than I intended to make – would a large opening cause these types of shavings? Or am I overlooking something else? I’m looking to get wide (as wide as the 2” blade) and thin shavings. Any advice on what to try next would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

21 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


6910 posts in 2566 days

#1 posted 07-04-2014 04:45 PM

A pic of the mouth opening would help. But my first guess will always be the sharpness of the blade. Took me a while to know sharp, but once you do, you will realize what sharp is and isn’t.

The plane sure looks nice, well done.

View Loren's profile


10274 posts in 3615 days

#2 posted 07-04-2014 04:53 PM

You may be fooling yourself about the sharpness. You
may need a bit more blade protrusion.

A blade can feel sharp and cut hair on your arm but
it’s easy, especially freehand, to not actually get your
final polish to the edge of the bevel.

Positioning a friction-fit iron at ideal depth and even
all the way across the mouth of a wood plane can
be tricky.

You did flatten the sole with the iron and wedge
installed, right?

View cutmantom's profile


402 posts in 3002 days

#3 posted 07-04-2014 05:13 PM

blade sharpness ,possibly the blade is in bevel up?

View TiggerWood's profile


271 posts in 1574 days

#4 posted 07-04-2014 05:16 PM

I need more pics. How precisely flat is the iron? How truly flat is the mortice? How well does the wedge mesh with the iron? I would believe your problem would most likely be with one of these three things.

View waho6o9's profile


8165 posts in 2544 days

#5 posted 07-04-2014 05:16 PM

Strop the blade.

Nice plane BTW.

View Loren's profile


10274 posts in 3615 days

#6 posted 07-04-2014 05:19 PM

Oh, yeah. Off chance if the chipbreaker is set almost right on the
edge of the iron a plane will tend to scrape. I would set the
chipbreaker back to about 1/16” while you’re figuring this out.

View TiggerWood's profile


271 posts in 1574 days

#7 posted 07-04-2014 05:25 PM

Excellent point by Loren!

View Tim's profile


3784 posts in 1929 days

#8 posted 07-04-2014 05:26 PM

What’s the plane’s bed angle? Are you getting good contact with the wedge against the front of the plane iron? Any chattering? I’m guessing it’s a sharpness issue too, but I’ve used plane irons well past where I should have sharpened them and not had that type of shavings so the bevel up point is a good one too.

View Tim's profile


3784 posts in 1929 days

#9 posted 07-04-2014 05:27 PM

I don’t think I see a chip breaker there. It just looks like a thick blade and a wedge.

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2151 days

#10 posted 07-04-2014 05:38 PM

Just to add to the already good advise here, a large mouth opening will tend to allow much larger chips through, so we can cross that off.

Those are the kind of shavings you get from a scraper plane, which means the effective cutting angle is very high. It looks like your Hock blade is facing the right direction in the picture, if you have a bevel-down blade. Did you by any chance add a back bevel to the blade?

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View bigblockyeti's profile


5096 posts in 1688 days

#11 posted 07-04-2014 07:06 PM

If my block plane is set up perfect, when it starts making shavings like that I know it needs to be sharpened.

View Pezking7p's profile


3217 posts in 1619 days

#12 posted 07-04-2014 09:16 PM

Looks dull.

-- -Dan

View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 2327 days

#13 posted 07-04-2014 09:40 PM

I’m with Shampeon on this one—

My very first thought upon seeing the second photo is that those look like the kind of shavings you get from a scraper or high-angle smoother.

Great for difficult grain, but not what you’re after.

View JohnChung's profile


407 posts in 2042 days

#14 posted 07-05-2014 05:53 AM

What is the effective angle of the iron?

View bertwagner's profile


2 posts in 1391 days

#15 posted 07-07-2014 12:01 PM

Thanks everyone for your input! A couple of additional answers:

-Yes the sole was flattened with iron and wedge installed
-Chip breaker has been tried in multiple positions, but in the pictures above it was about 1/16” from the blade
-Bed angle is 60 degrees. With the wedge in between the blade and pin, there is no movement of the blade and no chatter
-Plane blade bevel is 30 degrees

It will be a few weeks before I can get back to troubleshoot the plane again, but I will check on everyone’s suggestions. It seems like the consensus is blade sharpness though. I’ve been using the Veritas Mk. II Honing guide to sharpen to 30 degrees. I noticed that the blade was a little off from 30 degrees (maybe 30.5 or 31?) so I’ve been slowly grinding it down on sand paper + flat surface in order to get the blade bevel to the correct angle for the honing guide. I’m guessing I still haven’t gone far enough and and will continue sharpening!

Thanks everyone for your input! Glad you like the plane.

showing 1 through 15 of 21 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics