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Smoothing Plane and Avoid Sand, Or Proceed Directly to Sand?

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Forum topic by lumbermeister posted 09-07-2014 05:56 PM 1509 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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lumbermeister

127 posts in 1447 days


09-07-2014 05:56 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bench plane sand smooth

Many sources of info on smoothing wood state that sanding should be avoided; use a good smoothing plane and proceed to finish. Me, I get extremely thin shavings from my bench planes, but, if the board is wider than the plane’s blade, there will always be tiny ridges remaining. In short, smooth with my bench planes; then a final 220 or-so grit sand.

What is your routine? Do many of you stop at the smoothing plane (no ridges)? If so, what is your technique for avoiding the ridges?

Thanks.


15 replies so far

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3025 posts in 1265 days


#1 posted 09-07-2014 06:10 PM

As a new convert to using planes, three thoughts:
1) It takes a good while to develop the technique to have that pristine surface from planing alone. I’m not there yet.
2) A bit of camber on the smoothing plane blade can help diminish the ridges.
3) there is no doubt that a planed surface looks better raw than a sanded one. I’d be interested to see if one could tell the difference in a blind test after finishing.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View dlgWoodWork's profile

dlgWoodWork

159 posts in 3222 days


#2 posted 09-07-2014 06:14 PM

There should be no ridges after using your smoothing plane. You can slightly round the edges/corners of your plane blade and that should eliminate the ridges. Getting a completely finish ready surface takes a little bit of time to learn. Keep at it and you should have very little to no sanding needed.

-- Check out my projects and videos http://dlgwoodwork.com

View Nubsnstubs's profile

Nubsnstubs

826 posts in 1198 days


#3 posted 09-07-2014 06:52 PM

I don’t want to sound like a butthead, but orbit and belt sanders were invented to make life a little easier while woodworking. I don’t understand why some people have a need to still do it like they did 200 years ago…... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

7180 posts in 2045 days


#4 posted 09-07-2014 07:02 PM

I have better luck using scrapers for the final preparation before

applying a finish.

View lumbermeister's profile

lumbermeister

127 posts in 1447 days


#5 posted 09-07-2014 07:30 PM

Thanks for the replies, folks. I had read about cambering the blade to avoid the ridges, but I also read that this is mostly true for bevel-down planes; my bench planes are bevel-up, for which it has been said that cambering does not work so well. Thoughts?

View Loren's profile

Loren

8315 posts in 3116 days


#6 posted 09-07-2014 07:31 PM

Depending on the wood grain it is sometimes feasible
to go from smooth planing with a cambered iron. A
bevel down plane is most effective in my opinion as
cambering is simpler.

It should be noted that modern finishing standards
and expectations of near-flawless surfaces are
an expectation that is just that, an expectation.
If you look at old work the surfaces are often
not pristine and you might attribute that to wear
but in truth a lot of it may be original tool markings
and inevitable tear-out.

When the stock is agreeable I finish plane, work
problem areas with card scrapers, fill if needed,
sand to 150 grit and go to finish. I don’t feel
220 is needed.

It does take well-tuned planes and good sharpening
skills to get consistently excellent results from hand
planes. Read James Krenov’s books.

Stroke sanders and wide belt sanders are faster than
hand planing in smoothing surfaces to near-finish
readiness. Other sander types are not. Used
properly with agreeable wood, hand planes are
very efficient.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days


#7 posted 09-07-2014 10:03 PM



I don t want to sound like a butthead, but orbit and belt sanders were invented to make life a little easier while woodworking. I don t understand why some people have a need to still do it like they did 200 years ago…... Jerry (in Tucson)

- Nubsnstubs

This is true. Krenov had it all wrong!

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3025 posts in 1265 days


#8 posted 09-07-2014 10:30 PM

All your planes are bevel up? Why is that?

I agree with Loren on grit. I do 180, but that’s about it. My first big project I used Watco Danish oil on, and that’s what Watco recommends. It came out smell, I’ve not gone higher except in special situations.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days


#9 posted 09-07-2014 10:45 PM

when you sharpen your smoothers, just rock from one side to the other. Count your strokes and keep adding until the ridges disappear. I would suggest starting about 10 strokes on each side. This should get rid of your ridges.

I’d rather not have a real camber. so I rock so a large part of the center I flat.

This is the big misnomer with a full width shaving. If you can get a full width shaving, you’ll likely have ridges.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View lumbermeister's profile

lumbermeister

127 posts in 1447 days


#10 posted 09-08-2014 01:00 AM

CharlesA – My planes (all low angle) are bevel up as I believed them to be more versatile; just swap out the blade for one with a bevel angle that is best for the situation at hand. That enables me to attack end grain (low angle) as well as wood with highly figured grain. I certainly do not mean to provoke a bevel-up vs. bevel-up debate (though they are sort of fun), but I am fully aware that either choice has its pros and cons. One con to bevel-up, I am learning, is the reduced effectiveness of cambering the blade.

Re. 220 grit, I have been, with increasing frequency, using BLO, and it seems to absorb just fine into the 220. When I use products such as Arm-R-Seal, I generally stop at 180.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days


#11 posted 09-08-2014 01:07 AM

I think you will find it will be hard to compare a good planed surface to one sanded to 180 grit.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View Pezking7p's profile

Pezking7p

3097 posts in 1119 days


#12 posted 09-08-2014 01:12 AM

If your planes are sharp and tuned, and your wood cooperates, plane and finish. If not, well, sand then finish.

-- -Dan

View TheWoodenOyster's profile

TheWoodenOyster

1275 posts in 1403 days


#13 posted 09-08-2014 01:46 PM

I have had the same results as you. I honestly do not feel that there is a way to use a smoothing plane and get a perfect finish. There will always be ridges no mater how fine your shaving, your camber, or how you nip the corners of the blade. I use my soother a lot, but it is never the last step before finish. I usually plane then hit it with 220 or 320.

On difficult wood, I skip the handplanes. I have found that no matter how sharp I get my blade, something is going to go wrong somewhere. I will catch some grain and have some tearout. So, on some projects, I just sand all the way from 80 grit to 220 grit. Takes a while, but it is pretty much foolproof.

I talked to a longtime pro about this and he said he never uses smoothers for finishing because of the risk of tearout. Some here will probably say that if your blade is sharp enough, tearout won’t happen. Well, that may be true for 1 out 100,000, but for the rest of us it isn’t.

If the wood cooperates, plane it then sand it with 220 or so. If it doesn’t cooperate, sand all the way.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View JayT's profile

JayT

4788 posts in 1679 days


#14 posted 09-08-2014 01:53 PM

I usually finish with a smoothing plane and then right to finish. On wood with tricky grain, I might scrape instead of plane. The only time I sand a flat surface is if it will be stained—a planed surface doesn’t absorb stain well. In those cases it’s a light sanding with 220 to break up the ends the wood fibers a bit.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

303 posts in 1930 days


#15 posted 09-13-2014 04:21 PM

Razor sharp slightly cambered smoother, then a cabinet scraper for the toughness areas/ surface prep, then 220 for a slight touch up before finish.

I don’t like to sand too much. Not matter how careful, there is always a rounded edge that stinks of factory furniture… Ugh.

More than anything, a highly polished keen edge on any blade that hits your work…

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