Questions about hand plane usage

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Forum topic by Luke posted 05-20-2009 06:37 AM 2706 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3316 days

05-20-2009 06:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plane using plane block plane plane tuning hand plane plane depth adjustment

Okay, I’ve searched the internet for this info and I just can’t seem to find it and I think it should be out there so I’ll ask my questions and hope for the best…

I just bought a LN low angle adjustable block plane and I am in love. I’ve had a buck bros POS and a USA made POS block plane and they both basically need to be thrown in the garbage. I don’t care how much tuning you do to those they will only be just good enough for a mediocre woodworker who doesn’t know good quality when he sees it anyways. The blades are much to thin and chatter due to crappy blade/ poor workmanship/ crappy materials is so bad even after sole flattening and tuning that they WILL destroy your good workpieces the moment you use them.

Anyways I digress because I had so many issues trying to get them to work and finally figured out that they were S#!t and they needed to go away. It’s too bad that you can’t start out at the top with tools because you’d learn so much quicker to know the difference. Apprentice in a quality woodworkers shop and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Life is not the same after that.

My main question. When actually using the tool I have to make depth adjustments…. Do you loosen the large nut holding the iron down and then adjust the depth or do you just adjust the depth with the hold down tight? It seems like it doesn’t want to move unless you loosen the large dial first. I hate to sit there and scrape the top of the blade with the hold down wheel while cranking to move the blade. It just doesn’t seem natural. Unless that’s just how it is done. Adjustments are so difficult when you have to loosen the wheel and then adjust while trying not to rack or move the blade. Unless of course that is the way that it is done.

Or do I just loosen the wheel a LITTLE and then move the blade? It seems difficult and not good still, but again ,if that’s how it is done then w/e, thats fine.

Second and final issue. It is very important to get the blade exactly parallel to the sole of the plane. If you don’t do this every time you set the blade. after a couple of slices you will start to create a bevel to one side or the other and that can ruin your piece as it did on my last project. When you go to FIX the bevel problem you may end up taking off too much material and having to cut another piece. Luckily for me the LN takes off thous at a time and can take 20 passes to remove a 32nd. Sweet! You need to take out a good square and place it against the side of the plane with the blade(of the square) set over the mouth and along the blade and line up the plane blade with the square blade. Don’t get me started on how to do this if the edge of the plane is not at 90 degrees. Hence the lovely perfection of a LN plane.

Funny thing is I looked every where to find out about how to actually use a hand plane. I looked on google… Looked at many many podcasts on the subject… and youtube too… main things I found. How to lap the sole. sharpen the blade, duh, file things down. set it correctly but nothing about what I mention here. Maybe I’m crazy but that is a huge problem for me personally. If I could figure this out I be a happier person. Even if someone just tells me that I just have to do it what ever way. Great, at least I don’t feel like an idiot.

Please help, I need someone who really knows how to use planes to explain the processes of these two issues.

Thanks in advance guys… and girls…..

-- LAS,

11 replies so far

View PatentNonsense's profile


28 posts in 3388 days

#1 posted 05-20-2009 01:50 PM

I love planes, but I’m pretty ignorant myself. I found some good stuff in books long ago – I’ll try to dig it out.

Have you tried asking the Lie-Nelson people where to learn more? Maybe they could point you to some good resources.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3670 days

#2 posted 05-20-2009 03:07 PM

First off, let me start by saying that Buck-Bros is a very low quality plane – but if you tune it up properly – you’d be amazed at what this plane can do – I was. there is more to tuning a handplane than lapping the sole and sharpening the blade… I highly recommend Garrett Hacks' - The Handplane Book

now as far as usability –
yes- everytime you unlock the knob and loosen the blade, you’d have to realign it’s direction as it WILL shift sideways…. after a while it’ll become a second nature- it’s just part of the unlocking-(align)-locking sequence.

I personally unlock the blade to change depth of cut – but since you’re not changing it that often, I don’t find it too big of a deal. like yourself find that when its locked, the movement is hard.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View lilliputianfrivolity's profile


6 posts in 3361 days

#3 posted 05-20-2009 03:37 PM

for depth and left right adjustments – use a hammer. you’ve probably noticed the “plane adjustment hammers” available at any fine woodworking store or website. (they are brass so as to not damage the iron). but this is only for micro adjustments of course.

and as far as how to use a plane – use constant down pressure, move it forward at a constant speed, and skew it for better results. beyond that its really up to you. if you have heard of the north bennet street school, one interesting project they make their students do is to make a board foot (1’x1’x1”) only using hand tools. try it, or just practice on scrap, you would be surprised as to how quickly you get a real feel for it in a couple days.

good luck friend

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3695 days

#4 posted 05-20-2009 05:26 PM

If depth changes are too hard you have the cap on too tight

For left right I use a light hammer and a piece of brass as a punch if the plane doesn’t have lateral adjustment built in.

Plane adjustment hammers are for wooden bodied planes that use a tapered iron and wedge arrangement

View Elaine's profile


113 posts in 3645 days

#5 posted 05-20-2009 05:50 PM

Go here : scroll down and there you will find the directions. Just loosen the spin wheel a little. Use a little wax or tallow for ease in cutting. I personally like the tallow better, but most are offended by the smell. But I was lucky enough to go to Penland last year and I became a convert. Someone once suggested to me to ease the corners on the blade less than a hair and it did wonders. Chatter could be caused by incorrect pressure. I used to have a problem with planing until I lowered my work surface. God built the ground too close to my backside. Run the plane with the grain -you have to learn to read it. I have a lot of planes, some may call it an addiction – each one has a learning curve.

Good luck

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3415 days

#6 posted 05-20-2009 05:51 PM

Those planes are not a single second worth of tuning.

Stanley toolworks sold to us the idea of making adjustments “on the fly” without releasing the Lever Cap. WRONG! that’s why is common to find those bronze Deep Adj. Wheels with to much “play”.
You must release the large wheel ENOUGH before making any adjustment.

So what I do is this:

Place the plane infront of your face upside down, that way you can see how much blade you feed and hold the cap with your index finger.

A very important thing on Handplanes, that many people just ignore, is to camber the blade. straight edges will leave marks on the work piece…..a nice cambered edge not only will leave nice and clean “strokes” but also will help to perform the plane much better….take a look on this interesting study:

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3316 days

#7 posted 05-21-2009 12:08 AM

Thanks Elaine! I’m an idiot! it was right there the whole time. I even got that in a print form with the plane and even read it and didn’t think twice! Wow , huh. I had been over tightening the blade. Only takes a quarter turn to loosen. As far as making fine adjustments i think I’ll steer away from tapping the side with a metal hammer even if it is brass. Maybe a wood hammer or something similar? Hmm…. I did take a hair extra off the sides of the blade and that helps to not get stuck and not have the noticeable lines either.
Thanks for the tips!

-- LAS,

View Elaine's profile


113 posts in 3645 days

#8 posted 05-21-2009 12:14 AM

You’re most welcome Skywalker01! I have never used a plane hammer on a metal plane -only my wooden planes. The little knob on the very back should help with fine adjustments as moai has pictured. Keep working on the other two planes, you may find that they come in useful for more than trash

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3695 days

#9 posted 05-21-2009 01:45 AM

Brass will not mar steel and I’m pretty sure it won’t touch ductile iron either, that’s why they make brass hammers for seating things in machine shop work.

I find it a lot easier to have the blade 1/2 tight and tink it with a tiny hammer and a little piece of brass than fiddle with the plane and eyeball it. I can get it straight in 2 tink’s usually.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18283 posts in 3698 days

#10 posted 05-21-2009 07:32 AM

One of my first memories of my grandpa was him asking my dad to hand him his plane when they were working on something. I remember those white curls flowing out like clouds floating by. :-)) His plane must have been tuned pretty well, huh?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Elaine's profile


113 posts in 3645 days

#11 posted 05-21-2009 01:40 PM

marcb -2 tinks, that’s wonderful! Thanks for the suggestion -I believe I’ll try it next time

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