View Full Version : Hand plane help?

09-02-2014, 01:02 PM
Hi all,

I've managed to get the stuck chip breaker off my plane iron and I've sharpened the iron to the best of my ability, but I'm having trouble getting shavings. Instead of shaving off nice shavings, I'm just gouging my wood. Any way I can fix this?


09-02-2014, 01:29 PM
Watch every video by Chris Schwarz. There might be a few things you can get from him that can help.

09-02-2014, 02:37 PM
Schwarz's clips look pretty good. I'd also recommend finding someone who knows how to use a plane show you what's up. It really is something you learn by feeling. At least you can feel that something is wrong so you're half way there.
I don't know where you're located, but Woodcraft or Rockler shops in the USA often run demo's or classes so you could ask there. Check around for a shop that sells hand tools and ask if they can give you a few pointers

09-02-2014, 06:07 PM
My guess is you need to move the frog forward to close the mouth.

On youtube, Paul Sellers is even better than Schwartz when it comes to planes, IMO.

09-02-2014, 08:57 PM
I use a Stanley 220 block plane (7" x 2") all the time: I don't have power tools like a thickness sander. My block plane and No 80 scraper are my most important/most used tools. The best advice was given above-get someone to look at what you have and show you how to sharpen and use the tool. For what its worth I offer the following:

If the blade is not sharp it will be difficult to use and will not give a clean cut. Once its sharp, its essential that you sight down the sole of the plane and ensure the blade protrudes equally across the width-if not it needs adjusting as otherwise it will dig in on one side. Next you should back off the blade so its not visible and then slowly adjust trying it as you go until you are able to produce a wisp of a shaving. If its not sharp you will not produce this wisp and it will only start to bite/gouge when the blade protrudes further. I'm guessing this is your situation, the blade is blunt and its set too deep. With a sharp blade, once you're producing this wisp of a shaving you are able to adjust further to remove material at the desired thickness/rate appropriate.

When using a block plane on thin wood you should always plane away from the point where the wood is anchored. If you plane towards a bench stop as is normal, should the plane snag this can result in the wood buckling upwards and snapping. I am sure many a beginner has snapped his first set of sides in this way!

Wood can be fickle. Not all wood can be planed in both directions. Some wood will tear badly if you plane in one direction and be fine if you plane the opposite way: this will be most noticeable if you are using a plane which is blunt/set too deep. Is this your problem?

Michael N.
09-03-2014, 01:35 AM
Here's an idea I came up with to avoid clamping and having to continually flip Sides/Backs when hand planing:

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g193/mignal/52a388d6-cfb1-4502-a48d-48b053518e0d_zps5d6be5ef.jpg (http://s56.photobucket.com/user/mignal/media/52a388d6-cfb1-4502-a48d-48b053518e0d_zps5d6be5ef.jpg.html)

The 'jig' is clamped in the vice. The direction of the plane is across the grain (45 degrees is OK) but never along the grain. Work from one end to the centre of a side, then work from the opposite end back to the centre. You can work highly figured wood without fear of tearout and it avoids buckling/snapping the wood. The 'stops' are at the thickness of the Sides - around 1.8 mm's. I used 18 mm Birch ply for the baseboard but anything of similar thickness will do. The one shown in the photo is for Sides but I also have a much wider one for Backs/Soundboards. It's a time saver in that you aren't having to use clamps. Use a highly cambered blade to remove bulk (kind of like a gentle scrub). Finish off with a smoothing plane. Blades must be seriously sharp otherwise you can easily end up with break out.

09-03-2014, 09:36 AM
Ooh, I like that. And very good point about going at 45 degrees. It can seem a bit counter intuitive but it sure works.

09-03-2014, 11:30 AM
Quote - It really is something you learn by feeling. At least you can feel that something is wrong so you're half way there.

Being a carpenter/joiner by trade for 30 years I do agree with this, it does come in time. The plane does becomes an extension of your arm/hand. You get the feel for it, if anything is wrong it becomes instinct what it is.
Have a look at the guys that the other posters recommend, but also check Robbie O'Brian out, he's a well respected Luthier and has great advice

This clip in particular is him talking about the set up of a plane


Michael N.
09-03-2014, 11:13 PM
Mostly it's about getting the blade truly sharp. The sole of a Plane doesn't need to be flat but it does need the dips to be in the right areas. The worst aspect seems to be a hollow just in front of the mouth, that's the one that really will affect the function of the plane. Even if the sole touches in just three places it will still function perfectly but those points of contact need to be the very toe, just in front of the blade and the very heel. That's the Japanese method to Plane function. It works perfectly well for metal bodied Bailey type planes too. The chipbreaker is also important to the function of the Plane. It needs to sit perfectly flat on the blade without gaps that can trap any shavings. It's position in relation to the very tip of the blade is important if you are trying to minimise tearout. Get it close, very close - within 0.2 mm's of the edge. That's for a smoothing or finishing type plane.

09-21-2014, 02:19 PM
Ok, I haven't updated in a while, but just tonight I managed to get some pretty good shavings off my spruce top. Happily, I moved on to plane my claro walnut back when the plane refused to move. Obviously, claro walnut is a harder wood than spruce, but I didn't think it'd be that much harder to plane. Any tips on planing harder wood?


09-21-2014, 10:39 PM
Don't give up! A plane that gives you just pretty good shavings in spruce may not be sharp enough or have the right setup to work in walnut. It needs to be sharp, and I mean razor sharp. If you have a spare blade you could give it a back bevel (back referring to the edge, so it should face upwards when mounted in the plane) to simulate a higher angle plane. Move the frog forward so you have a tight mouth and take your time to adjust the blade so it only just protrudes beneath the sole of the plane. Plane across the grain or at 45 degrees, look at Michael's jig in the post above.

You also want to take the corners of the edge off a wee bit so you avoid gouging the surface you're planing.

Pete Howlett
09-22-2014, 06:55 AM
Review YouTube videos by Rob Cosman or anyone posting on plane tuning. Without images it's almost impossible to diagnose your problem. BTW Sven I have never had to put a back bevel on a plane iron. It sounds to me like our man needs to spend some time on YouTube watching the experts....

09-22-2014, 07:53 AM
Review YouTube videos by Rob Cosman or anyone posting on plane tuning. Without images it's almost impossible to diagnose your problem. BTW Sven I have never had to put a back bevel on a plane iron. It sounds to me like our man needs to spend some time on YouTube watching the experts....
:agree: That is what I was trying to get at by posting a youtube link. Chris, Paul, Rob or whoever, get on the YouTube and take notes its a great classroom.

09-22-2014, 10:14 AM
Well this is what I meant, from Rob Cosman:


Michael N.
09-23-2014, 06:01 AM
Forget the back bevel. It's OK if you have a spare blade and/or pitting on an old blade.
Any tearout can be controlled by setting the chipbreaker extremely close to the blades edge. . should you need to control tear out.
No. 1 issue with users who are new to Planes is sharpness, or lack of. It's also No. 2, 3, 4, 5 . . . all the way up to whatever number you care to mention.
Only after making sure that the blade is truly sharp and that the chipbreaker seats/fits the blade properly should one bother looking at anything else.
Fast forward to 21:00 for what sharp is: