Wood Plane

Jerryc41

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Is a plane the better/best way to get a straight edge on thin pieces to be joined as back and soundboard of a uke? I have virtually no experience with planes - saws and sandpaper have been my "smoothers of choice."

Is there a particular type of plane that would be better than another? I'm not a professional, so I don't need a $500 plane. ;) I probably have a plane somewhere in the garage, but buying one would be faster than finding it.
 

Red Cliff

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A plane should give a better finish and joint than sandpaper. Note I say should. You have to know what you are doing with a plane, including sharpening it properly and setting it up. If you don't, then in the short term you will likely get a better joint with sandpaper glued to a very flat surface e.g. side of a level, or a flat board.

If you do want to go down the plane route then the longer the better, so a jointer plane would be ideal.
 

morfrost

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Jerry 41;

A shooting board and a plane are the items used by most builders to prepare soundboard and back pieces for joining. Try googling " shooting board" and " using a hand plane". There's a ton of woodworking sites out there to help you.
 

jcalkin

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Being neither a furniture guy nor an old school woodworker I have no use for planes. It's my loss, they are such pretty things. Since getting a knack for it (it took years) I've jointed all my uke plates on the belt sander. It takes less than 30 seconds per plate. I've never had one come apart.
 

sequoia

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I use an extremely simple method to get perfect edges on my plates for joining. No stinking shooting boards or fancy planes required. Here is how it is done:

Cut the edges of the plates on a table saw. (You can skip this step if they are pretty close.)
Using masking tape, tape the plates together on the outside edges with the no show wood on the outside and the show sides edges on the inside. Very important!
Take off the rough edges by sanding on a flat surface. Don't over do this or you will start to get a slight convexity to the plates. A couple passes works.
Now the important part: Stick 80 or 100 grit sandpaper onto a standard bubble level. I use an aluminum cheapy from the hardware store. Jack the sandwiched plates into a vise. Now sand the edges with the sandpapered bubble level in a length-wise motion. Sand a little bit and then "candle" the join. When light disappears you are done. When things are going good and I have a nice edge to begin with it can take as little as 10 seconds.

It took me longer to write that than it takes to do. You will get a perfect seam on the show side and and a visible seam on the no show side because the no show side was on the outside of the sandwiched plates but who cares since nobody can see it.

I realize anyone reading this is confused, but it works perfectly, it is fast and makes the seam totally disappear. Then glue plates with your choice of glue (whatever) and use the tape tent method to join the plates. These methods with the elaborate shooting boards and the 10" super heavy (and expensive) planes makes me laugh. Sometimes the simple method is the best method.
 

resoman

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Ever since Chuck Moore told us about his method of prepping the join on a router table I have been using his method. The plates get clamped in a fixture and run thru the router. The router is in a table that has a bearing on the top and a ground straightedge to guide the whole thing. Takes off as little or as much as you need. It's perfect every time unless you try to feed it too fast and then some woods, like cedar and redwood, can splinter. I'll line up a bunch of tops and do them all, join them and put them away until I need them. If you do a search you will find this discussion.
I'll try to make a video or at least make some photos.
 
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Jerryc41

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Being neither a furniture guy nor an old school woodworker I have no use for planes. It's my loss, they are such pretty things. Since getting a knack for it (it took years) I've jointed all my uke plates on the belt sander. It takes less than 30 seconds per plate. I've never had one come apart.

I tried a belt sander, but the table saw gave me the best results. I think I'm going to stay away from a plane. From past experience, I didn't have much luck with them. The prices now are often in the $200+ range.
 

mikeyb2

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I tried a belt sander, but the table saw gave me the best results. I think I'm going to stay away from a plane. From past experience, I didn't have much luck with them. The prices now are often in the $200+ range.

I bought a Quangsheng no. 6 which are quality but half the price of the big boys. I seem to remember it was about £160 so more like 160$ to you. I use this for joining plates with good success.
 

resoman

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You can get all types of planes off of ebay for pretty reasonable. When I planed my tops for joining I used an old Stanley #5, like early 1900's, I got it off of ebay for like $25.00. I put a Ron Hock blade in that one and I did a lot of tops with that one and never had to sharpen it. I imagine the planes are more expensive now but they can still be had fairly cheap.
 

DPO

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Is a plane the better/best way to get a straight edge on thin pieces to be joined as back and soundboard of a uke? I have virtually no experience with planes - saws and sandpaper have been my "smoothers of choice."

Is there a particular type of plane that would be better than another? I'm not a professional, so I don't need a $500 plane. ;) I probably have a plane somewhere in the garage, but buying one would be faster than finding it.

I jointed dozens of tops and backs on a shooting board, and a block plane. No need for $200 jointing planes. Block plane $10.00
 

Uke-alot

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You can get all types of planes off of ebay for pretty reasonable. When I planed my tops for joining I used an old Stanley #5, like early 1900's, I got it off of ebay for like $25.00. I put a Ron Hock blade in that one and I did a lot of tops with that one and never had to sharpen it. I imagine the planes are more expensive now but they can still be had fairly cheap.

I agree with this. For pieces the size of ukulele top or back, a No. 5 is a good size. It could even be done by a No. 4, if that's what's available to do the job. Stanley made literally millions of these (Plus there were others made in the US by companies like Millers Falls, Sargeant, and Union. Plus, Craftsman contracted with these various companies at different times, so Craftsman planes from that period are often good.), and there are many nice examples made from the early 1900s through the 1950s that can be found for $50 or less. Aftermarket blades and chipbreakers from Hock, Lee Valley, and others are a nice upgrade. The Bailey pattern bench planes basically don't wear out, although they can be broken in various ways. My only caution for newbies is that sometimes the initial time investment to getting one working well can be considerable, such as if the bottom is substantially out-of-flat. Others need little work at all, other than properly sharpening the blade.

Anyone who wants to get into planes, but wants them to just work out of the box, could look at Veritas/Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen. They're expensive, but made incredibly well.
 

Kekani

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Most of the guys I know here do NOT use a hand plane. In fact, I just did a workshop before Covid19 hit, and it was on sharpening, with my plane and board as an example.

There are arguments for a sanded edge - one being the roughed fibers make the joint difficult to see.

Now, a 100+ year old Stanley #6 upgraded and.modified to fit a Veritas blade, and used on a Cosman style shooting board. Couple this this HHG and Spanish style gluing jig, it's a quick and accurate process. Could probably get away with a rubbed jointed (which I tried and tested - we don't need no stinking tape. . . ) but haven't.
 

lauburu

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No need to spend big bucks on a good plane. There are lots of old guys who trained as cabinet makers etc who have long retired and are downsizing to places without workshops (or whose kids are cleaning out the garage before putting the house on the market). Good quality Stanley planes (or similar) are abundant and cheap.
Take your time, get a good one, learn to sharpen it and it will last forever. Soooo much more satisfying to use than sandpaper.
Miguel
 

Jerryc41

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I Google "shooting board." Interesting. I also looked on eBay for planes. Huge selection at low prices. First, I'll have to look through my garage because I know I used to have three - block, Jack, and a slightly larger one.
 

resoman

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They are not too hard to sharpen and there is lots online about how to do it. I think Ron Hock's website has info on sharpening. I still use mine quite a bit and I have a pretty good collection but for joining tops it's the router table for me.
 

sequoia

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There are arguments for a sanded edge - one being the roughed fibers make the joint difficult to see.

Yes! Exactly. A too smooth an edge on the plates can leave a tell-tale dark line. When rough sanded with 80 grit, it leaves microscopic fibers that intertwine when glued and the join completely disappears. The problem with this method is to not over sand. You can then get the dreaded carolus effect* and start rounding the edges which will give you convexity. If you are close, just a few passes are needed.

*See physics
 

Jerryc41

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Yes! Exactly. A too smooth an edge on the plates can leave a tell-tale dark line. When rough sanded with 80 grit, it leaves microscopic fibers that intertwine when glued and the join completely disappears. The problem with this method is to not over sand. You can then get the dreaded carolus effect* and start rounding the edges which will give you convexity. If you are close, just a few passes are needed.

*See physics

I guess I lucked out by sawing and then sanding lightly. I wound up with near-invisible seams.
 

sequoia

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I guess I lucked out by sawing and then sanding lightly. I wound up with near-invisible seams.

Just as a warning: Invisible seams can disappear and you can lose your center-line which can be a bad thing when it comes to assembly. Be sure to mark with a pencil line on the edge and on the show side of tops and backs. Oh, and don't forget to sand out the pencil line before finishing. I've done it and short of refinishing, there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO. Doh!:wallbash:
 

lauburu

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Centrelines can easily disappear with tight parallel grain and invisible glue lines. Instead of perfectly matching the plates at the ends, try gluing the plates with their ends 1mm out of line so there is a tiny ridge top and bottom. This works well until you trim the ends off but should get you through the bracing, soundhole and rosette phases of construction
Miguel
 

Jerryc41

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Just as a warning: Invisible seams can disappear and you can lose your center-line which can be a bad thing...

Yes, perfection does have its drawbacks. That's why I don't aim too high. ;)