Reply by OSU55

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Posted on Questions on how to use a plane

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2709 posts in 2955 days

#1 posted 06-14-2016 04:27 PM

Your reasons for moving to hand planes are the same reasons I had several years ago. Hand planes require some skill development and experience for sharpening, tuning, and using – as you are now experiencing. Here is a link for my input on sharpening and tuning.

As for using, get a board, not a project, and practice. As you have discovered, especially when smoothing, it only takes small adjustments or nudges. Practice builds the knowledge of how much of an adjustment is needed depending on the plane and type of cut. Here is a link to an article by Chris Schwarz “Fine, Medium, and Coarse” regarding using hand planes that you might find useful. You may find using a small brass hammer to tap the edge of the blade for skew adjustments easier than using the Norris adjuster on that plane.

As for sanding after smoothing, it depends. For an “in the wood” finish like Danish oil or thinned poly, no, unless you are after perfection (light sanding can show missed tool marks). The oil/varnish will still wick into the wood eventually – the smoother it is the longer it can take, but I commonly polish wood on the lathe and apply thinned poly and it does soak it up. For a film finish some surface roughness is desirable. You don’t want it to bead up like water on glass, and it needs to have some “bite” on the wood. I usually hand sand with 320 with the grain to get a consistent surface finish and to show any tool marks that may need attention. Since this is a work table, why sand it? It will get dinged anyway.

The Sweetheart #4 is a perfectly fine plane. It needs some tuning, but will do a fine job except for unruly, burly, reversing grain, which any bevel down plane can struggle with. Tuned up, it will do about as good a lob as any bevel down plane.

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