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Help my understand how hand planes work, and can edge joint a long board

by SMP
posted 12-17-2018 06:48 PM


15 replies so far

View corelz125's profile

corelz125

676 posts in 1273 days


#1 posted 12-17-2018 07:30 PM

A #5 isn`t a jointer plane. For a 6’ board you need a #7 or #8. The extra length of the plane is what gets it flat and straight.

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

8610 posts in 1435 days


#2 posted 12-17-2018 07:51 PM

When it comes to jointing with hand planes, how flat the face is depends on the length of the plane. So you would usually start with something like a #5 or shorter that’s set to take an agressive cut and work down the high spots. This is sometimes know as “scrubbing”. Most people like a shorter plane for scrubbing. Once you’ve scrubbed, you would move on to a longer plane like a #5 or #6. You will now work with the grain of the board and continue making passes until you are pulling a constant shaving down the full length of the board. In some cases, you will stop here. It depends on how flat you need the face. If you need it flatter, you progress to a #7 and/or a #8 jointer.

A hand plane works by kind of averaging out the high and low spots. The longer the sole of a plane is, the flatter a board will be when it’s taking a full length shaving.

If you’re getting a hump in the middle of the board, adjust your method. Start planing at 6-12” in from the end of the board and train your body to apply pressure as if the plane were a shovel and you’re trying to “scoop out” the middle section. Then stop 6-12” before you reach the other end. You should have pressure only on the front of the plane when you initiate the cut, equal pressure on both front and back through the middle of the cut and pressure only on the back of the plane at the end of the cut. Stop and check your progress often. Move to the ends of the board after a few passes and see if that evens out your hump.

Fact of the matter is, all the forum threads and youtube videos in the world are no substitute for practice :-) Handplanes are among the simplest of all tools in terms of design and function but have a steep learning curve where actual effective use is concerned. Keep at it though. It is a skill that is well worth having! Even for a power tool user. I have a powered jointer and planer that I use but there are very few boards that make it through my shop without being touched by a hand plane for one purpose or another at some point.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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SMP

449 posts in 202 days


#3 posted 12-17-2018 08:07 PM



If you re getting a hump in the middle of the board, adjust your method. Start planing at 6-12” in from the end of the board and train your body to apply pressure as if the plane were a shovel and you re trying to “scoop out” the middle section. Then stop 6-12” before you reach the other end. You should have pressure only on the front of the plane when you initiate the cut, equal pressure on both front and back through the middle of the cut and pressure only on the back of the plane at the end of the cut. Stop and check your progress often. Move to the ends of the board after a few passes and see if that evens out your hump.

Fact of the matter is, all the forum threads and youtube videos in the world are no substitute for practice :-) Handplanes are among the simplest of all tools in terms of design and function but have a steep learning curve where actual effective use is concerned. Keep at it though. It is a skill that is well worth having! Even for a power tool user. I have a powered jointer and planer that I use but there are very few boards that make it through my shop without being touched by a hand plane for one purpose or another at some point.

- HokieKen

OK, I’ll try that out to see with the pressure, thanks! I did notice some strange behavior around pressure by accident. I was holding the piece with one hand( I am building my bench so don’t have a way to hold it) just pushing from the back and lightly skimming high spots. Then I wedged it between my knees and used both hands and it really dug in took a good chunk of wood out, I had to back the blade off. I guess even though the sole is iron it still flexes enough to change how deep it cuts, or maybe its my adjustment method. I saw a video of Paul Sellers cutting full length shavings dragging his plane with a string. And he can joint any board with a number 4 plane. And the English Woodworker (the bench plans I am following) says he can make his 12’ bench with just a #5. So I wasn’t sure if its the way my plane is setup or just purely technique and practice. I’ll try what you wrote though, thanks!

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HokieKen

8610 posts in 1435 days


#4 posted 12-17-2018 08:18 PM

Wait, are you trying to joint these 6’ boards while holding them at the same time? If so, stop right now ;-P You’ll never get it done. At least I wouldn’t.

I recall seeing a Sellers’ video somewhere that showed him and his sons dimensioning boards outside using a tree as a planing stop. Do that! Or something like that. Park a car on one end or something. You need to figure out how to hold the boards firmly before you can get the job done.

If I misunderstood and that’s not the situation, just ignore all that ^ ;-)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View SMP's profile

SMP

449 posts in 202 days


#5 posted 12-17-2018 08:30 PM



Wait, are you trying to joint these 6 boards while holding them at the same time? If so, stop right now ;-P You ll never get it done. At least I wouldn t.

I recall seeing a Sellers video somewhere that showed him and his sons dimensioning boards outside using a tree as a planing stop. Do that! Or something like that. Park a car on one end or something. You need to figure out how to hold the boards firmly before you can get the job done.

If I misunderstood and that s not the situation, just ignore all that ^ ;-)

- HokieKen

Haha, I bought rough 8/4 cabinet lumber so it wouldn’t stand on edge as I bought it. I had to monkey around with it to get one edge flat enough to where it could stand on its own somewhat stable. Now I am butting a scrap piece of wood against the concrete wall in garage, and using that as a makeshift planning stop. So it is pretty steady now.

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HokieKen

8610 posts in 1435 days


#6 posted 12-17-2018 08:38 PM

So you’re jointing the edges… what about the faces? Are they already planed or do you still have to tackle that?

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

461 posts in 200 days


#7 posted 12-17-2018 08:46 PM

No one seems to mention how to check your progress. Experienced hand planers may sight along the jointed edge, that is, look at the edge from surface level. But others would rely on a straight edge ruler with a strong light source behind it to see where the gaps are. Keep working the high spots until there are no gaps.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View SMP's profile

SMP

449 posts in 202 days


#8 posted 12-17-2018 09:04 PM



So you re jointing the edges… what about the faces? Are they already planed or do you still have to tackle that?

- HokieKen

Well, in the videos I am following, Richard says to slightly cup and get the twist out of the bottom of each plank. Then once nailed down, the top will be flattened all at once.

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SMP

449 posts in 202 days


#9 posted 12-17-2018 09:07 PM



No one seems to mention how to check your progress. Experienced hand planers may sight along the jointed edge, that is, look at the edge from surface level. But others would rely on a straight edge ruler with a strong light source behind it to see where the gaps are. Keep working the high spots until there are no gaps.

- Phil32

Yeah that’s kind of what got me to this point. When I thought I had it done this weekend by “listening to the shavings” as Paul Sellers says, since my plane wasn’t cutting anymore. Then I laid a 6’ level on top and realized I had nearly 1/4” gap on one side and about an 1/8th on the other side. I was shocked at how far off I could get.

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

8610 posts in 1435 days


#10 posted 12-17-2018 09:11 PM

Gotcha. I was thinking you would be laminating these boards but I see that they’ll be edge-glued. Makes sense now.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

22387 posts in 2980 days


#11 posted 12-17-2018 10:40 PM

Instead of sitting the plank ON the top of the bench….clamp it along the side of the bench…

Keep one of these handy…

Usually, you want the edge square to the face….bigger planes like to tilt, takes a bit of practice to keep them level

Sight down the length…you will see any high or low spots along the way,

Number 7 and number 8 Jointer planes….

One little tip: Do not grab the front knob on these…makes you want to push down along the length..instead, curl just your thumb over on to the top edge of the plane…the rest goes under the sole of the plane…more to keep the plane level. These bigger planes weigh enough, you do not have to press down hard to use them. Idea being more to control them.

Using a #5 plane? Go along the edge of the board with a pencil, making a series of lines across, the more the better…see which marks disappear after the first pass or two….those will be the “high spots” along the edge. Keep working those spots, and you will see a few more lines go away. Keep going until they are all gone.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View SMP's profile

SMP

449 posts in 202 days


#12 posted 12-18-2018 03:59 PM



Using a #5 plane? Go along the edge of the board with a pencil, making a series of lines across, the more the better…see which marks disappear after the first pass or two….those will be the “high spots” along the edge. Keep working those spots, and you will see a few more lines go away. Keep going until they are all gone.

- bandit571

I used HokieKen’s tips and this pencil trick to get it down pretty good. I ended up with about 1/32 gap on each end, but going to cut some off to length, and will double check afterwards.

Thanks all! This is an interesting skill to build. Definitely more challenging than mindlessly pushing stuff through my jointer.

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SMP

449 posts in 202 days


#13 posted 12-18-2018 04:12 PM

duplicate post, unable to delete

View GaryLSU's profile

GaryLSU

4 posts in 92 days


#14 posted 12-18-2018 08:48 PM

David Charlesworth talks about the difficulty of jointing here – basically agreeing with you that hand planes are not designed to get a straight edge, but that it is possible.

http://www.davidcharlesworth.co.uk/edge-planing-experiment/

View maxyedor's profile

maxyedor

24 posts in 621 days


#15 posted 12-18-2018 11:59 PM

This doesn’t exactly address your question, but there’s a trick I like to use when jointing boards that will go into a panel glue-up. First get them nice and straight, then lay them back-to-back or front to front with the adjoining edges up and take a light pass or two. This will result in any out of square-ness being consistent and opposite on both boards so that when you glue them together there’s a perfect glue-line and they come out perfectly flat. Same trick works on a power jointer if you do 1 board with the top against the fence, and the following one with the bottom against the fence.

As for jointing the long edge to be nice and flat, pencil trick is my favorite, followed by a check with a long known straight-edge to make sure I have a straight line, not just a really smooth arc. I usually end up with snipe, for lack of a better term, and depending on the project and the material in question will just joint boards that are a little longer than I actually need and cut the end off so I can use the good straight bit, this practice is a lot less appealing as woods become more expensive for obvious reasons, works great on Cherry, wouldn’t do it with my stash of Koa.

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