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View trevor7428's profile

Flattening work bench top. What I'm a doing wrong

by trevor7428
posted 02-09-2017 04:47 AM


37 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12950 posts in 2946 days


#1 posted 02-09-2017 04:53 AM

You just learned an important lesson about wood selection and aligning grain direction. Not being a smart ass, we all go through it. I know that different blade angles can help but someone more familiar with that will fill you in. I just always did my best with the planes I have, taking small shavings and working from different directions.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

6140 posts in 2286 days


#2 posted 02-09-2017 04:59 AM

A higher angle (probably higher than you can achieve with a LA jack) and a tight mouth will help but the grain is going to fight you pretty good it sounds like. Is there anyone with a wide planer or belt/drum sander that you could get to run it through for you?

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Johnny7's profile

Johnny7

475 posts in 1656 days


#3 posted 02-09-2017 05:14 AM

To change the effective cutting angle of a bevel up, low-angle plane, you must change the angle at which the blade is ground/honed.

To combat tearout or reversing grain, a higher bedding angle is used. This is precisely why York pitch frogs exist.

changing the frog is not an option on a LA jack, and so to change the blade pitch, you simply change the grind angle.

moving the chipbreaker closer to the edge of the iron is a time-tested method of defeating tear-out, but again, there is no chipbreaker on a bevel up plane.

Lastly, be sure you’re not skewing the plane—this serves only to further reduce the effective cutting angle.

To sum up: your plane, as currently configured, is best suited to end grain work. To conquer the problem you currently have, you need a higher angle

EDIT TO ADD: I see bigblockyeti posted while I was composing my wordy response

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10859 posts in 2052 days


#4 posted 02-09-2017 05:19 AM

Camber the iron. All the irons on my bench planes have some camber and the edges of the iron relieved so it doesn’t make tracks.

I’d vote for higher angle. Especially since LA planes don’t have a chip breaker. A well tuned chipbreaker can eliminate most tearout.

I’d say maybe get it to where it’s just a bit of tearout here or there which won’t matter anyway because it should come off with jointing and smoothing. After roughing and taking the wind out of the is any.

Edit: there’s probably nothing you couldn’t do with the LAJ but at this stage it may be tedious especially if it’s your only plane and with only one iron. The versatility of a LAJ lies with being able to swap out irons with different angles rather quickly because there is no cap iron to set.

Whether or not, I’d still recommend a #4 regardless and a #7 if your bench is longer than 4’

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

676 posts in 1314 days


#5 posted 02-09-2017 02:20 PM

Take a different approach. Put it on the table saw and cut it in half lengthwise. Run the halves through your planer till flat, then glue it back together. Use cauls when gluing, and use biscuits for help with alignment. Pat self on back and quit worrying about frog angles.

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

2572 posts in 2364 days


#6 posted 02-09-2017 02:40 PM

Douglas fir with knots is impossible to handplane.
Aj

-- Aj

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

6794 posts in 2831 days


#7 posted 02-09-2017 02:46 PM

What AJ said!

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2839 posts in 2862 days


#8 posted 02-09-2017 03:25 PM

“Unfortunately the grain is going all over the place and knots every which way” – you answered your own question. I’d put another sacrificial surface of some kind of plywood on what you already have.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

117800 posts in 4143 days


#9 posted 02-09-2017 03:36 PM

It’s more than just the flattening process if you’re using construction grade material your wood will move all over the place as it drys plus Doug fir is hard to plane and next to impossible if still wet.

View WillliamMSP's profile

WillliamMSP

1100 posts in 2170 days


#10 posted 02-09-2017 03:37 PM

Cutting with a low angle is great for stuff like end grain, but can be problematic against the grain (or with switching grain) and is the reason that LV and LN have multiple blades for their LAJs.

A no-money solution may be to put a steeper microbevel on your existing blade – it shouldn’t take too much work, but the downside is a lot of grinding should you ever want to take that blade back down to 25° Otherwise, you could look in to buying a higher angle blade and/or a toothed blade.

This HWW video on the LN LAJ may offer some insight (jump to 2:30 or so for the relevant bits) -


View on YouTube

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View RogerM's profile

RogerM

801 posts in 2965 days


#11 posted 02-09-2017 03:40 PM

What you have described is one of the reasons that you use good, dry, straight grain hardwood (maple, beech, birch) for a nice flat workbench. It sounds like you have a decent workbench for doing a lot of things but it will never be consistently flat and true which is quite acceptable for doing a lot of things in a workshop. Putting forth effort to flatten a work surface made with construction grade lumber and keeping it flat is futile and a waste of time.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View Robert's profile

Robert

3571 posts in 2046 days


#12 posted 02-09-2017 03:56 PM

Jim brings up a good point. With some kinds of lumber getting it flat is one thing, keeping it flat is something else. Using construction lumber with 20%MC is not a good formula.

William also. You might try re-bevelling your iron to get it in the 50° range, but if you have gnarly wood grain especially around knots, its going to be a pita.

I’m going to suggest an alternative, kind of radical approach: rip all the boards apart down the glue lines and start over. Rip them down to 2 1/2 inches wide and glue faces together (you may need to buy some more lumber). IOW the edges of the boards will become the top. This will give you a thicker top plus make flattening easier because you’re not planing face grain.

Glue them up in 2 or 3 pieces wide enough to fit your planer. After planing, glue the 3 pieces together.

This time be sure to have all the grain orientations the same and the process may go better.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View trevor7428's profile

trevor7428

266 posts in 1527 days


#13 posted 02-09-2017 04:28 PM

Thanks everyone for the reply. Normally I would glue two pieces at a time or until 12 to 13 inch wide. Run both 13” sections threw planer then glue up the two halves.

The reason I didn’t, is because I want to get more experienced with hand planes. Good to know Douglas fir is hard to plane for everyone and not just me. (Even tho, they have been air dried in my garage for almost 2 months, so not wet)

Like I said, I want to get into hand planes more. So with a bigger tax return then expected I went all out and I purchased Veritas BU #4 smooth plane with 50 degree blade and Veritas low angle jack with 50 degree blade. Then plan on selling my sweetheart after new planes arrive.

I wanted to get a bevel down plane, but from what I can tell. Veritas bevel down planes can’t adjust blade while planing like the Stanley’s can.

My thing is, i want a plane that doesn’t need hours of work. Which is why I choose Veritas.

If anyone refers a different bevel down plane with normal Baileys style adjuster with same quality as Veritas. I’m interested.

Oh, I also bought the Veritas router plane (large) and medium shoulder plane. (All planes purchased where PM-V11 blades.

-- Thank You Trevor OBrion

View WillliamMSP's profile

WillliamMSP

1100 posts in 2170 days


#14 posted 02-09-2017 04:34 PM


If anyone refers a different bevel down plane with normal Baileys style adjuster with same quality as Veritas. I m interested.

- trevor7428

Lie-Nielsen bench planes are based on Stanley Bedrocks.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View MikeB_UK's profile

MikeB_UK

151 posts in 1600 days


#15 posted 02-09-2017 04:43 PM

Right, construction lumber, something I can answer for once :)

Short strokes, plane into the knots, and don’t go past them or, as you find, you get huge chips tearing out.

For the really gnarly bits you really want a toothing plane and card scraper.

However as you are using constuction lumber I’m guessing you are broke like me :-
So get a cheap saw, ideally fairly fine toothed (20 TPI gents saw), clamp it between a couple of bits of wood so just the ends of the teeth are showing and, hey presto, instant toothing plane.

This can now scratch down the surface, doesn’t matter about grain direction or knots, you can then either smooth out the teeth marks with a freshly sharpened plane or a card scraper.

-- If I say I'll fix something around the house I will, there is no use nagging about it every 6 months.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10859 posts in 2052 days


#16 posted 02-09-2017 05:10 PM

I have a set of LN bench and joinery planes and they are top notch. they are more than likely going to cost more than veritas but they are awesome.

You could probably get a cheap vintage #4 or #5 and use it as a scrub to begin with. Harbor freights Windsor 33 is popular as a scrub. If you have more than a 1/4” difference from your high to low spots you need something to scoop out material quickly. Taking a bunch of thin shavings is t necessary at this point.

I would even consider ripping it down and running through the planer to get it close.

Edit: a toothing iron would be an excellent idea for your LA plane.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12950 posts in 2946 days


#17 posted 02-09-2017 06:18 PM



Douglas fir with knots is impossible to handplane.
Aj

- Aj2


This too. The D fir we get here is so brittle I don’t believe any plane would work against the grain.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View trevor7428's profile

trevor7428

266 posts in 1527 days


#18 posted 02-10-2017 12:01 AM


Lie-Nielsen bench planes are based on Stanley Bedrocks.

- WillliamMSP

Oh wow, I didnt no that. For some reason I assumed lie Nelson used the Norris style like veritas does

I will defense check out there website now.

If I did get a bevel down plane, which would u recommend? #4, #5 or #7 (smooth, jack, jointer)

Like I said I already have Bevel up smooth and jack (or waiting to arrive in mail)

-- Thank You Trevor OBrion

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

929 posts in 2150 days


#19 posted 02-10-2017 12:24 AM

Reading through threads like this leads me to two conclusions, at least for the moment:

One is, I know essentially nothing about hand planes, since I can’t understand much, if any, of this discussion.

And, I am certainly pleased that I’ve made benches and other projects with sheet goods or even solid core doors, and don’t spend much if any time getting a planar work surface.

.,..,.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10859 posts in 2052 days


#20 posted 02-10-2017 12:24 AM

I’d say a 4 or 7. You’d probably use a 4 more than a 7 unless you have some longer projects in mind afterward.

A toothing iron for the LAJ wouldn’t hurt either.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Dan Wolfgang's profile

Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 1373 days


#21 posted 02-10-2017 02:05 AM

Lots of good comments on planes, but what immediately struck me is that you might be missing some technique. Based on what you’re describing, I would use a straight edge and grease pencil to identify the high spots on the workbench top. Then, go about planing them down. Don’t both going over the whole top yet, just those high sections. Grab the straight edge again and recheck, and repeat until it looks pretty good. Then go about flattening the whole top by going across, diagonally, then with the grain.

View Marcial's profile

Marcial

179 posts in 1111 days


#22 posted 02-10-2017 05:04 AM

Sounds like what you’re starting out with is unstable. I haven’t used a router-on-a-sled approach but that, then sanding, then observe to see if it stays flat might be your best option. I used a #7 VERITAS jointer to get mine level after gluing up 3 sections. Thankfully, it didn’t take too long. If the top stays reasonable after awhile, then you could use a jointer plane: my plane allowed for very fine shavings. Even then, I had some small tear out with my maple.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19387 posts in 3133 days


#23 posted 02-10-2017 05:22 PM

Without pictures it’s hard to tell how bad what your describing is, but a bench top needs to be reasonably flat, but it doesn’t need to be void of all flaws. I’m not sure I would worry about some tear out on a Douglas fir benchtop.

If it’s flat, give it a few coats of oil and use it.

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

16261 posts in 3184 days


#24 posted 02-10-2017 07:45 PM

Of all these comments, many of them quite good, I’m in line with Don the most. Run your diagonals to flatten, try some exquisitely fine passes with a panel plane (#4 1/2 would be ideal, but you ain’t got one), and stop / use the bench! The toothing ‘saw’ suggestion was also good if you want an interim between traversing and smoothing. But, bottom line, smooth isn’t needed. Or even necessarily desirable as smooth = less grippy with stock being worked. My benchtop has a toothing iron finish (for example) that I refresh to get toothy again when it wears smooth.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Tim's profile

Tim

3859 posts in 2527 days


#25 posted 02-10-2017 08:40 PM



Without pictures it s hard to tell how bad what your describing is, but a bench top needs to be reasonably flat, but it doesn t need to be void of all flaws. I m not sure I would worry about some tear out on a Douglas fir benchtop.

If it s flat, give it a few coats of oil and use it.

- Don W

This is a really good point. If you’re not going for a showpiece, but to use it, the tear out on a bench top doesn’t matter much. Now if you’re just trying to learn how to avoid tear out, that’s a different thing. Then the toothing blade, whether bought or homemade sounds an interesting idea. I haven’t tried one but I’d like to see how it works.

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

2572 posts in 2364 days


#26 posted 02-10-2017 09:24 PM

Just keep planing that Knotty Dougfir and your plane iron will have plenty of teeth.:)

Aj

-- Aj

View bobasaurus's profile

bobasaurus

3616 posts in 3750 days


#27 posted 02-10-2017 10:00 PM

Maybe a toothing blade for the coarse cuts, then smooth with a high angle blade or a BU plane with a close-set chipbreaker and tight mouth.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10859 posts in 2052 days


#28 posted 02-11-2017 01:04 AM



Without pictures it s hard to tell how bad what your describing is, but a bench top needs to be reasonably flat, but it doesn t need to be void of all flaws. I m not sure I would worry about some tear out on a Douglas fir benchtop.

If it s flat, give it a few coats of oil and use it.

- Don W


Pretty much Ditto. You can always get it working and then do a fine smoothing later.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View trevor7428's profile

trevor7428

266 posts in 1527 days


#29 posted 02-15-2017 03:16 AM


This is a really good point. If you re not going for a showpiece, but to use it, the tear out on a bench top doesn t matter much. Now if you re just trying to learn how to avoid tear out, that s a different thing. Then the toothing blade, whether bought or homemade sounds an interesting idea. I haven t tried one but I d like to see how it works.

- Tim

Yes the whole point of this post was to learn. I want to get into hand tools. I actually just bought some planes from lee valley waiting for them to arrive.

-- Thank You Trevor OBrion

View trevor7428's profile

trevor7428

266 posts in 1527 days


#30 posted 02-15-2017 04:58 AM

So I picked up a WoodRiver #7 bevel down Jointer plane. Man is it like night and day compared to my stanely sweetheart low angle jack.

After honing the #7 blade and flattening the back (which did take alot longer then I thought) on my worksharp. I decided to see what would happen on my workbench.

Not 1 chipout. It was even cleaning up all the chipout that I made with the low angle jack. First I was doing transparent thin shaving, then started to go thicker. Not once did I experience the issues I had with the LAJ. Except make my hands tired fast lol

-- Thank You Trevor OBrion

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10859 posts in 2052 days


#31 posted 02-15-2017 05:45 AM

Awesome. Glad to hear another one is sliding down the slope :)

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View MustacheMike's profile

MustacheMike

263 posts in 2654 days


#32 posted 02-15-2017 10:41 AM

Here is a video we did on bench flatining a while back, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBHyVhZ3jR8

-- You can trust Mike -" because I will never pull your stash!" See my show weekly at Stumpynubs.com

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

16261 posts in 3184 days


#33 posted 02-15-2017 01:41 PM

Congrats, Trevor. Good to hear you have it figured out!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View dday's profile

dday

172 posts in 1995 days


#34 posted 02-15-2017 01:42 PM

What Kirk said. That’s what I did. Cut it into sections, run them through your planer until perfectly flat and smooth , and exactly the same thickness and then carefully glue them back together on a known flat surface, with cauls and mechanical help ( biscuits, dowels or in my case threaded rod) to keep them aligned.

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7804 posts in 3480 days


#35 posted 02-15-2017 02:01 PM


Reading through threads like this leads me to two conclusions, at least for the moment:
One is, I know essentially nothing about hand planes, since I can t understand much, if any, of this discussion.
And, I am certainly pleased that I ve made benches and other projects with sheet goods or even solid core doors, and don t spend much if any time getting a planar work surface.
- jimintx

IMO, you need the surface of the workbench MORE than you need it as a learning tool for hand-planing. That said, +10 on topping the bench with sheet goods, aka 3/4in plywood. You can teach yourself proper use of handplanes on smaller, more controllable pieces/projects.

BTW, I too gouged my workbench project trying to learn more about hand-planing, and I had ~$1k invested in White Ash and hardware. It is just better to learn on smaller projects in some cases. Just my 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View trevor7428's profile

trevor7428

266 posts in 1527 days


#36 posted 02-15-2017 08:05 PM



So I picked up a WoodRiver #7 bevel down Jointer plane. Man is it like night and day compared to my stanely sweetheart low angle jack.

After honing the #7 blade and flattening the back (which did take alot longer then I thought) on my worksharp. I decided to see what would happen on my workbench.

Not 1 chipout. It was even cleaning up all the chipout that I made with the low angle jack. First I was doing transparent thin shaving, then started to go thicker. Not once did I experience the issues I had with the LAJ. Except make my hands tired fast lol

- trevor7428

Correction I picked up the #6 fore plane, not the #7

The #6 looks so huge without a #7 nearby to compare too

-- Thank You Trevor OBrion

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2453 posts in 2555 days


#37 posted 02-15-2017 10:04 PM

A 42 cutting angle (30 bevel + 12 bed) is for end grain. Use a minimum 50 cut angle (38* bevel) for face or edge grain. Any knotty softwood is a pita to plane, but a bu with the correct angle will do just fine. Welcome to hand planes, its a slipery slope.

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