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Okay, my first post to Lumberjocks!

I'm working through a tutorial for a fridge bottle cap catch. I'm doing it in part to use two kinds of wood for the first time. (I work at MIT, which has a logo that lends itself well to such a project.) The purpleheart turned out to be about 1/8" thicker than the maple, but the piece needs to be smooth on all six sides.

It's a small piece, roughly 7" x 3.5". One tip I found online was to place a jackplane upsidedown in a vice and run the piece along the plane's blade. Is that the best, safest way to remove the unwanted 1/8"? Or would you recommend something else?

I've considered using my belt sander to do this but found, in past projects, that doing so can result in something uneven and grain that is marred. I plan a slight rout on the edges too, so any uneven work with a belt sander near those edges would be made more obvious. I've tried palm sanders too in the past, but even 1/8" has seemed too much for it to handle.

Here's the work so far for reference. Any recommendations for the proper tool and technique?

 

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Double sided tape or hot glue is your friend. if you are doing this with hand tools just stick it down to the bench and you are set. If you are using a planning sled with a power planner glue a small stop thiner than the pieces to the sled at the bottom and possibly one edge than stick the pieces down with a little hot glue so the tape doesn't create a tapered piece.
 

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Make a plywood jig you can screw down to a work surface. Just a simple one, maybe an "L" shaped one to fit two edges. 3/4" will do. Place the part into the jig, and add a clamp to hold it in place.

Jack plane to flatten the surface. Go at the diagonal to the grain, first. Then go with the grain when it is also flat. A smooth plane can then finish the job.

Note: on that jig…set it up so the plane will head towards the corner of the jig. It will hold the part a bit better, that way. One could add a 3/4" plywood strip along one open side. To tighten into the jig, add a shim or two. The shims come in a package, and are for installing door frames in a house. You can split them down a bit to get them thin enough. Won't hurt the plane IF you do happen to run over a shim.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You guys are great! I'm glad the hand plane is indeed an option, as it's a tool I've needed to buy. And such a simple jig is a great option, because now I don't have to get/install a bench vice…for now. :)

@bendit571, the shims would still be necessary even though my piece has nice square corners? (I cleaned it up with my mitre saw.)

And again, for a first post to a woodworkers forum, these replies/support make me really happy.
 

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I agree that a handplane is ideal for this. I'd use a does foot notched batten in conjunction with another piece of wood to hold the piece. The planing stop can be as simple as a strip of wood clamped to the bench.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hm, as a first-time planer, I had a lot of trouble last night running it over the wood at all. So just to be sure it's me needing to learn better technique and planer setup/maintenance: planing should indeed work on a small piece with parts that extend 3/8" above the rest? It seemed like no matter the depth of the iron, it simply jammed itself into the raised pieces.

(Fortunately I did all this on the underside of the piece, for practice.)
 

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It looks like the grain is running along the short dimension. Make sure your not trying to plane cross grain, this would guarantee tear out. Also make sure your cutter is sharp. What size plane are you using? Givenn the small size of your work I would stick with a block or skew block.
 

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I would agree with Dale M, A router plane set up will be the fastest, most accurate, and easiest.

best wishes Lynn
 

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Were you using a just purchased hand plane? If so, the blade probably didn't come sharpened, just ground to proper bevel. Look for videos on doing initial hand plane setup - there are a bunch on YouTube.

Also, totally back up the iron until it isn't even touching the wood. Then increment iron down in very slight adjustments as you test it across the board. Stop when it just barely cuts a shaving off.

As already mentioned, the purpleheart appears to have grain running sideways to length of piece so plane across width instead of with length.

I'm relatively new to the hand plane scene and these are tips that have helped me…
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
With a router plane, would that mean clamping two bits of flat scrap taller than my piece on either side of my piece, setting the depth of the router plane to the lowest point that I need, and start routing away?
 

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I can't tell from the photo if those marks are grain or saw marks but you will want to run the plane with the grain. Even so if you where taking a light cut and had a sharp iron you should have taken shavings it would have just tore out the grain if you went the wrong direction.

Once you have a sharp iron start with it fully retracted so you can move the plane over the surface of the piece without having it catch than advance it a little at a time until it just starts to catch. The first few passes will be nothing but dust as you take off the ridges from the saw marks but as you work down you should start to get shavings. You might want to advance it just a little more depending on how thick the shavings are but at point keep them as thin as you can given how little area you are working. It's easy to over advance your iron at this stage and start to dig into the work thinking you are not taking enough off but it's better to keep a light cut and work down the high spots than try and take to much wood off at once especially since you are probably pretty close to the final thickness you want anyways. You are wanting to clean up the saw marks and smooth the faces out not do bulk stock removal.
 

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Wouldn't slicing off the face with a bandsaw be 100 times quicker and then plane it from there, that is providing you actually do have a bandsaw, ignore my comment if you don't.
 
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