Planing Knots

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Forum topic by andy6601 posted 12-17-2012 12:23 PM 9814 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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91 posts in 3518 days

12-17-2012 12:23 PM

I have been working with a lot of pine lately and I have been doing my best to attempt to select boards that have no knots or at the very least as few as posible. So when it comes to planing the boards down, when using a hand plane do you just plane over them, or around them? I have tried doing both, but I am not sure what is the best way to go about it? I get that having clear stock is the best, but now a days clear lumber of any species is not cheap and sometimes can’t be found. So any advice on this would be great! I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and count their blessings in light of reccent events.

21 replies so far

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1628 posts in 3182 days

#1 posted 12-17-2012 01:34 PM

I work mostly with Pecan because that’s what I have from a downed tree in my yard 14 years ago. I try hand planning that which is EXTREMELY HARD and the knots really cauce chatter and gouges. So any technique that LJers provide will be appreciated also.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 [email protected]

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 4208 days

#2 posted 12-17-2012 02:30 PM

I don’t use knotty pine for precisely that reason, but if I did I would run it through my thickness sander. If I didn’t have that I would do it with a hand-held belt sander, at least to hit knots…I’d handplane the clear wood. But that’s a good question and I’m curious how others would deal with it.

BTW, I’ve done the knots with handplanes in other species without too much issue, but they are so infrequent that I just suck it up and go with. It does dull the iron pretty quickly though.

-- jay,

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Don W

19962 posts in 3617 days

#3 posted 12-17-2012 02:34 PM

For me it depends on the knot. Some can be planed if the plane is good and sharp, but it dulls the plane pretty quickly. I typically us a scraper.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3346 days

#4 posted 12-17-2012 02:47 PM

Since you are hand planing you expect and enjoy irregularity and texture in a surface. I would just use a low angle block plane on the knot, and your number 4 or 5 jack plane on the rest.

View djwong's profile


176 posts in 4270 days

#5 posted 12-17-2012 04:39 PM

I often use a chisel to work knots before planing. You can also use mineral spirits or camilla oil, to soften the knot to make chiseling or planing easier. Using a chisel really saves me from dinging up my plane blades.

-- David W. Cupertino, CA

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3238 days

#6 posted 12-17-2012 06:18 PM

Tough call, as knots can be really hard and the wood around them can have challenging grain to plane. I would try to minimize the amount of planing to do, either by first resawing (if there’s a lot to remove) or using a drum sander with a really coarse grit if there’s less to remove but still too much for planing. After that, it’s either risking tearout on a planer or using a high angle hand plane and scrapers. Sometimes boards with knots will plane remarkable well, using light cuts of course.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 4770 days

#7 posted 12-17-2012 09:56 PM

I recently found that sometimes a spokeshave can handle a knot that a hand plane won’t.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View bobasaurus's profile


3713 posts in 4234 days

#8 posted 12-17-2012 11:47 PM

An extremely sharp blade with a very narrow mouth should do it with fine passes… you could try a higher planing angle too (easy enough on BU planes, but on BD the only way is to relieve the edge opposite the bevel a hair).

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

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5972 posts in 3401 days

#9 posted 12-18-2012 01:29 AM

I try to cut all of the knots out of pine boards. Even if I have to glue up boards from narrow strips. I like pine but not knotty pine. The problems you get into w/ the knot is is just not worth it to me.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View John's profile


47 posts in 3123 days

#10 posted 12-18-2012 01:36 AM

Just hit the occasional knot with your jack plane and see how it goes. Some knots are terrible and some are just a speed bump. You’re planing end-grain, so what you really want is a sharp low-angle blade. I often plane around knots and hit them with a low-angle block plane separately if the jack is unhappy. Sometimes it really helps to wet it with BLO, mineral spirits, or alcohol. The real problem is when the grain around the knot is swirling and you get tearout, so you grab a high-angle smoother to deal with that, which is pretty wrong for the knot itself. Sometimes, a sanding block is the most effective plane…

View andy6601's profile


91 posts in 3518 days

#11 posted 12-18-2012 12:33 PM

Thanks for all of the replies, I try to buy the clearest stock that I can but, even then you end up with knots, I will give all of these a try and it sounds like I may have to try different methods depending on what I see going on with each knot. So thanks everyone for the great advice!

View JohnChung's profile


422 posts in 3124 days

#12 posted 12-18-2012 04:59 PM

Knots can scratch a plane’s sole fast. But what is a plane for? :) For knots I use a 25 angle bevel blade. It will dull the blade faster. If it is still an issue with tearouts then change to a toothed blade. It will help with the knots. Once at the surface is pretty much there use back the normal blade to finish the surface.

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 3405 days

#13 posted 12-19-2012 02:05 AM

super glue may keep the end grain from tearing out, but then it can also block stain to so

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 3143 days

#14 posted 12-20-2012 03:37 AM

I feel your pain. Pine knots are impossible to avoid. A really good, sharp plane can get through them. my Veritas jack can. My Stanley Sweetheart block plane and my older Stanley jack can’t. Knots often also cause tear out, which drive me nuts.

It might help slightly if you wax the sole of your plane.

You could try sanding the knots. But that’s tedious due to their hardness.

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3129 posts in 3075 days

#15 posted 12-20-2012 08:27 AM

Several possibilities: a rotary rasp chucked in your drill; an angle grinder disk with lapped paper layers (as the layers wear away, new grit appears); some other agressive cutters that can go in an angle grinder, such as carbide burrs.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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