How to plane panels after glue up?

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Forum topic by chippytippy posted 01-25-2009 10:35 PM 7891 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View chippytippy's profile


3 posts in 3919 days

01-25-2009 10:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bench plane panel ash plane

Hi guys,
I am a relative newbie to woodworking and for the most part, self taught via the internet and great sites like this one.

Well I’m a bit stumped on a project I am working on and before I really mess it up I thought I would check in here and get some feedback.

I just glued up a small panel that is going to be the top of a jewlery box. Now I need to plane it as the boards shifted a bit and are not perfectly level. I do have Ridgid surface planer but I opted to use my bench plane (no 4 stanley) as I am sure this is a skill I need to develop.

I didnt realize it would be so difficult to get a smooth surface. I cant seem to get the plane to run from one end of the panel to the other without tearout or shagging on something. Is this mainly do to the fact the the grain runs in different directions on each board? There are only three boards, with alternating end grain and I am using ash.

So how do you surface a panel that has several boards, each with a different dirrection inwhiich the grain is running?

Thanks in advance!!


13 replies so far

View woodworm's profile


14475 posts in 4098 days

#1 posted 01-25-2009 11:04 PM

Plane the higher area first. Skew the plane slightly to your left side (for right handed) and make shallow cut in ovelapping passes.
Good luck.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4726 days

#2 posted 01-25-2009 11:41 PM

Or do like me and just use a belt sander. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 4307 days

#3 posted 01-26-2009 12:11 AM

I don’t do much handwork like that, but I do know that it takes time and practice. My abilities in doing this improved 10 fold after I got a good book and had a more experienced friend show me how many years ago. Now I use power tools to get the job done

-- making sawdust....

View woodworm's profile


14475 posts in 4098 days

#4 posted 01-26-2009 01:51 PM

It’s Ok with power tools, but the fundamental issue brought up by Chippytippy is; he opted to use bench plane, so as to develop his skill of using hand tool….

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Texasgaloot's profile


465 posts in 4208 days

#5 posted 01-26-2009 02:59 PM

Woodworm is right on: adjust the iron so that you make sure you are making a very light pass each time, and start with the board that is highest. Try to always plane into dropping grain—if you look at the side of the board and the grain is running up along the side, try reversing the board. Skewing the plane as you go should help dramatically, as the iron is doing more severing than levering. You might want to switch to a No.-5 if you have one, as the No.-4 will follow peaks and valleys and is intended to smooth things up just prior to finishing. Also, make sure your iron is so sharp it scares you!

Many times we will go as far as we can with a plane, getting the boards even and then smoothed out, and then use a card scraper to take out the last little bits of tear out. Popular Woodworking and Sandal Woods will help you out some, too. Great question—when you get it mastered, let us know, too!

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View PetVet's profile


329 posts in 3995 days

#6 posted 01-26-2009 04:04 PM

Also, make sure the plane iron is as sharp as you can get it. A dull iron will increase the amount of tear out you have, as well as make you work so much harder.

-- Rich in Richmond -- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4576 days

#7 posted 01-27-2009 08:08 AM

Chippy, I went through this recently, planing a walnut table top with a lot of mixed grain and surfacing grain reversals. A serious PITA to plane. I ended up planing almost entirely cross grain with a high angle blade to flatten the panels. Then smoothed with a very sharp, high angle blade, set to the lightest cut I could make and still cut wood, and with the tightest mouth opening that would let the wispy shaving through.

I’ve been using a veritas bevel up planes lately and I really like them. I stated with bu jack with a 50 degree iron set to a pretty small cut and mouth opening. Not micro thin but a pretty light cut. After I had the panel flat I switched to a veritas bu smoother, again with a 50 degree blade, freshly sharpened and honed, set to the smallest cut and mouth opening that would cut and pass a shaving. After a LOT LOT LOT of passes and shavings I ended up with a glass smooth surface, no tear out, and that tactile feel you only get from a planed piece of wood.

I posted a couple pictures and some results here.

My advice is sharp irons, very light cuts, paper thin mouth openings, and lots and lots and lots of passes.

As mentioned above plane with the wood not against it whenever possible, but I assume you know that, or at least figured it out quick when you got massive tearout in one direction but not the other.

Good luck and persevere.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4470 days

#8 posted 01-27-2009 02:45 PM

I think that about covers it.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 4499 days

#9 posted 01-27-2009 03:12 PM

Listen to these guy’s they’ve got it right!

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View chippytippy's profile


3 posts in 3919 days

#10 posted 02-06-2009 04:47 AM

Hey guys,
Sorry for the late responce. I finally found the time to come back here!

Many thanks to everyone who gave advice. I skewed the plane like Woodworm suggested and planed from high to lower grain like Texas suggested. I also tightened the blade so it we as close to the mouth as possible and took very light cuts (thanks Colorado) . It took a while, but it sure did the trick!

Now I am about to try my luck with a card scrapper. Slowly but surely the project is coming together. I will definitely post pics when it is done.

Cant thank you all enough for your help!


View marcb's profile


768 posts in 4181 days

#11 posted 02-06-2009 05:46 AM

That’s awesome to hear. Can’t wait to see the project.

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3979 days

#12 posted 02-06-2009 05:55 AM

Use your planer and tell everyone you did it with a hand plane.

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 4250 days

#13 posted 02-06-2009 05:58 PM

”Use your planer and tell everyone you did it with a hand plane”. lol use your drum sander and tell everyone you did it with a hand plane…

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

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