How to Hand Plane my bench top

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Forum topic by ERICsoBAD posted 02-11-2015 02:04 AM 1376 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ERICsoBAD's profile


9 posts in 2026 days

02-11-2015 02:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question milling plane

Hey guys! Finished puting together my first workbench and now it needs to be planed. I have A Jack and a smoother. I worked it for about 2-3 hours the other day and got it mostly planed. However I noticed using my straight edge Im hollow in a few spots by a less than a sheet of paper. maybe ~3-4 thousands of an inch…

A. What margin of Flat do most of you use? Is this within acceptable range? (its like 2 spots no bigger than the palm my hand)

B. Is there a video (youtube? etc.) you can recommend that has a surefire technique used to make perfect flat.

I have used the pencil marking technique to track my surface high-points so far. My bench is 60”x30”.

15 replies so far

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1925 posts in 2778 days

#1 posted 02-11-2015 02:09 AM

First off I am not being critical and I applaud your success in what you have accomplished. But 3 to 4 thousands of an inch?! On two spots on a workbench that big! Wow! Not to be critical but you don’t need it super duper flat. Just flat. At least that’s what I went with. I have the same size as you and I just used my router with a sled and flattened it. There are some hollows but I don’t let that bother me. I would say that you are perfect now

Bravo to you for dedicating yourself to that, but to me it’s a work surface and flat is good enough. I think you are fine where you are. Others may be more critical than me however.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View BurlyBob's profile


7713 posts in 3074 days

#2 posted 02-11-2015 02:47 AM

I got to agree with the Swede. Man, quit being so anal. If yer that close you’ve hit the sweetspot!!!! Go for it, live the good life, you’ve reached the summit!!! A few thousands is the difference between 100 grit sand paper and 600 grit. Grab yourself some good Scotch, sit back and pat yourself on the back, bask in the glory of your creation. You did what a bunch of todays nerds can’t do. Congrats man!!!

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 2677 days

#3 posted 02-11-2015 02:51 AM

“I planed my bench and there was this one spot that had like a full 4 thousandths concave, nearly the size of my palm”. #humblebrag

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 2031 days

#4 posted 02-11-2015 03:14 AM

If you prefer to continue being anal and you have a router you could build yourself a jig to plane the surface.
Be aware that over a period of time it will likely wrack out of perfect regardless of what you do or don’t do.

-- I meant to do that!

View ERICsoBAD's profile


9 posts in 2026 days

#5 posted 02-11-2015 03:19 AM

Lol Humblebrag, i like that.

Ok, thanks for the perspective change. I was really being retarded and was thinking if I started going at it again I wouldn’t be able to get it that close again without some technique I’m currently unaware of…

Bob I can always use an excuse to break out my highland park.

Thanks guys.

View ColonelTravis's profile


1976 posts in 2703 days

#6 posted 02-11-2015 03:43 AM

In my book, anyone who drinks Highland Park has a license to be anal.
Sir, I salute your drink of choice and flatness of top.

View PatrickH's profile


51 posts in 2696 days

#7 posted 02-11-2015 03:07 PM

I agree with what the others have said. Ultimately, you just don’t want flat stock to rock on the bench top.


View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1925 posts in 2778 days

#8 posted 02-11-2015 03:14 PM

Eric I hope you don’t think what we were saying comes out negative. What you did is amazing, and I am really in awe of your dedication with handplanes. That is a skill that can only benefit you in your craft. We just didn’t want you to make yourself crazy. Anytime you have a question please ask. I get help here all the time, it’s a great site

And welcome to lumberjocks by the way

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View BurlyBob's profile


7713 posts in 3074 days

#9 posted 02-11-2015 05:53 PM

Sounds like I’m gonna have to try Highland Park. Maybe later this month when SWMBO is out of town for the weekend. So Eric enjoy that bench. I’m looking forward to building one later this summer. I’m still in the planning and decision making stage. Wish I could find some of those good eastern hardwood at a decent price around here. I’ve settled with the idea of Doug fir 2X6’s for it. Somewhere between 42”-48” by 84”, to include a 6” tool trough in the middle. Still contemplating the base. Do I go with shaker style or big legs and a shelf? I’ve seen some discussion on workbench smack down that the base should be built first. So I’m going to go that route.

Burly Bob

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16812 posts in 3427 days

#10 posted 02-12-2015 04:04 AM

Eric – gotta see pictures of that bench, you’re holding out on us…

(Pics or it didn’t happen, in other words)

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

View Aj2's profile


3187 posts in 2607 days

#11 posted 02-12-2015 04:20 AM

I like to keep my bench top flat mostly because I use it like a tool.I use a veritas 36 inch straigh edge to check my progress pretty much just need to knock down the high spots. The low areas that show up I will scrap them to match the rest of the bench.I get distracted easy.For a top coat I use mineral spirits and tung or linseed oil.50/50 mix.My bench is where I start and finish my best work.

-- Aj

View RMorris's profile


30 posts in 2011 days

#12 posted 02-12-2015 04:25 AM

Wow. A few thousandths of an inch with wood….get an iron out and steam that spot for half a second and it will come right up for ya. Just don’t breathe and make sure you control the humidity and temperature in your shop, wouldn’t want it to be a thousandths of in other spots as that would be disastrous! LOL in all seriousness, you have a great deal of patience to get where you did as others have pointed out.

-- If you are going to make it, make it last.

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 3806 days

#13 posted 02-12-2015 02:42 PM

Appreciate the level surface.
It is a workbench.
One day you will get a nail hole.
One day you may get a drill bit hole.
One day you may get the dreaded saw blade cut.
One day a gop of print that wasn’t cleaned up right away.
It is a workbench and all these things may happen.
If you want it look pretty all the time you wont be getting the value of building it, you will spend more time leveling, polishing etc.
It is similar to having a workshop and NEVER allowing dust on the floor, or tools out of place !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View ERICsoBAD's profile


9 posts in 2026 days

#14 posted 02-12-2015 03:05 PM

I hadn’t planned on putting a coat on it. In fact I have already started building a moxon vise however I think its a little premature as I haven’t drilled any dogs, yet. I had resigned to the fact that the bench top is gonna get beat up a lot and have stopped sweating it. How think a finish is that important?

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 3806 days

#15 posted 02-12-2015 03:11 PM

I have no finish on mine. Others may disagree. Every now and then I do replane my surface to get it back to being smooth and clean.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

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