Iím jumping in on this post late because Iíve said forever the hand plane is one of the most difficult of all woodworking tools to master.
After reading Amishís original post, here are some assumptions Iíve made:
A quality plane
A sharp blade
Attention to the adjustments
Here are a few tips Iíve used for many years that I hope will help.
I store all my planes on their side. This keeps the blade from contact and keeps me from having to readjust the depth every time I want to use it.
Any time I start to plane, I bring a straight edge and a pencil to the workbench with the plane.
I plane the board holding the plane at about a 30 degree angle to the board. On really hardwoods itís okay to use a non-staining lubricant like kerosene or paint thinner to give you an easier slide.
Once the rough is off, I start using the straight edge. I mark only the high spots with the pencil. These are the only places I plane until I have the board flat. Donít keep planing in a low spot. Check your board with the straight edge after every 5 passes marking the high spots until you get it flat.
As far as the knob being hard to turn, I would rarher have a hard turn than a loose knob. Once you have your depth of cut adjustment, donít touch the knob again. Turn the plane upside down and sight the blade angle with the bed to assure you have it absolutely straight and not planing with your blade at an angle. Ideally, I try to plane a shaving that is so thin, itís almost transparent.
And it takes some practice to get ďa feelĒ for planing. Softwoods are easier to plane and best to practice on. Some hardwoods have such wild grain they are challenging for the most experienced woodworker.
If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?