Hand planing or power planing? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 05-30-2016, 06:43 AM Thread Starter
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Hand planing or power planing?

Many traditional woodworkers use hand planes and some light sanding by hand for achieving an almost mirror like finish on flat surfaces.

The other school of thought prefers power planning followed by heavy sanding by orbital sanders to remove the inevitable imperfections caused by planer knives.

Like the gentleman in this video, I prefer hand planing:

Which technique do you prefer, and why?

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post #2 of 19 Old 05-30-2016, 07:02 AM
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I hate working with a hand plane. The only time I use one is to trim the edge of a door swollen by humidity. On the edges of a board it's too time consuming getting the board straight and square. On the face it's too difficult to get the wood to a uniform thickness. I think a planer and sanders are a better solution.
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post #3 of 19 Old 05-30-2016, 08:48 AM
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Let's see, I have 200 board feet of 1/4 sawn white oak in the rough.

Do I use a hand plane on all of it to bring it to 13/16" thickness from 1"+?

Or do I use a planer, with a spiral cutter head that produces an incredible finish?

It's a days/weeks discussion versus a few hours.

Every tool has it's place, I use hand planes for smaller work, and the planer for bigger work.

I also use a hand scraper a lot instead for sanding, where it makes sense, produces a great finish.

I like a good, well tuned plane, but that doesn't mean it's the only tool I use.
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post #4 of 19 Old 05-30-2016, 09:32 AM
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How to finish wood?

First is sawing either with a bandsaw or circular saw to get a square "rough sawn" cant. Then jointing and planing to square, flatten, smooth and dimension the surfaces.

Using power tools:
1. A power planer and jointer in combination will square, flatten and dimension the wood. They will leave small, barely perceptible "divots" which will have to be sanded out. This is because of the rotary motion of the cutterhead above the material.
2. You can use a wide belt sander which will sand in the same direction as the grain and use progressively finer grits to remove any machine marks.
3. You can use a ROS sander with progressively finer grits to remove any machine marks.

Using hand tools:
You can use a hand plane to square, flatten and dimension your rough sawn material. Very little hand sanding will be required after using a hand plane. Why?
It's the manner in which the plane removes the material... a linear motion removing a thin shaving and leaving a smooth surface. Obviously, hand tools will take much longer to surface a pile of rough sawn wood than power tools. I use power tools for that.


Now what? Should you sand or scrape the surface using a hand held "card" scraper? Here's both sides of that discussion:
http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/arti...g-vs-scraping/
http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online...finishing.html
I have become a fan of scraping in conjunction with sanding. It leaves a smooth surface ready for finishing.

Sanding is "abrasive" in nature and remove the fibers of the wood by small sharp protrusions, the grit. You must work through the whole range of grits to eliminate the coarser lines made by the previous grit. Then repeat again with a finer grit until you have removed all the swirl marks.

Planing is a shearing operation rather than abrasive which slices the fibers off cleanly leaving a smooth surface. Power planing is a "scooping" action removing minute chips, unlike hand planing which removes thin shavings. So, hand planing leaves a smoother surface than power planing. This is why most completely equipped shops have both a power planer and a wide belt or drum sander.


Now you can apply the finish. Sealing the wood surface leaves a smooth, but not perfect surface. Sanding will level it out and remove any "pips" of dust that settled on it. Then you apply a series of top coats and sand lightly between them to build a perfectly smooth surface. OR you can use a scraper and lightly drag it across the surface removing any pips and leaving a glass smooth surface.

Then you can buff it out if you want a high gloss surface that reflects like a mirror. The buffing compound contains very finely ground abrasives that polish the surface. There are different grits of buffing compound as well.

The only time I have buffed a surface is on automotive applications. Some 2 part finishes come out so sooth and glossy, that no buffing is needed. :smile3:
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Last edited by woodnthings; 05-30-2016 at 10:07 AM.
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post #5 of 19 Old 05-30-2016, 11:32 AM Thread Starter
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Of course, one is not referring to the industrial setting where hand planing is never an option. Hundreds of square feet of rough sawn boards will take forever to plane by hand and is not a cost effective scenario.

My query is more about making individual one-off pieces where you have both the options.

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post #6 of 19 Old 05-30-2016, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jig_saw View Post
Of course, one is not referring to the industrial setting where hand planing is never an option. Hundreds of square feet of rough sawn boards will take forever to plane by hand and is not a cost effective scenario.

My query is more about making individual one-off pieces where you have both the options.
Your question is just a personal choice thing. For those that like the nostalgic aspect of working with hand planes it's great if you're just looking for the end result that is a different story. These craftsman of old didn't invent a jointer and planer just to be different.
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post #7 of 19 Old 05-30-2016, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jig_saw View Post
Of course, one is not referring to the industrial setting where hand planing is never an option. Hundreds of square feet of rough sawn boards will take forever to plane by hand and is not a cost effective scenario.

My query is more about making individual one-off pieces where you have both the options.
That's not how you worded the original question.

Depends, but mostly planer first, then hand plane.
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post #8 of 19 Old 05-30-2016, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, it is a matter of personal choice and both options do exist even for professional woodworkers. As the video in my original post mentions, it may even save time to hand plane an item as large as a table top when compared to working it over with an ROS. And often with a better surface finish.

I also disagree that hand planing can't be the first step from sawn lumber to finished project. A large (18"-22") jointer plane can quickly flatten a large board, which can then be smoothed by a smaller jack plane. I always reach for my bench planes whenever any planing or smoothing is required, including re-sawn lumber. For edge trimming and end grain work the block planes come out of the drawer.

Furthermore, it is fun to work with a finely tuned hand plane! The shavings are one's own reward.

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post #9 of 19 Old 05-30-2016, 01:04 PM
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I never reach for my jointer plane ....

Unless I have a large surface like a table top, all my boards go through the thickness planer first. I ran a bunch .... of boards through the table saw and straight lined on edge. Then they can be parallel edged without the jig. Then they are jointed and thickness planed.

The "bunch" of boards ....


The large door build:





The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #10 of 19 Old 05-30-2016, 01:16 PM
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Power planer only. I have hand tools and know how to use/sharpen them. I do not use hand tools.
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post #11 of 19 Old 05-30-2016, 09:47 PM
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linear motion power planer....?

How about a powered "hand plane" on steroids:
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The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #12 of 19 Old 05-31-2016, 06:30 AM Thread Starter
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Well, to each his own!

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post #13 of 19 Old 05-31-2016, 09:06 AM
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I have a few hand planes, but rarely use them. For glued up flat surfaces, like a table top, I may use a cabinet scraper to take down whatever differences there may be between boards, but more often I'll go directly with the ROS. Besides, with the ROS, I can work it with one hand & have the other hand free for my beer.
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post #14 of 19 Old 05-31-2016, 11:52 AM
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Smaller projects I will hog off excess the easiest way at hand, then use the hand planes. I personally won't use my hand planes on rough sawn lumber for a couple of reasons, first, usually too much dust on the rough sawn lumber to dull an iron quickly and too much work to remove the excess for me. I like to save my arm for the finish. JMHO

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post #15 of 19 Old 05-31-2016, 06:05 PM
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On a large piece like a finished door that needs a trim, a hand plane works best. The door is too large to easily run over a joiner.
Same with large glue-ups too wide for a small planer. The hand plane works best.
But machines trump hand tools anytime I can use them.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #16 of 19 Old 06-01-2016, 06:31 PM
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I think this topic is akin to asking what brand of took to buy. Some use power only, others hand tools only, and yet others like myself have hybrid shops. When I started wood working I was all power. As my interest grew I started using more hand tools. I try and use power tools less and less as time goes on, but it all depends upon the project.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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post #17 of 19 Old 06-02-2016, 01:36 AM
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There is a balance that I think is a lot easier to strike than some of you make it out to be. There has been a lot more wood working done with hand tools than has ever been done with electricity. I mean....I'm not going to spend a week planing a lumber pile either though. Unless I had a good reason. Haha

Personally, I love my bench top planer. Most of my material is REALLY rough. But after getting the rough stock flat and square with the miter saw, table saw, jointer and planer, hand tools are the way to go for me. Any cuts I'll do with a hand saw, joints with chisels and smoothing with a hand plane. I planed my 3 foot x 5 foot bench top smooth in about 20 minutes after using a router sled to flatten it. It would have taken me at least an hour and quite a few different grits to do that sanding.

You can spend 10 minutes sharpening and using a plane or 45 minutes sanding the same area. A place for every tool for sure, and a smile on my face either way! Sometimes taking a few extra minutes planing those table legs just right pays off. When you get to feel them every day and know you made it just so with your own hands.

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post #18 of 19 Old 06-02-2016, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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A point that may have been missed in this discussion:
How easy (or difficult) it is to pass a wide board through a thickness planer/jointer? Does it not have a limited width?
How does one avoid the thickness planer/jointer mutilating a highly figured/knotted board with grains going in all directions?
Can a thickness planer/jointer plane only one side of a round piece?

In all the above, a hand plane gives a much better flexibility and produces much better results.

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post #19 of 19 Old 06-02-2016, 07:00 AM
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we know where you stand on this

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jig_saw View Post
A point that may have been missed in this discussion:
How easy (or difficult) it is to pass a wide board through a thickness planer/jointer? Does it not have a limited width?
How does one avoid the thickness planer/jointer mutilating a highly figured/knotted board with grains going in all directions?
Can a thickness planer/jointer plane only one side of a round piece?

In all the above, a hand plane gives a much better flexibility and produces much better results.
The width of a board that will fit in a thickness planer depends on the size of the planer... up to 36" for industrial planers.

Highly figured grain can be successfully planed with segmented or spiral cutters, even some straight blade cutters.

A round log can be jointed with a proper holding jig.

There are occaissons in which the hand plane is the BEST tool for the job, but as many posts above state, it's not always the first tool of choice. Hand planes have their place, and any well equipped shop with have several in different lengths, widths, and even some specialty planes like a router plane or scraper plane, as I have. I wounld not give any of them up, nor would I give up any of my joineters or thickness planers. :smile3:

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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