New to woodwork: help planing! - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 04-06-2020, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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New to woodwork: help planing!

Hi folks

I'm new to woodwork (and to the forum) with hand tools and my wife and I have together (actually mostly her!) just built the english workbench from Richard Macguire's video series which I really enjoyed. The bench is made from pine.

We are at the smoothing stage with the plane and are having problems. We bought a 1930s 5 1/2 Stanley bailey plane on ebay and sharpened the blade as instructed on many youtube videos. The blade has quite a camber on it. Didn't get quite as nice a burr as on many videos instead the edge was sort of "hairy" with lots of small pieces that were removed at the final stage.

Anyway, the problem we're getting can be seen in the images I've attached. Any ideas what I need to do to stop this happening and get a really nice finish?


James
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post #2 of 15 Old 04-06-2020, 05:42 PM
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welcome aboard, James.
this is an open forum with all levels of skills and talents.
please feel free to join in the conversations that you find interesting
and ask questions to expand your skill levels and share what you know.
if you would like to know more about something, you can start a new thread.
we like to see photos of projects to share with others.
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hope you enjoy your stay.

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post #3 of 15 Old 04-06-2020, 06:04 PM
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James, From the first photo (just under what appears to be a nail), it looks like tear out… caused by planning in the wrong direction. When using a hand plane is like petting a cat's fur. when you pet the fur in one direction... the fur lays down, pet in the other direction the fur stands up. You need to plane in the direction of the rising grain of the wood fibers to prevent tear out. Once you have planed the lumber to nearly flat, lessen the depth of the iron... which will allow the plane to skip planning... by that I mean the plane will ride on the tips of the waves in the wood removing only the tops of those waves. While removing those small whisps/shavings, try to feel the feedback the plane gives you as to whether you are planning in the direction of the rising grain. When you plane in the wrong direction... you get tearout because the fibers bend upward and get torn out before being sheared. You have not told us how you are sharpening the iron. I recommend "Paul Sellers" methods which he has on youtube. Sharpen often and to the finest edge you can get. Richard Macguire has some great woodworking tips and makes some of the best benches available for hand work.
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post #4 of 15 Old 04-06-2020, 07:36 PM
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Welcome to the forum, James!

Like Gary said, make certain you're planing with the grain. It's sometimes difficult to tell but in general it will look like this -

New to woodwork: help planing!-reading-wood-grain_5f00_61.jpg

It's easy to see in this Oak example but also make certain your plane is as sharp as possible. Do a search for 'scary sharp' and that's what you're shooting for. The softer the wood - Pine - the sharper you'll need your tools.

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post #5 of 15 Old 04-07-2020, 03:47 AM
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It looks like you have built a nice bench in spite of the minor planing problems.As has been said its a matter of grain direction and its a bit like stroking a cat's fur the wrong way-the cat doesn't like it when you do that.Wood doesn't always have infallible clues about which is the right way and it sometimes happens that across a board there will be changes of direction.With experience you will be able to tell when this is happening.Sharpness helps a lot and fine shavings minimise the tearing.


One other thing,and this may cause argument,it makes me shudder when I see planes standing upright on a surface.You are actually standing them on the cutting edge you worked hard to sharpen.Either lay them on their side or have a thin piece of wood under the toe of the plane to keep the cutting edge off the surface.
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post #6 of 15 Old 04-07-2020, 08:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a_good_brew View Post
Didn't get quite as nice a burr as on many videos instead the edge was sort of "hairy" with lots of small pieces that were removed at the final stage.
This part confuses me, is this 'burr' youre referring to, and the lots of small pieces, on the edge of the plane iron or on the wood youre planing?
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post #7 of 15 Old 04-07-2020, 09:06 AM
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Yep, I'm confused as well.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by a_good_brew View Post
Hi folks

I'm new to woodwork (and to the forum) with hand tools and my wife and I have together (actually mostly her!) just built the english workbench from Richard Macguire's video series which I really enjoyed. The bench is made from pine.

We are at the smoothing stage with the plane and are having problems. We bought a 1930s 5 1/2 Stanley bailey plane on ebay and sharpened the blade as instructed on many youtube videos. The blade has quite a camber on it. Didn't get quite as nice a burr as on many videos instead the edge was sort of "hairy" with lots of small pieces that were removed at the final stage.

Anyway, the problem we're getting can be seen in the images I've attached. Any ideas what I need to do to stop this happening and get a really nice finish?
James
Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
This part confuses me, is this 'burr' youre referring to, and the lots of small pieces, on the edge of the plane iron or on the wood youre planing?

OK, it is a smoothing plane with the camber used for roughing?




OR .....

Is it a scraper plane with a straight blade and a burr used to create miniscule shavings for finishing?

Post photos of your plane and the blade.



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)

Last edited by woodnthings; 04-07-2020 at 09:11 AM.
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post #8 of 15 Old 04-07-2020, 10:35 AM
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Tear out can also occur in other ways besides planing wrong way. Because wood is not consistent, and there are variation in species, grain typically tends to swirl around knots, inclusions, and other imperfections. Figured wood is the most notorious. Then again, it can just mysteriously happen. I did notice one of the pics there is a small knot you can see the grain swirl.

Some ways to avoid issues:

1. When gluing up panels, orient all the boards with same grain direction.
2. Extremely sharp iron
3. Cap iron set very close to edge (2mm)
4. Very light shavings (.020" or less)
5. Close up the mouth (IMO not that helpful)

With experience you will be better at reading the grain and anticipate in which case you can elect to skip planing and go to scraping, sanding.

The problem is even with experience, by the time you realize there is tear out, the damage is done. Its very difficult -> near impossible to fix so it can be a quite disheartening event :-(

My approach for your situation is hit with 80 grit sanding get it the best you can and go on. After all its a workbench so not critical.

Your plane set up certainly didn't help. Cambered irons, first of all are intended for roughing (like a scrub plane), second are not easy to sharpen, especially for a newbie.

The plane itself is intended for rough planing, hence 5 1/2's are usually set up with a cambered iron. That said, just about any plane can be a smoother with the right iron/set up. I suggest you buy another blade to set this plane up.

But truthfully, I think a #4 is the better plane for this job. Personally I think Ebay planes are way overpriced BTDT & now I only buy new planes. If I don't like them I can return them.

I highly recommend the Wood River planes sold by Woodcraft. IMO you just can't go wrong with them. Just be aware the iron will need a little work prior to use (back flattening). No big deal, tho. Rob Cosman has a good video on setting one up.

BTW, very nice looking bench!!

Robert
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post #9 of 15 Old 04-07-2020, 12:34 PM
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I used hand planes - right up until I bought a corded power planer about a decade ago. I will never again use a hand plane if its possible to use a power planer (I am 68 yrs old as I write this).

(my folks had zero power tools until we bought a power drill when I was a teenager; my dad had used hand tools all his life, despite having polio in his left arm)

Retired engineer-bureaucrat in Oakland, CA. Been working with wood since the 1960's.
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post #10 of 15 Old 04-08-2020, 09:56 AM
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James, Watch these three videos. I am sure these will help anyone, when using a hand plane. He has some great examples with solutions. Worth absorbing... even for a seasoned woodworker.



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post #11 of 15 Old 04-11-2020, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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Wow - thanks everyone there is tonnes of great advice here.


I've been slow to reply - things are busy here at the moment: my wife & I trying to work my job and look after two kids so getting to the workbench is something I only manage one evening in 4 or 5.


After your advice I ordered a new blade for the plane and sharpened it as advised by Paul Sellers. It took a while but I'm now getting much finer and better shavings, and the whole process feels very different and much more satisfying. I paid much more attention to the direction I was planing and didn't get any more tearout, and have quite a nice surface (not fixed the problem completely but much better). Thanks for the Matt Eastlea videos too - I enjoyed them.


I also bought a Stanley 4 1/2 on ebay buy it now for £25 - seemed like a bargain - and I have used the brand new blade in the 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 and it's interesting to compare the difference.



I've got quite a bit more work to do but I'm not making things worse any more and it's fun!


I'll send a pic when I get time!
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post #12 of 15 Old 04-12-2020, 09:27 AM
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a-good brew, Glad to see some people will apply good advise!

Look up "Paul Sellers"...rag in a can... it also helps.

Gary

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post #13 of 15 Old 04-19-2020, 08:51 AM Thread Starter
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Hi again folks


I just wanted to say I've been really enjoying the planing. I've noticed that around the knots in the benchtop, it seems like the grain might change direction: if I plane one way then I get a little bit of tearout on one side of the knot - but if I plane the other way it tears out on the opposite side of the knot! Is this a common thing in pine? I can see if I look really closely at the surface that I think the wood grains are changing direction around some of the knots.
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post #14 of 15 Old 04-19-2020, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a_good_brew View Post
Hi again folks


I just wanted to say I've been really enjoying the planing. I've noticed that around the knots in the benchtop, it seems like the grain might change direction: if I plane one way then I get a little bit of tearout on one side of the knot - but if I plane the other way it tears out on the opposite side of the knot! Is this a common thing in pine? I can see if I look really closely at the surface that I think the wood grains are changing direction around some of the knots.
Yes this is common for any wood, not just pine. The fibrous strands of wood grain are changing direction at knots in order to lend support to the branch. The grain of the board around a knot is basically end grain, and can be usually dealt with by using a card scraper with less tear out. A #80 cabinet scraper is a valuable tool here.

Gary

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post #15 of 15 Old 04-19-2020, 10:09 AM
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New to woodwork: help planing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by a_good_brew View Post
Hi again folks


I just wanted to say I've been really enjoying the planing. I've noticed that around the knots in the benchtop, it seems like the grain might change direction: if I plane one way then I get a little bit of tearout on one side of the knot - but if I plane the other way it tears out on the opposite side of the knot! Is this a common thing in pine? I can see if I look really closely at the surface that I think the wood grains are changing direction around some of the knots.

Additional information you might find interesting:

The way difficult grain is dealt with is by planing with a blade at a higher angle. A scraping plane is one of those options. Another approach has been to change the angle of the frog, which determines the the cutting angle of the blade on your traditional bench plane.

For the frog, The “common pitch” is 45 degrees, “York pitch” 50 degrees, “middle pitch” 55 degrees, and “half pitch” is 60 degrees. Scraper planes cut at an angle between 60 and 90 degrees.

As far as I know, current manufacturers of bench planes that offer frogs in an angle other than 45 degree is Lie-Nielsen and Veritas.

Last edited by Terry Q; 04-19-2020 at 10:12 AM.
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