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Discussion Starter #1
I am currently nearing the end of a build for a walnut and maple chest of drawers.

I recognized I would need a block plane to clean up my dovetails, and fell down the plane rabbit hole.

I now own my first planes:
-a low angle block plane
-#4 Stanley
-#5 Stanley

I tuned up the #4, and have had a great first experience with a smoothing plane. It takes nice long shavings and leaves a fairly glassy surface.

I am considering abandoning my original plan to sand everything, and moving to using the smoothing plane, follow by a 220 hand sand. The internet seems to think this is a fine approach, although it looks like lots of argument between sanding and planing.

One problem: This is my first hand plane and my technique definitely isn't great.I am getting a little tear out on tough grain spots that I know I can clean up with sand paper, but I am also getting little blade marks (the width of the blade) where the blade sticks in a bit, or where I get stopped on my full length stroke.

These little marks don't really come out with 220 sandpaper.

Two questions:

-What am I doing wrong? Any tips?

-Should I abandon my planing for sandpaper for the current project, and work on my planing technique for the future?
-If not, what should I do remove/reduce the little plane marks.

Note: These are not long streaks from catching corners, when I sharpened the plane I know the corners down.
 

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where's my table saw?
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they are different physically

The sand paper "abrades" the wood fibers... rubs them off. The plane shears them off leaving a cleaner surface free from scratches.
There is a 3rd technique which you could apply, the use of a card scraper. It is also a shearing technique, but will result in a beautiful smooth surface.

Sanding requires many steps from coarse to fine, to super fine if using a ROS. It's different when straight line sanding by hand, a bit more labor, but a different result. There you are, 4 different techniques. Pick your poison. :smile3:

Sharpening a card scraper:
 

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Well I have determined two things:

1: After my panels were glued up, which were then cut into the drawer faces, I did a rough 80 grit sand to clean up the glue lines and see my grain a bit better so I could select drawer order. This quick sand created valleys where I sanded more along the glue lines. Given this, the boards are not flat enough to effectively use a smoothing plane. I would need to flatten these better (don't have a jointing plane) before moving to a planing technique.

2: Either I am not that good at planing or my planes are well enough set up yet. I keep getting stopped in tough grain (especially on the maple) which leaves little chop marks. I have to go at these chop marks with 100 grit hard to get them out. If I am having to use 100 after planing the planing isn't really doing its job currently.

Looks like I will sand this one, and work on my pane setup and planing technique for the next project.
 

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Peter,
Your question is an excellent question. The prep step before the finish is one of the most important steps to a project. The project can easily be damaged after some assembly with either the hand plane or a belt sander in inexperienced hands. One of the things we all want to do is go fast. This is not the step to rush. Whether you use your plane or your belt-sander, take your time. If your plane is set correctly, you will need less sanding. Even when hand sanding, use a flat sanding pad to prevent dips. Start with at least a 100 grit and work through the grits 150, 180, 220. Starting with 220 will only slow your process.
I usually clean-up glue lines with a scraper. If a glue line is standing proud after glue-up, I use the hand plane. Once everything is flat, you start your sanding. An orbital sander is easier to control over a belt-sander. I usually complete a sanding job by hand using a sanding block. Your final finish is dependent on this prep step.
Good luck.
 

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where's my table saw?
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not a worrd about the card scraper?

Well I have determined two things:

1: After my panels were glued up, which were then cut into the drawer faces, I did a rough 80 grit sand to clean up the glue lines and see my grain a bit better so I could select drawer order. This quick sand created valleys where I sanded more along the glue lines. Given this, the boards are not flat enough to effectively use a smoothing plane. I would need to flatten these better (don't have a jointing plane) before moving to a planing technique.

2: Either I am not that good at planing or my planes are well enough set up yet. I keep getting stopped in tough grain (especially on the maple) which leaves little chop marks. I have to go at these chop marks with 100 grit hard to get them out. If I am having to use 100 after planing the planing isn't really doing its job currently.

Looks like I will sand this one, and work on my pane setup and planing technique for the next project.

It's probably too late for you to use a card scraper, only you can determine that by trial. They are cheap enough to warrant a purchase.

If you really want a nice flat surface free from tear out, locate a cabinet shop with a wide belt sand who will run your panel through for a nominal fee. A phone call with explanation usually works just fine, depending on their workload. My neighbor has a 40" wide belt he uses to sand doors which he builds.

I've used his sander for doors and table tops that I've made. They turn out beautiful. A hand held belt sander has a long learning curve, so don't feel too bad.
 

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Card scraper is on my list.

I know I would use a card scraper to fix the slight tearout around difficult grain patterns, but didn't think it was going to fix my problem at hand, specifically the chop marks from my plane, and the panels not being flat enough to start with.

My thought is for this project, given that I am struggling to learn the new planing skill, that adding the new card scraping skill probably wasn't as good a solution as sanding, which I already know how to do.

I did all of my initial milling at a local community woodshop, where they also have a 24" belt sander. What I didn't do was bring my panels back after glue up to give them a fresh surface, and my panel glue ups were not perfect. I may do this next time, which would give me a better surface from which to do my prep work. I definitely paid for this when cutting my dovetails.

Over the last few days I have prepped and glued up everything.

I ended up using ROS at 100, 150, 220, followed by a thorough hand sand with the grain at 220.

Next I will have to start a smaller project and practice my hand plane (and card scraper) skills. As always, I am already over budget and behind schedule on this project, so I look forward to finishing. (the project, not actual finishing, which is terrible)
 

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You mention "chop" marks from your hand plane. IMO, this is caused from one of the following:
In order of "most probable".
1. Blade set too deep
2. Blade less than razor sharp.
3. Insufficient pressure applied to the plane (allowing it to rise and skip)

When you have your plane sharp and set correctly the chips should should curl out consistently. The chips should be so thin as to almost be transparent. Turn the plane at an angle of about 30 degrees to the grain of the wood. You're still pushing the plane with the grain of the wood, but your holding the plane at a slight angle. You might find this helps.
 

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I seen a video where a guy took a old hand saw that was no good and cut it up into 2 inch by 4 inches (or 3 x 5) pieces and made scrapers. He said the saw steel is the same as boughten scrapers and much cheaper. You can get 5-10 scrapers out of one saw.
 
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