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Michael G
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm new to woodworking and have decided to stick to mostly hand tools for various reasons. I'm building a relatively large 30" x 24" mitered picture frame and have struggled quite a bit with planing. Since I'm new to the process, I'm hesitant to keep spending on more tools until I've paid my dues a little bit (but believe me, I've already spent PLENTY on all kinds of gear). So for this first project, I'm trying to build the frame with what I already have, which means my only plane is an old Stanley 110 block plane. I've spent a fair amount of time sharpening the blade on a 400/1000 grit diamond stone, flattening the back, etc. When I do the paper test, it seems plenty sharp. But I've really struggled with being able to get a clean cut. It catches on the wood a lot and I'm finding it really tough to just cut a ribbon off the length of an edge without it getting jammed. I'm especially struggling with using it on a shooting board to clean up the mitered edges. It just can't seem to help getting jammed as I try to plane across the edge of the board. And needless to say, it's been tough to joint the edges square with the block plane, but I'm well aware that it's not the right tool for that particular job.

So I guess I'm just wondering if my problem is just that I still haven't figured out how to get the plane blade sharp enough, or is it that I'm crazy to try to do this project with just a small block plane. For those of you with a little more experience, do you think that taking on this project with a block plane would be doable? Or can I blame the tool and know that once I get a decent No. 5, my life will be a lot easier?

Thanks very much for any insight.
 

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1000 grit stone is probably not getting you where you need to be. A #110 is also going to be tough to learn with. A #110 block plane will work, but it's not what I would call the most user friendly. My statements are not meant to discourage, but encourage you not to give up. You make this work it's all downhill.

If you don't want to buy a finer stone, pick up some sandpaper up to 3000 grit. I think you will see a big difference.
 

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Village Idiot
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A dull blade will still leave a convincingly clean cut through paper. Really, the paper test is as dependent on how you hold the paper as it is the sharpness of the blade. Better test is to try using the bare blade to cut through end grain. If the resulting surface is smooth and shiney, blades sharp, if its torn, ragged or the blade doesnt cut, blades not sharp

Bevel angle is also as important as sharpness for a plane iron. If your bevel is too steep, the heel of the bevel will hit the wood surface before the edge, too shallow a bevel will be sharp wont stay sharp

Stropping the wire edge off, also important. As you sharpen steel, it rolls a tiny burr over the edge, if you dont get rid of that burr the edge might seem sharp, but will quickly dull with use
 

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Can you take a picture of your plane, and of the wood that your trying to plane, after you try planing it, so we can see what it looks like.

I'm extremely new to woodworking myself, and for me sharpening the blade was easier than actually tuning up the planes. You mentioned flattening the back of the blade, did you flatten the sole of the plane? Is the blade out to far?
 

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Ancient Termite
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If the plane is catching there are two possible solutions. Plane from the opposite direction and take a finer (less thick) cut. And by all means get some finer stones. The finer the final pass in sharpening, the better the plane will work. I will take mine down to either 6,000 or 8,000 grit.
 

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where's my table saw?
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A low angle plane, like 12 degrees or so, is typically used for end grain. The angle of attack is also important. Holding the plane blade at 90 degrees to the feed direction exposes the entire length of the blade and therefore makes it more difficult to push. That straight on attack angle also makes the cutting action less of a shearing cut. By holding the plane body and blade at a "skewed angle" the length of the blade doing the cutting is a bit less AND the cut is a shearing type, which is easier to push than a straight on 90 degree angle.

 
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Two comments;first follow the advice to closely inspect the grain-just as a cat doesn't like having it's fur stroked in the wrong direction wood gets a bit awkward if you try that sort of thing.Sharpness counts for a lot but still won't allow a small light plane to remove substantial shavings.You should almost be able to see through the shavings and it would be worth trying to remove the thinnest possible shavings.With more experience you will be better able to judge what the possibilities of each species may be.Just occasionally there will be a really awkward piece with gnarly grain that might look great finished or might be better used in the woodstove......
 

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Just to answer the original question. Yes. ALWAYS blame the tools. NEVER claim fault in public !!!


In private: Never blame the tool. Although it might be something wrong with the tool, it is the user who is always the source of the fault. Figure out what you're doing wrong and fix it. That's how you get better.
 

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Michael G
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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the replies everyone. This has all been super helpful. I did a couple of things different today: I picked up some 3000 grit sandpaper and used that as a third sharpening stage. I also used my strop with some extra fine compound to polish the blade. I think that helped a little bit. But the thing that made the biggest difference is that I simply backed off the blade as much as possible so that it's just BARELY beyond the sole and taking a very small slice. This has helped a lot and I'm able to use the shooting board successfully and with a real nice, smooth finish, though it's really hard to get the blade in this position on the block plane....maybe it's easier on a larger plane which has various means for adjusting the blade position more accurately. The plane still catches sometimes, but I don't expect to get things working perfectly at this point. I'm just happy that I've been able to clean up my mitre cuts a bit more.

This has been really helpful and I'm going to digest the rest of these responses a little more to see what else I can improve. This forum is one of the more helpful places I've found on the internet, which is saying quite a bit.
 

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I find the block plane nearly useless, except for very narrow pieces. I think it's mostly the lack of mass to keep it moving on stock of much more than 1/2 width. Granted, sharpening your iron to something like 8000 or 16000 grit will really help, as well as very thin shavings, like you found.

I rhinkmif you find a good no. 4 or 5 and tune it up well, you'll see why they're so popular. I really only use a block plane for easing sharp edges and for really narrow stuff, like bringing the edge of a narrow piece flush with something else (for instance, a fretboard on a guitar neck).

For shooting end grain, you really need something with good mass. I use a no. 6, but that's just cause it's what I have and works well. A good no. 5 will do fine.

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When using a shooting board... mass is your friend. As far as sharpening I agree with RParker. I have both a low angle and a standard block plane... I find them pretty much useless for a shooting board... Unless I am shooting/planing very small parts like 1/2" x 1/2" trim pieces. I wax the friction points on the plane and the shooting board also which helps. In any case the mass of a larger bench plane will help you, as long as it's sharp.
 

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mike44
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203 Posts
Block planes have the bevel up, smoothers and most other planes the bevel is down. The reason your plane digs in is the bevel up . You need a smoothing plane and if you have trouble getting a square edge , then add a fence to one side of the plane. Keep the fence against the board and the edge will plane square. I built two kitchens using an old Stanley smoother with a wooden fence screwed thru tapped holes in the side. This won't harm the plane and is easy to remove for planing other than edges. Your plane iron is plenty sharp, I used to sharpen and hone irons and chisels to 8000 grit.
I have since found that for me it is overkill. I hone with a diamond grit stone and strop with a leather belt glued to a 1x2.
mike
 

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Keep at it Michael, I was in the same position just a few years ago with hand planes until I found a few sizes in good shape at flea markets and learned to sharpen them.
Kept working at it and testing on scrap wood. Now it is refreshing to run that plane across a piece of cedar, maple or whatever and see the beauty of the wood come out.
I use my block plane pretty much for smoothing over edges.
Good Luck and stay with it
 

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Egg Spurt
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You can find perfectly usable #4s, 5s and even 6s on ebay for next to nothing. I have a few great old 4s and a great Miller Falls # something I bought for about $25-30 each. They all needed some help except for the MFs..it was in great shape out of the box..
You could go blow a small fortune for the high buck planes, but even they'll be about like a 75 year old Stanley eventually..
 

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You can find perfectly usable #4s, 5s and even 6s on ebay for next to nothing. I have a few great old 4s and a great Miller Falls # something I bought for about $25-30 each. They all needed some help except for the MFs..it was in great shape out of the box..
You could go blow a small fortune for the high buck planes, but even they'll be about like a 75 year old Stanley eventually..
Just for what it's worth, "next to nothing" has changed over the past couple of years. You can sure find plenty of Stanleys, Millers Falls, etc. and some are in the $30 range for a no. 4 or 5, but they'll be in rough shape. I spent the last year combing Ebay for those, and nothing in decent shape went for less than $50. I think the word has gotten put about what a "bargain" old tools can be, and they're not quite the bargain they used to be.

Now, having said that, they are still worth it. You still have to pay around $ 150-200 to get a new no. 4 that's of comparable quality to a mid-grade vintage Stanley. So, even at $50-60 you're way ahead. I'm just sharing my experience, having bought a Stanley no. 4, a Keen Kutter no. 5, a couple Disston saws, a Stanley 45 combination plane, and some other odds and ends this year.

Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk
 

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Be Nice
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I'm new to woodworking and have decided to stick to mostly hand tools for various reasons. I'm building a relatively large 30" x 24" mitered picture frame and have struggled quite a bit with planing. Since I'm new to the process, I'm hesitant to keep spending on more tools until I've paid my dues a little bit (but believe me, I've already spent PLENTY on all kinds of gear). So for this first project, I'm trying to build the frame with what I already have, which means my only plane is an old Stanley 110 block plane. I've spent a fair amount of time sharpening the blade on a 400/1000 grit diamond stone, flattening the back, etc. When I do the paper test, it seems plenty sharp. But I've really struggled with being able to get a clean cut. It catches on the wood a lot and I'm finding it really tough to just cut a ribbon off the length of an edge without it getting jammed. I'm especially struggling with using it on a shooting board to clean up the mitered edges. It just can't seem to help getting jammed as I try to plane across the edge of the board. And needless to say, it's been tough to joint the edges square with the block plane, but I'm well aware that it's not the right tool for that particular job.

So I guess I'm just wondering if my problem is just that I still haven't figured out how to get the plane blade sharp enough, or is it that I'm crazy to try to do this project with just a small block plane. For those of you with a little more experience, do you think that taking on this project with a block plane would be doable? Or can I blame the tool and know that once I get a decent No. 5, my life will be a lot easier?

Thanks very much for any insight.
The 400/1000 grit diamond stone is fine. Leather strop after the diamond plate will give you a great edge. Number one issue with new users of planes is that they try to take off too much in a single pass. Just barely shave a bit off at a time. Paul Sellers has great videos for servicing and using planes.
 
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Block planes have the bevel up, smoothers and most other planes the bevel is down. The reason your plane digs in is the bevel up . You need a smoothing plane and if you have trouble getting a square edge , then add a fence to one side of the plane. Keep the fence against the board and the edge will plane square. I built two kitchens using an old Stanley smoother with a wooden fence screwed thru tapped holes in the side. This won't harm the plane and is easy to remove for planing other than edges. Your plane iron is plenty sharp, I used to sharpen and hone irons and chisels to 8000 grit.
I have since found that for me it is overkill. I hone with a diamond grit stone and strop with a leather belt glued to a 1x2.
mike
I would be very careful about tapping holes in plane bodies.It wouldn't be hard to create a stress raiser that caused the propagation of a crack .Whichever way the bevel faces the plane shouldn't dig in to any depth greater than the distance the iron protrudes by.Sharpness is so important.
 

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Michael G
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
The 400/1000 grit diamond stone is fine. Leather strop after the diamond plate will give you a great edge. Number one issue with new users of planes is that they try to take off too much in a single pass. Just barely shave a bit off at a time. Paul Sellers has great videos for servicing and using planes.
I agree with this...my biggest problem is that I didn't realize just how little the blade should be protruding from the plane. I had it sticking out too far and was trying to take off too much. In my defense, it's really hard to get it just right on my block plane (old Stanley 110), which doesn't have any kind of depth adjustment...you just have to scoot it into position ever so carefully. There's probably some technique for setting the depth on those planes that I'm not aware of. With that said, I've since purchased an old Stanley #5 and needless to say, it's much easier to use in every way, and it's much easier to set the blade for a thin shaving. It still catches or doesn't cut as nice I'd like it to all the time, but I'm still learning.
 

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Michael G
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Discussion Starter #19
Just for what it's worth, "next to nothing" has changed over the past couple of years. You can sure find plenty of Stanleys, Millers Falls, etc. and some are in the $30 range for a no. 4 or 5, but they'll be in rough shape. I spent the last year combing Ebay for those, and nothing in decent shape went for less than $50. I think the word has gotten put about what a "bargain" old tools can be, and they're not quite the bargain they used to be.

Now, having said that, they are still worth it. You still have to pay around $ 150-200 to get a new no. 4 that's of comparable quality to a mid-grade vintage Stanley. So, even at $50-60 you're way ahead. I'm just sharing my experience, having bought a Stanley no. 4, a Keen Kutter no. 5, a couple Disston saws, a Stanley 45 combination plane, and some other odds and ends this year.

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Couldn't agree more. I read all kinds of posts about how you can get a great Stanley for $25 on eBay, but I just don't think that's true anymore. Probably has a lot to do with people stuck at home during covid times. I ended buying an old Stanley #5 in very good condition from a guy on Craigslist for about $65.
 

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Couldn't agree more. I read all kinds of posts about how you can get a great Stanley for $25 on eBay, but I just don't think that's true anymore. Probably has a lot to do with people stuck at home during covid times. I ended buying an old Stanley #5 in very good condition from a guy on Craigslist for about $65.
Yup. I laid $55 for my Keen Kutter no. 5 which needed modest clean up and a new tote - but I got a fantastic extra thick iron that makes it a really good scrub/fireplace. $40 for a Stanley no. 4 from a guy at work. $65 for a Belknap Bluegrass no. 6 a couple years ago. It was my favorite plane til I got my no. 4. On the other hand, I spent $30 on a Craftsman no. 4 that ended up having a completely useless aluminum frog that makes the plane unusable for serious work.

So, I think the money is still better spent on old stuff, but not dirt cheap anymore.

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