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Any tips on planing wenge?

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LuptonM

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I am having a pretty miserable time hand planing some large boards of wenge.

It's not that it doesnt plane nicely but within 3 passes of the hand plane, the blade (A2 steel) looks like it's been planing concrete and is no longer sharp enough to cut.

Would increasing the bevel angle to 30 degrees from 25 make enough difference or am I going to be still having the same issues?


IMG_20211011_143051.jpg
 

Ttrees

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I'd say so, most hone at an angle around 30.
It does look like cement on that board?

Not sure if you're getting tearout or not, seemingly not from what you say?
But if it's not cement nor minerals like silica that is the problem, and tearout is present, getting the cap iron closer will greatly improve things in edge retention.

If it is minerals then look at @D_W 's posts
That should help
Tom
 

isaac3d

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How sure are you that it is Wenge?
It is difficult to see from the image above but the end-grain and side looks very pale. Is that a coating/paint? From the image, only the top surface looks dark. Could it be a different species that has been stained?
 

D_W

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It could be surface dirt. If it's silica in that significant of an amount, you'll be able to see the silica sitting in the pores.

You could skim the top off with a power planer if you have one. If not, increase shaving thickness to the extent you can as the iron will cut longer with a thicker shaving, even if it's getting dented by silica.

That aside, I have a trick, but it involves a buffer. to avoid going to down spending the time explaining it (and leading you to believe you should buy all of the buffer stuff), I would first do the following:
* sharpen the final bevel on the iron (just as a microbevel) to 35 degrees.
* add a 10 degree back bevel, see how it holds up
* if that doesn't satisfy, refresh all and add 20 degrees to the back. At that point, you'll have 55 degrees of total bevel and a plane that's planing at 65 degrees. It won't be very pleasant and you won't be able to take much off at a time.

My buffer trick costs a little of the edge life, but preserves the ability to plane at 45 degrees (so you can take more off with each pass) and keeps the iron from getting dented on the silica.
 

D_W

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(this is a rosewood plane billet planed using "the trick" and a stock iron.
)

This is a rosewood guitar neck without "the trick" applied to the edge - see the silica in the pores. You can blow it out, but take a shaving and there's more in the next layer. The wood planes beautifully and would be a delight were it not for the fast accumulating edge damage.


Sometimes, contamination is so bad that you can't modify geometry and deal with it (in combination with other factors I guess). I've only come across this planing end grain with silica in it in a really hard wood - that's just a bad combination. Carbide circular saws and industrial sanders are good in that case.
 

Jacob

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Are you intending to use it as it is?
If not, saw to size first for whatever you are making, with an allowance for planing, usually about 6mm over finished size but more for longer/wider pieces. It's much easier that way.
If you haven't decided what to do with I wouldn't bother planing it yet. It's a mistake a lot of people make - you'd be surprised!
PS yes to 30º hone. A little and often. This is where freehand honing becomes essential, for speed and convenience. Don't worry too much about one or two nicks as long as rest of the edge is good and sharp
 
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Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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I am having a pretty miserable time hand planing some large boards of wenge.

It's not that it doesnt plane nicely but within 3 passes of the hand plane, the blade (A2 steel) looks like it's been planing concrete and is no longer sharp enough to cut.

Would increasing the bevel angle to 30 degrees from 25 make enough difference or am I going to be still having the same issues?
Increase the bevel to 33 degrees. 25 degrees is far too low to hold up.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

Argus

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How sure are you that it is Wenge?
It is difficult to see from the image above but the end-grain and side looks very pale. Is that a coating/paint? From the image, only the top surface looks dark. Could it be a different species that has been stained?
I agree.The Wenge that I've used in the past has a distinct dark brown/almost-black and stripey grain figure all the way through.
Hard to tell from pictures.
Anyway, if that bit is Wenge, I seem to recall being told that dust and splinters can induce a severe skin-reaction in some folk. Be careful.
 
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TRITON

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This is where the old drum sander comes into it's own. Thickess to about 3 or 4 mm of its finished size then a slow sand to final thickness. Most tear out rarely exceeds 2 mm.
 

LuptonM

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It's definitely wenge. The black brown stripes are present but it's hard to see unplaned.

So the change in bevel angle of the plane blades made a massive difference in actually being able to keep an edge
 

mr edd

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As mentioned in the posts above 25 degrees is way to low to hone an A2 blade. I do mine around 35degrees ish or a little less. Raising the honing angle makes a big difference.

Adding a back bevel to the blade means no tearing with a thin shaving. I could be wrong but I seem to recall David C from this forum reccomending a 20 degree back bevel for very difficult wood. Worked amazingly on some ebony and rosewood I was messing around with but the shavings are more like a scraping kinda thing, and edge life was not outstanding.

Regards

Edd
 

Jacob

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As mentioned in the posts above 25 degrees is way to low to hone an A2 blade. I do mine around 35degrees ish or a little less. Raising the honing angle makes a big difference.

Adding a back bevel to the blade means no tearing with a thin shaving. I could be wrong but I seem to recall David C from this forum reccomending a 20 degree back bevel for very difficult wood. Worked amazingly on some ebony and rosewood I was messing around with but the shavings are more like a scraping kinda thing, and edge life was not outstanding.

Regards

Edd
Nearer you get to scraping the more you might as well scrape - with a Stanley 80, edge touched up very frequently
 

mr edd

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Hi Jacob
I keep meaning to pick up a Stanley 80. One of the few tools I have have not yet tried.
To be fair David C did recommend getting one as well.
I was doing the back bevel plane thing for accurate dimensioning of small parts so it worked well.

Regards Edd

P.s if off looking for Stanley 80 cheers
 

D_W

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As mentioned in the posts above 25 degrees is way to low to hone an A2 blade. I do mine around 35degrees ish or a little less. Raising the honing angle makes a big difference.

Adding a back bevel to the blade means no tearing with a thin shaving. I could be wrong but I seem to recall David C from this forum reccomending a 20 degree back bevel for very difficult wood. Worked amazingly on some ebony and rosewood I was messing around with but the shavings are more like a scraping kinda thing, and edge life was not outstanding.

Regards

Edd
It works, but david recommended it for figured wood as I recall (and it does work for that). I recommended it if no learning is wanted, but it will be physically punishing to plane this piece of wood any significant amount with that method.

It can be planed with a standard plane angle using the cap iron to limit tearout and rounding the very tip of the underside of the bevel with a buffer. Too much and clearance is lost. This is different than rounding the entire bevel (Which would just eliminate clearance and nothing good would happen).
 

Sean33

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I am having a pretty miserable time hand planing some large boards of wenge.

It's not that it doesnt plane nicely but within 3 passes of the hand plane, the blade (A2 steel) looks like it's been planing concrete and is no longer sharp enough to cut.

Would increasing the bevel angle to 30 degrees from 25 make enough difference or am I going to be still having the same issues?


View attachment 119604
For what its worth i would go at least 30 and get the mouth very close, i even invested in a PMV11 blade and ground to 35 with a secondary bevel. Made a table for a client a couple of years ago out of solid Wenge, vowed never to work with the stuff again, beware of the splinters too
 

LuptonM

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Yeah the splinters get everywhere.

I've only got hand tools for joining and flattening but it's turning out ok so far. It's going to be a coffee table

You can see that it's definitely wenge.

Some places the grain is a little tricky but much easier than say cocobolo
IMG_20211015_160506.jpg
 

isaac3d

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Ah yes. That's a much clearer picture. The pale sides are due to sapwood and the endgrain is clearer. Nice wide board. Must have cost an arm and a leg.
 

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