Flattening with a hand plane - query

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MrSafferty

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Hi,

Newbie question!

I recently watched a video where Rob Cosman flattened a wide board using a #6 hand plane. He paused midway though and mentioned his #7 and #8 planes too (which I believe are longer).

My question is around why he might have chosen the #6 over the other, longer, planes?

I'd have thought the longer the better for flattening a board, but perhaps as the #6 it's lighter and therefore easier to use? But if that's the case why have the #7/#8 at all?

I'm really just curious as to what reasoning he might have had so I can learn from it.

thanks

Edit: I realise that this should probaby have been posted to the hand tool section - but I can't work out how to delete this thread!
 

Sgian Dubh

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Well, a no 6, being shorter is a bit more likely to follow rises and falls in a board's surface, and once you've found the high spots you can concentrate on lowering those first without having to take a lot of material off to get the board 'flat enough'. A no 6 or no 5 plane is, as you say, lighter than longer planes, and in my experience it's seldom the case that a particularly wide board needs to be perfectly flat, merely flat enough for whatever purpose it's being flattened for, e.g., a table top doesn't need to be perfect, but it needs to be flat enough that it can be restrained by whatever is holding it in that state, e.g., bearers, table rails, and so on. Carcase parts, such as cabinet sides are held in their right shape (flat) by joints at their corners, and frequently by other intermediate joinery such as drawer carrying framing incorporating rails, runners and kickers.

Typically, even if you are able to get a board perfectly flat, if you leave it for a while, an hour even, to a day or two later, or longer, there will have been at least some small movement in the wood caused by a change in MC, and/or a small release of stress that your perfection will no longer be quite perfect anyway, so best to be aware of that and have strategies in place to cope with a material that is always moving at least a little

Longer planes such as a no 7 or no 8 really come into their own for prepping board edges ready for edge joints to make wider panels, especially if they are long panels, say, 1800 mm or more in length. True, this job can be done with shorter planes too, such as a no 5 or no 6, but it perhaps requires a bit more skill and attention to detail, and a no 7 or no 8 plane can be used to flatten long wide boards, a task I have done quite a number of times over the years with my no 7, but on the whole if I'm doing handwork, something I used to do a lot of forty plus years ago, I prefer to flatten wide and long boards, or levelling off glued up panels with my shorter no 5 plane - it's just easier and lighter to use, therefore less tiring, and tends to cope with things like cupping, bow and winding satisfactorily enough for me.

However, in the work I do nowadays, it's the surface planer and thicknesser I turn to for maybe 95% of all my board flattening, edging and thicknessing, ha, ha. Slainte.
 

maznaz

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The longer the plane, the less it follows the rise and fall of the wood. So a longer plane needs stuff to be relatively flatter before it's really effective. When you're flattening a board you need to reduce high spots before you really get to plane the entire thing level. You also need a large enough board to make good use of the size of the plane for reference as well.

Plane selection is ultimately based on what's the most comfortable tool for you to use to achieve the part of the process you're working on at that point.
 

billw

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It takes time to figure things out with planes - my process is now to check the board with winding sticks, deal with any problems they might uncover, then use straightedges and try squares to find high points, and get rid of those with a No3. After I think I'm pretty much there I go back to the No5 and see whether it's pulling off a constant shaving over the length. If a No5 can cope, it's flat enough, as I don't work with large pieces.
 

Jackbequick

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The low angle (often a block plane)plane can be very useful...even skew plane when you have work best cut in a circular motion, which is one way of reducing a hump to the point your no 5 or longer works well. It's not (necessarily) just 'grab a 5 or 6' and go for it...
 

Jackbequick

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Thanks Mike. Gets exercise too as you bob down to check the leveling. It's one time when exaggeration actually does help.
 

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