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Hand planing multiple components to same width.

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AESamuel

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Hi there, I wasn't sure whether to put this in the hand tool forum or not so stuck in in "general"...

I have a project where I need three components to all be exactly the same width (not thickness) and am wondering if anyone has any tips or techniques that would help me achieve this?
Normally I would plane a face side, face edge and then use a marking gauge for the opposite side and work down to the line. Inevitably though, in trying to balance squareness and straightness of the second edge while keeping things parallel, I end up slightly out. This isn't normally an issue for me because I try to design my projects to ensure it doesn't matter but in this one it does.

It doesn't actually matter what width the pieces are, just that they are exactly the same. So is there anything I can do to aid me in this, or should I just try to take things really slow?
Thanks!
 

AndyT

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Make four and pick out the best three?

If they are really small, a tight groove for width and another for the thickness, ploughed into a bigger block can be useful. Plane down to the surrounding surface.

If they are normal sort of furniture components, it's really just about building up your skill level by practice. It's one thing to plane a piece straight and square, but to do that with the final stroke leaving it bang on the required dimension is quite a step up.
 

TheTiddles

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This is exactly what a shooting board is for, put a fence on it and set it to the width you want with a gauge to ensure it’s parallel then off you go, set it up right and it takes all the skill out and puts all the precision in.
Aidan
 

woodbloke66

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TheTiddles":2utjg09w said:
This is exactly what a shooting board is for, put a fence on it and set it to the width you want with a gauge to ensure it’s parallel then off you go, set it up right and it takes all the skill out and puts all the precision in.
Aidan
That's how I would do it as well, but it does of course depend on the size of the shooting board and if each piece is say, 1.5m x 350cm then the shooting board is probably too small, but for smaller stuff Aidan's suggestion is one I'd adopt - Rob
 

sunnybob

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In the full spirit of "other methods are available" :shock:
a router table or table saw with a coping sled is capable of reproducing sizes so close that they cant be measured by woodworking standards. 8) 8)
 

woodbloke66

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sunnybob":mby0ssya said:
In the full spirit of "other methods are available" :shock:
a router table or table saw with a coping sled is capable of reproducing sizes so close that they cant be measured by woodworking standards. 8) 8)
Agreed SB but the OP specifically said 'by hand'. I don't use a table saw but I usually machine my mdf (when I use it) by passing it back the wrong way between the cutter and the fence which produces a parallel cut, assuming that you have one straight datum to start with - Rob
 

sunnybob

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going the wrong way is (according to many experts) the most dangerous thing you can do on a router table or table saw. :shock: :shock: :shock:

I learnt what happens when you do that. A hardwood strip a foot long went thirty feet out into the drive :shock: :roll:
But I was at least smart enough to not be standing in its line of travel =D> =D>

Yeah, I know he asked for hand tools, I'm just playing devils advocate :lol: :lol: 8)
 

profchris

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It would help to know at least dimensions.

If they are small pieces, clamp together (as already suggested) and plane. For the 2mm thick strips I make instruments from, I can probable do this so they vary by well under 0.2mm.

If the pieces are much wider, that's a different challenge.
 

woodbloke66

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sunnybob":1754191k said:
going the wrong way is (according to many experts) the most dangerous thing you can do on a router table or table saw. :shock: :shock: :shock:
Think about what I said SB; the timber is going the wrong way but it's between the fence and the cutter and because of the direction of rotation it's still cutting into the wood, not back cutting. If it was back cutting, I agree, it would be very dangerous. That said, you still need to be very careful as you've got an unguarded cutter spinning merrily away in the middle of the router table with the fence some distance away - Rob
 

sunnybob

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I know your theory, but as said, its not me, but many other far more experienced people who think its very dangerous. I did a lot of asking questions and watching videos when I first got my router table.
 

heimlaga

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In Norway they traditionally use a contraption called "skottbenk" for this and for shooting straight edges. I have thought about making one but never gotten around to it. Anyway it looks like a very clever idea.
 

MikeG.

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sunnybob":1t465jqj said:
I know your theory, but as said, its not me, but many other far more experienced people who think its very dangerous. I did a lot of asking questions and watching videos when I first got my router table.
The only danger is that you are standing at the opposite end of the table to normal, with an unguarded cutter in the middle of the table. This means that your pusher and the arm holding it passes over the line of the cutter rather more than is comfortable. Other than that, the work moves in the right direction relative to the cutter, and everything behaves normally (although extraction can't happen). I did precisely this to make all of the treads the same width on my staircase build, but didn't show it in my WIP because I know that it is controversial, and because it isn't something I would want a beginner to copy.
 

Andy Kev.

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If I've visualised correctly what you describe, the critical thing is surely to get the reference face and edge dead square to each other. You could plane the second face more or less flat and square (you'll want to get it bang on at some stage) but the width will be determined by marking both faces and both ends from the reference edge. Then it has to be a matter of clamping it in the vice and sneaking up on the line, using the curve/skew of the blade to iron out any deviations.

I think that I would concentrate on getting the first piece absolutely perfect and then mark and try all the other pieces against it. And once you've got the width of the first piece set on your gauge, keep that setting for marking the subsequent ones. As you finish each piece, clamp it or stand it next to the first one to check they are the same. Once they're all done, clamp together for a final check and any subsequent fine trims with the plane.
 

Sheffield Tony

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You should be able - with practice, frequent checking of progress, use of a cambered iron etc - be able to hand plane to 0.1-0.2mm of the desired size. Given that wood isn't terribly dimensionally stable, this should be well good enough.

Now I'm cutting joints in some beech I carefully planed to 80mm wide. Except it is currently 78mm wide. No, I didn't get carried away, it has shrunk that much. So not much point worrying about a few tenths.
 

MikeG.

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Wow, was your wood dry enough before you started working it, Tony? 2mm in 80 is too much movement for seasoned beech.

The point isn't to have pieces which are exact to a specific dimension, but to have pieces which are the same as each other. Honestly, days of discussion when all you do is mark one up. stack them together on a flat surface, clamp them, put them in a vice, and plane them all at once.
 

woodbloke66

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MikeG.":2re049eb said:
The only danger is that you are standing at the opposite end of the table to normal, with an unguarded cutter in the middle of the table. This means that your pusher and the arm holding it passes over the line of the cutter rather more than is comfortable. Other than that, the work moves in the right direction relative to the cutter, and everything behaves normally (although extraction can't happen). I did precisely this to make all of the treads the same width on my staircase build, but didn't show it in my WIP because I know that it is controversial, and because it isn't something I would want a beginner to copy.
Precisely; it's not a 'standard' router table procedure and one that needs to be approached with some care, bearing in mind that there's a router cutter spinning away in the middle of the table. I've converted an existing push block for the p/t (which I never use) by attaching a largish overhanging piece on the rhs so that in use it covers the router cutter as the job is pushed through - Rob
 

Harbo

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If they are narrow pieces I pack them tight on a sledge and put them through my P/T

Rod
 

Sheffield Tony

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MikeG.":o0tyu3hf said:
Wow, was your wood dry enough before you started working it, Tony? 2mm in 80 is too much movement for seasoned beech.
I bought it well over a year ago as supposedly rough sawn 1" boards of steamed beech. Wierd stuff, looks like it has been belt sanded, slightly fluffy finish, horrible to plane. I doubt I'll go back to that timber merchant - he took time to explain to me how he doesn't like beech because it moves too much (he was right there !) and is "boring wood". I think it was quite probably fairly damp in my garage, then brought into a much drier workshop. Fortunately, as in this topic, the exact size matters less than the pieces all matching !
 
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