• We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

How Necessary is a Specialised Scrub Plane?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Andy Kev.

Established Member
UKW Supporter
Joined
20 Aug 2013
Messages
1,364
Reaction score
118
Location
Germany
The reason I ask the question in the title is that I use an old No 5 fitted with a heavily curved iron for scrub-type work. I read somewhere that an 8" radius is about right for this and so I cambered accordingly but as time has gone by, I find myself gradually making the curve milder because to have the iron extended to the point where it is all cutting makes the plane more or less unusable and very narrow cuts seem inefficient. It's also rarely the case that I have to take masses of wood off a rough piece. It does do the job though.

Purpose built scrub planes seem to have fairly radically cambered irons but I find myself wondering who would really need one.

Add to that that if you are using e.g. a No 5, you can have a cambered iron and a straight(-ish) iron and the case for a scrub plane starts to look a bit thin.

Any thoughts?
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
6,451
Reaction score
746
Location
PA, US
A scrub plane isn't as useful for rough work as a wooden jack plane. They don't remove material any faster and leave a far worse mess behind. I'm fairly sure Stanley introduced them as a door fitters tool, but even door fitters would've been better if off with a wooden jack.

I think they're easily marketed to power tool users now because the principle of their design " just makes sense ". Unfortunately, just makes sense doesn't always equal "makes more sense than..".
 

Woody2Shoes

Impressive Member
Joined
5 Jan 2015
Messages
1,914
Reaction score
277
Location
Sussex UK
The reason I ask the question in the title is that I use an old No 5 fitted with a heavily curved iron for scrub-type work. I read somewhere that an 8" radius is about right for this and so I cambered accordingly but as time has gone by, I find myself gradually making the curve milder because to have the iron extended to the point where it is all cutting makes the plane more or less unusable and very narrow cuts seem inefficient. It's also rarely the case that I have to take masses of wood off a rough piece. It does do the job though.

Purpose built scrub planes seem to have fairly radically cambered irons but I find myself wondering who would really need one.

Add to that that if you are using e.g. a No 5, you can have a cambered iron and a straight(-ish) iron and the case for a scrub plane starts to look a bit thin.

Any thoughts?
I scrounge a lot of small (and sometimes larger) pieces of timber from nearby - I'm fortunate to live in one of the most wooded areas in Enlgand. I got myself a Veritas scrub plane for roughing out bits of yew/oak/lime/apple/sweet chestnut etc trees that would otherwise become firewood. I usually split a log with my froe and then use the scrub plane (which I've also used when fitting skirting boards/window linings to uneven masonry - the 'other' use) to get the timber ready for the other planes. I could just use my bandsaw and my P/T, but I enjoy using hand tools when I can (less dust/noise and better exercise). I find that the relatively narrow blade (2" I think) which is thick (1/8" from memory) and agressively cambered, goes through the bumpy bits like a knife through butter.

I suspect that a modified no 4 or 5 would not benefit from the thick blade and would therefore not be as easy to use (also the chip-breaker would be in the way, I excpect).

In short, my Veritas Scub Plane is excellent at what it does, but is not strictly an essential tool.
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
17,971
Reaction score
746
Location
Derbyshire
Scrub plane much more useful than a jack for rough work and remove stuff much faster! But yes does leave a mess and much too crude for door fitting or any joinery at all.
The metal ones are too heavy and not popular, virtually unknown in UK, but the little wooden European ones are brilliant. I wouldn't bother trying to convert anything with a blade wider than 32mm approx.
Particularly good for cleaning up rough old timbers for re-use, hence the name "scrub".
I use mine a lot - mainly because I've got loads of old timbers.
The narrow blade with a deep camber gouges down into the clean wood below and lifts off all the crud with the shavings. Still have to pull nails but the odd nick doesn't matter as they aren't for fine finishing and are very easy to sharpen.
I'll see if I can find some photos.
 

Fitzroy

All the gear...
Joined
12 Mar 2013
Messages
1,372
Reaction score
338
Location
Aberdeen
I've a wooden jack with a cambered blade in it, no idea of the camber radius. I find it useful for taking lots of material off fast, but thinking about it I'm probably taking a max 3/4" wide chip, that is say max 1mm thick at the middle. The maths says the radius of my cutter edge is about 2", looking my coffee cup next to me that feels about right. The efficiency I think comes from deep but narrow cuts, not wide an deep cuts. I'd try a tighter radius but with less blade extension.

Fitz.
 

Jameshow

Established Member
Joined
4 Oct 2020
Messages
899
Reaction score
402
Location
Bradford
I use a newish cheap no5 as a scrub plane for smoothing up 1" pine board which I can get cheap and it's quite easy to get a smooth finish for a small table top of chest of drawers top which is thicker than 3/4 par.

I also used it on used scaffold planks that a customer wanted when I wasn't prepared to take my nice planes to, which it scrubbed up well.

Not one for massive reductions in timber anyway.

Cheers James
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
17,971
Reaction score
746
Location
Derbyshire
...... I usually split a log with my froe and then use the scrub plane (which I've also used when fitting skirting boards/window linings to uneven masonry - the 'other' use) to get the timber ready for the other planes. .....
Yes thats another use for the scrub, where earlier generations might have used an adze or even just the axe.
 

pe2dave

Established Member
Joined
2 Oct 2007
Messages
819
Reaction score
215
Location
Peterborough, Cambs, UK
I use a #4, with a rounded (7" radius) iron. AFAICT is 'is' a scrub plane?
Change the iron and it's my daily go to. I.e. I don't think you need any more
than the rounded iron.
 

Andy Kev.

Established Member
UKW Supporter
Joined
20 Aug 2013
Messages
1,364
Reaction score
118
Location
Germany
Thanks for the replies and they all make sense: horses for courses, I suppose.

pe2dave, I think I'm in the same camp as you. If I were regularly being confronted with seriously rough timbers, then a (wooden?) scrub might be an idea but fortunately the rough sawn stuff from the local timber yard doesn't come into that category.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
6,451
Reaction score
746
Location
PA, US
Scrub plane much more useful than a jack for rough work and remove stuff much faster! But yes does leave a mess and much too crude for door fitting or any joinery at all.
The metal ones are too heavy and not popular, virtually unknown in UK, but the little wooden European ones are brilliant. I wouldn't bother trying to convert anything with a blade wider than 32mm approx.
Particularly good for cleaning up rough old timbers for re-use, hence the name "scrub".
I use mine a lot - mainly because I've got loads of old timbers.
The narrow blade with a deep camber gouges down into the clean wood below and lifts off all the crud with the shavings. Still have to pull nails but the odd nick doesn't matter as they aren't for fine finishing and are very easy to sharpen.
I'll see if I can find some photos.
If a wooden jack plane needs more camber, just add it to the jack (or get a second jack). It has less friction than a scrub plane, is more accurate and takes less energy to use.

The average person would be far better off with a two handed continental plane with a short radius or a more radically radiused jack plane than adding a metal scrub plane, but the metal scrub plane is smaller and may be better for a site tool than a 16" jack plane because of it.

If material removal is faster with a scrub plane than a wooden jack plane, something is wrong with how the wooden jack plane is begin used.
 

profchris

Established Member
Joined
14 Jun 2015
Messages
855
Reaction score
95
Location
Suffolk
My scrub plane is an old Continental-style (horned front handle) smoother, which has a wide mouth and a 2 inch blade with a tight radius, between 2 ins and 3 ins. So it makes a scoop only around 1/2 inch wide when cutting.

I use it for thicknessing figured timber. I regularly need to reduce a board in thickness from 5mm or 6mm to less than 2mm. Working it down with conventional planes is very slow, and risks deep tearout if I try to go faster. My scrub, worked across the grain at around 45 degrees, never produces more than 1mm of tearout. So I can quickly thickness to 3mm, and then go slowly at the rest more conventionally. A ukulele side might be 14 x 2.5 inches, so you can see I can't easily use large planes.

For something beefier, like a guitar neck, I wouldn't use the scrub. I'll have sawn it close to final dimensions, so it just needs normal planing (no 5 or 5 1/2, then no 4).
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
6,451
Reaction score
746
Location
PA, US
Thanks for the replies and they all make sense: horses for courses, I suppose.

pe2dave, I think I'm in the same camp as you. If I were regularly being confronted with seriously rough timbers, then a (wooden?) scrub might be an idea but fortunately the rough sawn stuff from the local timber yard doesn't come into that category.
You'd still want a wooden jack plane rather than any supposed purpose made scrub plane. Scrub planes weren't used to dimension rough sawn lumber because they make a mess of it and take more energy to use. I have a surplus of jacks. How anyone is going to set up a plane like a jack is going to be based on what's about a brisk walk effort level.

I measured mine - the radius is hand cut, so I don't have a clue what it is. It's minimum effort level for hard softwoods through beech in medium hardwoods. When I make another plane and set the radius otherwise (narrower for "harder" woods or something where less cut is desirable, then those planes end up in disuse as it makes more sense to dimension just less cut on the main jack).

At any rate, what I found just now for projection from the plane mouth is 1.4" of width protruding from the mouth of my jack plane and the peak of the projection is around 5 hundredths of an inch. Common pitch bedding, so the radius is steeper than that by something like the square root of two.

Flatter than this, and removing wood becomes problematic. Less flat, and removing wood becomes problematic (due to tearout, separating of fibers, blowing out edges, etc, and leaving behind a surface that has unintentional deep spots in it - creating more follow up work).

I hand dimension about 300-500 board feet a year (rough sawn). That's not a huge amount, but it's enough to get a very good idea of what's less effort and what's not (when to resaw, when to plane, when to rip, etc). I would guess that I use this jack plane to get within less than a 16th of a marking line and then clean up to the line with the try plane (which only has slightly more camber than a smoother).

The guy who got me into woodworking likes the logical idea that a narrow short plane can really "spot work" on wood, and he loves the shavings that come off of the plane. I've seen him use it twice for wood that was too wide for his jointer (that was badly cupped or twisted). He made a mess of it and fortunately the wood was thick. To him, a jack plane is more like something more like a try plane or jointer, because that's how he'd use one.

I do have a power planer (but no power jointer). On the rare occasion that I use a power planer a couple of times a year, a wooden jack is good enough to prepare wood for it -scallops or not, the board is flat enough and doesn't bind, and a pass or two removes all evidence of the jack plane (just like the try plane does).

There's one other benefit of the wooden plane - if you happen to be working wet wood, it won't create too much friction. metal planes are terrible on partially dried wood.

(I suspect instances of older planes with really drastic camber - prior to the marketing of a scrub plane -we used to clean up wet riven lumber when the orientation on the face and the wetness make mass removal much easier).
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
6,451
Reaction score
746
Location
PA, US
My scrub plane is an old Continental-style (horned front handle) smoother, which has a wide mouth and a 2 inch blade with a tight radius, between 2 ins and 3 ins. So it makes a scoop only around 1/2 inch wide when cutting.

I use it for thicknessing figured timber. I regularly need to reduce a board in thickness from 5mm or 6mm to less than 2mm. Working it down with conventional planes is very slow, and risks deep tearout if I try to go faster. My scrub, worked across the grain at around 45 degrees, never produces more than 1mm of tearout. So I can quickly thickness to 3mm, and then go slowly at the rest more conventionally. A ukulele side might be 14 x 2.5 inches, so you can see I can't easily use large planes.

For something beefier, like a guitar neck, I wouldn't use the scrub. I'll have sawn it close to final dimensions, so it just needs normal planing (no 5 or 5 1/2, then no 4).
I think the key here is that you're working on instruments (i've done the same - planing and scraping wood to thickness for instrument tops or planing guitar body parts). It's fairly little work compared to furniture and it highlights to me why I've gotten active planes from luthiers that were in use, but not set up very well (the planing is done in a flash). This kind of work is done more quickly with a wooden jack plane, too (and closer to the mark without ever having tearout as deep as a mm), but doing something in 6 minutes vs. 10 doesn't really make much difference on a guitar - it's not where the major time would be compared to making a case where the lumber prep is considerable vs. the detail work.
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
17,971
Reaction score
746
Location
Derbyshire
If a wooden jack plane needs more camber, just add it to the jack (or get a second jack). It has less friction than a scrub plane, is more accurate and takes less energy to use.

The average person would be far better off with a two handed continental plane with a short radius or a more radically radiused jack plane than adding a metal scrub plane, but the metal scrub plane is smaller and may be better for a site tool than a 16" jack plane because of it.

If material removal is faster with a scrub plane than a wooden jack plane, something is wrong with how the wooden jack plane is begin used.
The scrub gouges out a deep groove on even rough stuff which a normal jack would hardly touch. Never used a metal scrub but I imagine would be harder work than my ECE.
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
17,971
Reaction score
746
Location
Derbyshire
Found some scrub snaps. I widened the mouth on the scrub which you can see in one of the photos
scrub0.jpg
scrub00.jpg
scrub1.jpg
scrub2.jpg
scrub3.jpg
scrub4.jpg
scrub5.jpg

scrub6.jpg

Like a spoon through ice cream until the jack plane finally comes into use on this last one and it becomes hard work!
 
Last edited:

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
6,451
Reaction score
746
Location
PA, US
That's the first time I've ever seen a "sad" reaction on a forum!!
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
17,971
Reaction score
746
Location
Derbyshire
Another scrub here. Only the second one I've ever seen. Was in the kit of a sadly departed old joiner from a famous Leicester firm and appears to be self made. Shallower camber but similar sort of use.
2scrub4.jpg
2scrub3.jpg
2scrub2.jpg
2scrub1.jpg
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
6,451
Reaction score
746
Location
PA, US
Found some scrub snaps. I widened the mouth on the scrub which you can see in one of the photos
View attachment 98391View attachment 98392View attachment 98393View attachment 98394View attachment 98395View attachment 98396View attachment 98398
View attachment 98399
Like a spoon through ice cream until the jack plane finally comes into use on this last one and it becomes hard work!
Which one is the jack? If the jack is set as fine as the flatness of that surface without scallops, then what should be done is to use one plane between the two of those leaving tiny ridges right at the mark only to be planed off right to the thickness line.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
6,451
Reaction score
746
Location
PA, US
Another scrub here. Only the second one I've ever seen. Was in the kit of a sadly departed old joiner from a famous Leicester firm and appears to be self made. Shallower camber but similar sort of use.View attachment 98404View attachment 98405View attachment 98406View attachment 98407
This plane is set similarly to my jack - the width helps in keeping a surface in good enough shape that a plane that's not at all rank set will finish the job right after in a minimum number of strokes.

Every woodworker I've talked to who works by hand ends up saying they've gotten obsessed (after learning the cap iron - if it's needed on the jack plane, usually not) with getting as close to the mark with the jack plane as possible as it's easier to push, and then the plane following behind it really only needs to finish the surface prep and they're at the mark. I agree with this, though on narrow sticking, like face frame bits, you can thickness with the try plane because the cut is narrow, and it's arguably faster.
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
17,971
Reaction score
746
Location
Derbyshire
Which one is the jack? If the jack is set as fine as the flatness of that surface without scallops, then what should be done is to use one plane between the two of those leaving tiny ridges right at the mark only to be planed off right to the thickness line.
Jack was a 5 1/2. I showed the ECE scrub next to a No3 just for comparison
 
Top