Please teach me about planes

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stuckinthemud

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I am a carver, not a joiner or turner or carpenter, and have been for 40 years off-and-on. I can sharpen edged tools to a good standard without jigs. I have never enjoyed using planes. I have a few metal bodied planes but beyond sharpening the irons and polishing the soles, never done anything to them. I also have never been given any instruction in plane use/maintenance/tuning. So at the risk of opening a can of worms, please walk me through the basics BUT, please let’s stay away from sharpening- I already have ingrained habits on keeping nice sharp edges…
 
I want to be able to use my planes on hard wood and soft wood without feeling like I’m winging it, and I do realise I may need to have some set up for very hard timber (fruit woods, for instance)and others set up for relatively soft timber (like B and Q red pine) but I have a few jack planes and a couple more of number 6 or 7 as well as a dozen wood moulding planes and a very badly decayed wooden plane body about 2 feet long that if I knew anything I might be tempted to restore.
 
Paul Sellers is one of the best for sensible basic advice. He's done several vids and lots on his blog posts.
If you are a bit of a beginner I'd start by doing what he does here - with a 4 or 5 practice on the edge of a thin board before you move on to more difficult stuff. Keep it simple!

 
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I guess I mean are you using these planes from rough to finish or just after power planer/thicknesser?
 
Well, I rough out with hatchet and/or hand saw, gouges/chisels/draw knife or spoke shave, then when I’m close a Shinto rasp is often pressed into service. Sometimes I can’t avoid using a plane but I do try to avoid them if I can. I am reasonably proficient with hand planes, I can cut straight edges, dimension and square timber, I can hand saw and plane a door as fast or faster than I can with an electric plane, for instance, but I feel like I don’t really understand the tool. Like, I hear people discussing the size of the mouth, or tuning a plane. What’s that all about? All I know is to keep it sharp, and, keep the sole polished and true and waxed
 
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I think you'll generally want to follow the planing process that's described in nicholson.

If I were starting where you are, I'd start with an english wooden double iron jack plane (16-17 inches long) with enough camber that the shaving taken is only about 2/3rds of the width of the iron.

Between there and a smoother, I'd have a wooden try plane (double iron) and a metal jointer

And then a metal smoother like a stanley or record 4

And that's it for the start.

clean up the cap iron and iron on them so that you can set the cap irons close to the edge without them clogging and then from there, it's really a matter of diagnosing problems. To make a laundry list of everything that you "should do" when only a small amount would be applicable is just information overload.

Beware of anyone giving you pet modern ideas or glowing comments about "you need japanese planes!!" or bevel up or whatever else - that stuff is mostly an infatuation with something that doesn't get used that much or when someone is new. If you're not starting from a machine planer, doing it like people did it before using a machine planer is your best bet.
 
Paul Sellers is one of the best on sensible basic advice. He's done several vids and lots on his blog posts.
If you are a bit of a beginner I'd start by doing what he does here - with a 4 or 5 practice on the edge of a thin board before you move on to more difficult stuff. Keep it simple!



Paul sellers is a fool when it comes to using planes for more than smoothing. It's late in the afternoon, and I'm in the middle of work - no time to try to make it sound nicer.
 
aaannnddd, we're off to the races...

Sometimes, you just have to give the honest brief answer. Sellers specializes in blogging and getting people to go to his site. if someone is going from rough with planes, sellers has no useful information and some of what he wants to provide is detrimental. Very.
 
To be fair, based on what you can already do with a plane (accurate site carpentry) I would just carry on without worrying.

Using your planes as they are, do you have any specific problems? You're clearly skilled, I think you'll pick it up quickly.

Spend a day or two using your planes and you'll be away
 
To be fair, based on what you can already do with a plane (accurate site carpentry) I would just carry on without worrying.

Using your planes as they are, do you have any specific problems? You're clearly skilled, I think you'll pick it up quickly.

Spend a day or two using your planes and you'll be away

Precisely.

i'd be glad to help with anything specific. I know a lot about planes and using them. Just ask jacob. :)

Almost all of the content online is intended to get people who have never worked or done anything started with planes, and it seems to be incompatible with leaving simple things simple and understanding when simple paint by number doesn't solve a problem.

I don't think most of the content presenters really could answer the question "could I work without power tools using your methods, like for real"?

The OP is already sharpening carving tools and doing rough work with hatchet, etc. he's almost there just at the start.
 
Pretty much all hand planing is basic, but there is a lot of daftness, dishonesty and/or lack of precise work from most folks.
Try and fight flat and you wont fair well, so a good straight edge of whatever description, and long reach angle poise is about the best way to progress without bad habits, as you'll actually be sure of what you're doing.

Don't plane in a vise if the work is deflecting, and the same might go with a bendy warped workbench top, the surface needs to be flat if that is the case,
as the plane wont cut into a hollow.

David Charlesworth has the best information regarding honest work and good habits, if you want precision.
Those principals will enable one to always have a plane which takes a cut no matter the shaving,
rather than taking swipes of thin air or hogging chips off inaccurately with a scrub plane, as that thing is a sure step into fighting with the tool/flatness.

All the best
Tom
 
🙄 Well you have your monoplane, biplane, triplane, piston engine or gas turbine, propeller and jet, float plane, sea plane, amphibious, tail dragger or tricycle, fixed or retractable landing gear, single seat or more, open or cabin cockpit, fabric covered, metal, composite (fibreglass) and the variations go on. Much like woodworking hand planes there are a lot but you really at most just need a couple unless you like to collect an have at least one of everything. 😉

Pete
 
Hogging off thick shavings with a scrub plane is the way to reduce the high spots on riven or hewn timber or for shaping. Using one on a sawn board is just a waste of time, as the board is going to be fairly flat anyway.

Saying that a scrub plane doesn't have a use in preparing a piece of wood for flattening or further work is just plane daft, and is a theory promoted by the misinformed.
 
Hogging off thick shavings with a scrub plane is the way to reduce the high spots on riven or hewn timber or for shaping. Using one on a sawn board is just a waste of time, as the board is going to be fairly flat anyway.

Saying that a scrub plane doesn't have a use in preparing a piece of wood for flattening or further work is just plane daft, and is a theory promoted by the misinformed.
Yes scrub for riven and hewn, also adze, axe, gouge, but its another area really, compared to typical bench work which mostly starts with sawn timber. That's how it is for me but I do use a scrub for reclaimed and painted old timber.
When was making and fitting a lot of stuff I never had a scrub plane as such but often used an axe for scribing to fit etc. Scrub would have been handy. Joiners axe is another tool not used a lot nowadays but used to be common.

Biggest problem for our OP is the likelihood of being blasted with pages of conflicting information from maniacal enthusiasts, often amateurs themselves, but if they get carried away you can switch to "ignore" - just click on their name tag to the left to find the button!
 
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......... I hear people discussing the size of the mouth, or tuning a plane. What’s that all about?
It's about maniacal enthusiasts talking their secret language!
All I know is to keep it sharp, and, keep the sole polished and true and waxed
Thats about it - and keep the frog dead in line with the mouth so that the back of the blade gets that last little bit of support from the mouth itself.
Normal use keeps a sole polished and wax just needs a squiggle every now and then with a candle.
 
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