Some very, very basic questions

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I'm hesitant to write this as I feel I'm being quite stupid however I need a solution. I'm cutting about 1.5 metres in length - I need to cut it straight - I have a WorkMate - I clamp the piece of wood to the workmate saw half way - move it back a little to "jump" over the edge of the table and finish it off - the line is never straight - I use a straight rule to rule a line down the middle so the line I follow is straight yet not the cut. So I try a different tack - start at one end, jig sawing to the middle - so far so good. Then I start at the other end following the pencil line and... fail to join up by a mm. :oops: I tried clamping two boards either side as a guide but there always seems to be some give and the cut is a little crooked. Very frustrated that such a basic thing is proving to be so difficult - any suggestions to make feel less dumb then I currently do is greatly appreciated. (By the way the wood is from pallets and I'm giving my mate the scraps for his woodburner so at least theres no waste)

Now that I'm here.... I just bought a jack plane - Its sharp however I need to stop every few minutes and clean out hard very compacted wood shavings/dust from where the blade meets the wood - I've tried varying the aperature between the wood and blade but then it doesent make the required plane. Once again, any ideas on how to address this is very welcome - it might be thats its a rubbish plane - I'm not saying it is as I don't really know a good one from bad. (Its a Clarkes £22.00),

Thanks, gar
Hi Gar,

No question is too dumb - if we never asked we would all be wandering around clueless!

OK, if I understand your post you are trying to cut a 1.5m batten lengthways into two narrower strips - correct? I would hesitate to use a jigsaw for this to be honest if an accurate cut is what you are after. My first choice would be a table saw, then a bandsaw, then a circular saw, then a handsaw then a powered jigsaw. The blade on a jigsaw is a little thin and can tend to wobble from side to side depending on the amount of pressure applied to the jigsaw body, knots in the wood, how sharp it is and so on. A good panel saw (hand saw) would be better IMHO if you dont have a table saw or bandsaw.

Assuming you only have a jigsaw, I would first get a new blade. Then clamp guide battens to my worktop the width of the base of my jigsaw so that the jigsaw can run forwards and backwards but not turn. Then run the timber you want to cut under the jigsaw down the line you want to cut. If the timber is wider than the jigsaw base either clamp your guide battens to the timber itself, or use 2 battens on top of each other stepped to allow the wood you want to cut to fit. Bit difficult to describe but I hope you get my meaning. Make sure your blade is sharp and you allow it to cut the wood rather than forcing it through and allowing the blade to deviate from the line.

Since you have a plane, the other alternative is to cut almost to the line then plane down to it. Personally I am no hand tool guru, and it would take me ages! There are also others far more qualified than I to answer your plane question so I will leave that to them.

Hope that helps,

Hi gar,

No sense in feeling dumb. Just remember this. The less precise tools we use dictate to an extent the result we will obtain. Make sure you are starting out with a fresh blade that can make a fairly coarse cut--the fewer the teeth, the less likely the blade will wander due to over heating and clogging with wood chips.

With that in mind, when we use a jigsaw, handsaw or even a bandsaw to cut to a line, there typically will be more to do following the cutting to clean it up than say a table saw.

I would mark the line as you have done, mark which side of the wood was waste and cut a bit wide of the line into the waste side. With a jigsaw you may have to cut further from the line than a more precise tool, such as a bandsaw. This is because a jigsaw often will not cut straight down and if on the bottom side of the cut cuts more towards the side you wish to keep you have to allow for that by cutting further from the line.

Once the cut is finished, then it is time to use that jack plane. It sounds like the plane is set to take too thick a shaving, at least if the distance between the front of the blade and the front of the opening are not too small. It's a bit of a tightrope to walk. The heavier a cut, the bigger the opening, the finer a shaving, the closer it can be. For now, just try to make the opening wider without the back of the blade hitting the back of the mouth opening (the hole in the sole is called the mouth). This will allow any shaving to pass freely.

Next, adjust the blade until it is almost through the opening. With the plane setting down on a flat piece of wood, advance the blade a little at a time while sliding the plane on the flat piece of wood. When you feel the blade catching the wood, stop. Look to see if the blade caught the wood across the whole blade. If not, use the lever (called the lateral adjusting lever) to make the blade touch the wood along its width. This lever makes the blade pivot/tilt to one side or the other. When adjust the blade with the lever, you will most likely need to adjust the blade depth down further also.

The lateral adjusting lever works opposite of the way you want the blade to tilt. So if the left side is hitting the wood and the right side is not, the lever needs to move the left. This will raise the left side and lower the right side. But as it is a pivot, most likely you will need to adjust the blade down further too.

The reason you will need to have the blade taking an even cut is to make the board's edge square. Much easier to do when the blade is taking an even cut itself. All this balancing of the blade being square to the plane's bottom and the thickness of shaving takes trial and error. But you can do it.

You may want to make a second line on the opposite side of the board. It must be exactly the same distance--and the edge you are referencing from itself must be square else the measuring will be off. It is difficult for even many experienced plane users to get the hang of making a straight and square edge with a plane. So don't be too discouraged. Just keep practicing. FWIW, I know people who have difficulty with doing this with a table saw too. It's all a matter of practice.

With a line on both sides and the plane taking off an appropriate shaving, it is a matter to shaving down the edge until both sides are at the lines. As you plane the cut edge, at first it is going to just hit the high spots. It is tempting to make the plane take a heavier cut, which you can mostly get away with at first. But as it gets more difficult to push the plane, just retract the blade a bit.

This is all easier to say than to do. Patience wins the day. You also should concentrate on first getting the jigsaw to cut well and getting use to how it drifts off a line. Once that is under control, worry about making the plane do what it does.
Just on the subject of the plane - when you remove the blade it will be in two parts, the cap iron and the blade itself. These parts are held together by a fat but short screw. When wood chokes the plane, are the shavings forced between the blade and the cap? If so, the fault is probably in the plane and the cap iron will need remedial attention.

Having read MikeW's post above, I have a new plane, only a cheap one, I think its a Stanley, but the lateral adjusting lever has to be fully in one direction to even get the blade looking anything like straight.
Is this plane a lost cause, or is there some other adjustment that the plane fettlers on here can recommend. This plane was a gift from a well meaning relative, but quality appears to be pretty low on the spec. sheet.
GCR":367axnej said:
When wood chokes the plane, are the shavings forced between the blade and the cap? If so, the fault is probably in the plane and the cap iron will need remedial attention.
Further info.

Bone":367axnej said:
the lateral adjusting lever has to be fully in one direction to even get the blade looking anything like straight.
Blade edge not square? Frog skewed in the plane? Frog bedding not machined square? Er... Aw I dunno, I'm still recovering from a big "do" yesterday and my brain is temporarily pickled. :oops:

Cheers, Alf
hi gar ,
in regards to the jig saw cutting . Your jigsaw should have come with a fence that you can attach to the saw. If not then go to a dealer and see if you can buy one . This should improve your cutting to a straight line.
seeyasoon mik.
Hi Gar,

Just a thought, has the plane iron been sharpened. You my find that if you are working with the plane straight out of the box, the manufacturer may have only gone as far as grinding an angle on it. Do a search for 'scary sharp', this is a cheap and effective way to get a razor sharp edge on your blades using wet and dry paper. I found that when I tried it, it made a huge difference to planing.

Good luck

Many thanks for all your help - the info was spot on - I used a hand saw to get the cut - not perfect but better then the jig cut - then took apart the plane, cleaned in every nook and cranny and for some reason seem to be able to open the aperature a lot more - then I planed the cut to get it right - will order the fence and use the "scary sharp" method - it looks a straightforward way to get sharp tools.

Am building a "New England Spice Rack"

Thanks all,


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