Curly Maple

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    Hi folks,
    I’m fairly new to woodworking and really love it and practicing almost everyday.
    I recently bought some curly maple fairly cheap and can’t seem to figure out the best way to plane the stuff. I’ve sharpened my irons, the Paul Sellers way of course, but no matter I still seem to get tear out. I can’t afford to buy one of the low angle planes and don’t know if they would help anyway.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


    Chris Dugdale

    If anything, you might be better off with a higher-angle plane or a scraper.

    That said, if you keep the blade razor sharp, set the cap iron very close to the cutting edge, set the plane to take very, very thin shavings, you should be able to get a good finish with a standard-angle plane.

    Also, try skewing the plane by 45-degrees. You might find that skewing clockwise works better than anti-clockwise (or vice versa).

    If you need to take a thicker shaving to reach dimension, or get below that tear-out, then try planing across the board. It won’t be pretty, but it shouldn’t tear-out as much.

    The key really seems to be incredibly thin shavings, though.

    I hope this helps.


    I have also had issues with dense grained hard woods the key for me was ensuring i did have a very sharp iron, set st proper sharpening angle, and if you are stropping, be careful not to roll over your fresh edge, which is what i was doing.
    Good luck, dont give up.

    Ontario, Canada


    Thanks for your replies.
    I think the first thing to do is to be patient. I have a tendency to rush and in the end it slows me down because I made a mistake.
    I’ll try the advice you’ve given and I promise I won’t give up.
    I wish I had started woodworking when I was younger and not waiting till I was 65. ha ha

    Thanks again,


    Starting with fancy, figured woods so early is probably not the best idea. I haven’t had tons of experience with those kinds of woods, but the few I have worked have ranged from harder than normal wood to very, very challenging.

    Good advice above. First steps are to re-sharpen your plane and set it for a super shallow cut. If you watch this video, you’ll see how shallow of a cut he initially takes:

    If that doesn’t work, also skew to 45 degrees or so, so you’re attacking less of the work…taking a narrower shaving. If you’re flush with cash, you can buy fancy planes or spare irons or frogs for specialized cutting angles. If that doesn’t work, the nuclear option is the scraper (freshly sharpened, of course).

    I’m currently working on an insanely figured piece of bocote and my scraper has been a life saver.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 8 months ago by Edmund.

    Hi Ed,
    I actually started about a year ago but during the cold weather here in the northeast and my shop, if you want to call it that, is not heated so I haven’t spent the whole year practicing the craft.
    The help from the others was great. I started planing across the grain which to my surprise worked really well and then at a 45 and then the trusty scraper.
    I got the wood really cheap from a cousin of my neighbors whose father had passed and needed to clean up things and eventually sell the house.. I also bought an old #6 that I restored and it works great. That cost me a bottle of scotch. I guess you could say 2 bottles seeing I figured I buy one for myself at the same time.
    If I had known the difficulty in machine the curly maple I probably wouldn’t have bought it.
    Nah! I would have bought it anyway. Ha ha.
    Thanks for the reply,

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