Dimensioning beech wood. Why is it so hard?

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    Topic
  • #553177
    Panagiotis M
    Participant

    Hello everyone!

    I am a new woodworker learning how to dimension and square wood through hand tools. I have access to a lot of beech wood but it seems extremely hard to dimension it. Starting with rough lumber and diagonal planing, I can get it almost flat but after that it’s very difficult to proceed. The problem is that after a certain point I can’t get any shavings unless I set the plane to deep. The plane just glides on the surface and more than often, when it bites, it gets jammed. I have to fight the wood and apply way to much pressure and the result is really bad.

    For comparison, with the same plane, same level of sharpness and same technique, dimensioning oak is hard but quite fun!

    FYI the stock I am trying to square is about 3′ long x 5″ wide and 2 1/4″ thick

    Is it beech, is it me? Any thoughts are welcome!

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  • #553179
    btyreman
    Participant

    @btyreman

    your plane blade needs to be sharper, when a plane starts behaving like that it’s time to sharpen up, I’ve found you need to sharpen more regularly with beech and oak, it should be pretty easy to plane though and enjoyable.

    #553190
    Panagiotis M
    Participant

    @panagiotis0

    [quote quote=553179]your plane blade needs to be sharper, when a plane starts behaving like that it’s time to sharpen up, I’ve found you need to sharpen more regularly with beech and oak, it should be pretty easy to plane though and enjoyable.[/quote]

    @btyreman that was exactly my first thought! I sharpen my blade with a naniwa combination stone (1000/3000), followed by stroping and it passes the usual hair shaving test. Even with a freshly sharp blade, the plane keeps gliding, especially if I wax the sole.
    If I try planing the edge of the board, everything is fine, but when I go to face I can’t get consistent shavings with the grain.

    #553202
    Ed
    Participant

    @ed

    @panagiotis0 My first thought is sharpness, too. The symptoms your describe are exactly what you get. Double check your angle isn’t too big. On the other hand, for hard woods, you may need to be steeper than normal to keep the edge from failing. Try for 35-ish.

    If you can get shavings but have a lot of tear out in the reversing grain, push the cap iron very, very close to the edge and set for very thin shavings. The plane will be harder to push, but this helps me with cranky grain. The other thing that helps me is to have some amount of camber. It can be small. I’m not saying to make a scrub plane, but a little bit of camber vs. a straight edge with dubbed corners, I find easier to get get through cranky grain.

    When really desperate, I’ll give a light wipe of denatured alcohol (on the wood) and then plane immediately. I can’t say this is good for you, and I have no idea why it works, but it seems to help get me out of really difficult places at times.

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