Planning edge square

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    Hi everybody,
    Today I was in my workshop trying to put edge of board square to face. This is something that I usually failed at so I was practicing a little. And guess what? I still failed and this is frustrating 🙂
    I remember reading somewhere that remedy for this is to put little more pressure on the side where I’m high. Paul also mentioned that on clock video. OK, so I understand concept but I’m not really sure how to do this. I’m really interested how do you do this? How do you put more pressure on one side without tilting plane? And, doing that do you still have shavings of full width or you only get shavings only on the side where you apply more pressure?
    Sorry if this is really beginners question to some of you but I’m stuck on this

    Living in Croatia


    I would like to know more about this too. I used to follow David Charlesworth sharpening and planing methods.  He uses a more significant curved blade and that helped in planing edges square to the faces. The technique is that you place the middle of the blade on the high side. And because of the curve it takes tapered shavings. Now that I follow Paul’s methods the curve is much less and this technique doesn’t work anymore.


    I mostly sharpen my irons straight across (w/corners clipped) like Paul shows.  If I have a lot to take off one side to square the edge, I adjust the lateral lever to take a larger shaving on the high side.  Because the cutting depth tapers across the iron, it will feather in just as if you had a cambered edge.  Read this somewhere a couple of years ago, maybe in one of Aldren Watson’s books.  Just remember to reset your iron before you resume general planing.

    Just moved to NE Ohio


    Great thread! I still try different ways of working with my plane.

    First a link to a description by David Charlesworth and his method using cambered irons: Learning Curves

    I personally work with a straight edge iron and try to apply more pressure on the high side. Sometimes I swing the end of the plane out by 10-15cm to amplify the difference in applied pressure sideways. This results in a shaving that goes from thick to nothing.

    I am however not satisfied with my ways and find that I have to redo and sometimes overshoot and have to counter correct. My plan is to prepare a plane iron according to Davids method and try that way of working.

    Look forward to the more senior guys sharing their opinion in this matter!




    Located in Jönköping, Sweden.


    for mildly out-of-square edges, I’m still working on the “apply pressure” method.  If you apply pressure correctly, you get slightly thicker shavings on the pressured side.

    Just moved to NE Ohio


    I struggle with this too but instead of tilting the plane I keep the plane sole flat and move it over so its only shaving the high side one or two strokes then check level, if its flat then I back the iron off a tad and take a full width shaving.  It definitely takes a concerted effort to get things flat!




    Hi guys
    Thanks for replays so far. Here is one possible way of doing it

    Living in Croatia


    I too struggle with this, mine always slopes to the left. One thing that has helped, is instead of letting the knuckles on the front hand run on the face of the wood, I kept my fingers straighter and let my fingertips run on the face.

    I think this will be problem for me, till one day it just clicks  and Ha a straight edge. I do hope it comes soon 🙂


    I forgot about the lateral adjuster 🙂 But I like to keep the iron properly aligned until the next sharpening. And often the high spot change sides. With the curved blade it’s just a matter of moving the center of the blade/plane to the other side.

    Paul Sellers

    I most often find that in the early phase of learning to edge planing, people take too thick a shaving off and this then quickly sends them off keel. If the plane is set correctly, perfectly parallel across the sole, the plane takes a parallel cut. If the plane is off centre, the fibres compress more and the plane applies more direct weight to one side. Three strokes with a thicker set sends you out of square quickly. The fingers along the side of the plane and even tucked under the sole trace the wood and the plane stays centred by this guiding touch. Better to take a little off, two or three shavings, and then check with the square. This then minimizes miss-managed planes. This has nothing to do with the corners of the plane iron being removed or crowned irons. It’s more to do with developing skill and sensitivity I think and this then delivers a smoother operation that unfolds through rote practice. I wonder if sometimes people expect too much of themselves in the formative stages of learning and mastering skill. I just encourage you to make certain the plane is perfectly sharpened and set and that you practice on the edge of a 3/4″ thick board. I also suggest that you really do check that the iron is set exactly parallel to the sole by even measuring the thickness of the shaving from each sode of the plane. This may be the only way you can check yourself until your hearing and sight can assess it better.


    Great stuff Paul, Many thanks


    It’s precisely as Paul says.  Initially, there’s always the temptation to work faster and take heavier shavings than necessary.  While the removal of such heavy shavings tends to amplify errors, finer shavings removal and frequent checking can help avoid/resolve problems by minimising errors.

    Don’t be afraid to work to pencil lines if necessary.  Your eye for detail and accuracy will increase, but it’s often best to work to guidelines until you reach the point where they become unnecessary unless gauging stock dimensions.  Accuracy and speed come with practise.

    The method for removing high spots or ridges depends upon the severity of the problem.  Options are;

    1.  Bias the plane sole above the high point.

    2.  Use the lateral adjuster to increase cut depth slightly above the high point.

    3.  Tilt the plane sole slightly so bulk is removed from the high point.

    The above options aren’t too far removed from David’s method using cambered irons, but the use of a lightly set, straight edged iron (Parallel to the sole) tends to avoid the pitfall of removing too much material and risk of creating a dished surface – if a cambered edge is too severe – across the width of the material being worked.

    It’s all a case of time, patience, sharp edges and plenty of practise. 😉


    Ok guys, sorry if this is the long version. After reading Paul’s post again and again, even though it’s 01:03 uk time, I had to go and check.

    I new the iron was sharp, and it was set parallel across the sole. Then I though the only thing I have never changed while trying to plane a straight  edge is me, my stance.

    Mine always slopes to the left no matter what I do, well I do get it straight in the end after a great deal of frustration. I got some 3/4″ scrap with a  straight edge, I tucked my self right into my make shift bench, took two passes and checked it, still straight. After about 20 passes it was still straight.

    I tried this with some out of square  scrap, and got it straight and square, with very little work.

    HaHa sorry to go on guys, but I’m happy with that result 🙂



    Hi Ken,
    If I understood correctly You were high on right side and solved it by positioning yourself more to the right? Good for you 🙂
    I never take my stance into consideration, this is something I will have to try (I’m almost allways high on left side)

    Paul, you are right, expectations are high and experience is low. But to me this really sounds like basic skill without which there is really hard to continue (I mean, you must have square edges, right?).

    Thank you all for sharing

    Living in Croatia


    Nice one Ken 😉

    Hi Sinisa,

    I know it’s frustrating to be unable to plane straight and true right off the bat, but all of us had/have problems coming to terms with and mastering certain skill sets.  Anyone who says he/she didn’t have problems is either extremely fortunate or lying.

    Stance and balance are certainly influences worthy of consideration and altering.  So is grip and how you grasp the plane, because you need to be relaxed to the point where you’re acting as the tool guide and motor allowing the plane iron or chisel blade to do the majority of the work while you rest it’s cutting edge on the work piece, point it in the right direction and push.  If you find yourself pushing extremely hard in order to make shavings, you need to reduce the depth of cut and consider re-sharpening the iron.  The bulk of  your energy should be spent on concentration while your rear hand grasps the plane handle using the same three fingered grip you use with a hand saw (Fore finger pointing forward) and your leading hand cradles the forward knob.  If your knuckles are white you’re holding the handle too tightly and need to relax your grip.

    Making sure your timber is clamped firmly in the vise/against a planing stop, stand close to the work and with – elbows relaxed/slightly bent and the plane’s toe resting upon the work piece, take a shaving.  If the plane iron is sharp and set correctly there should be little resistance as you remove the shaving using an even and consistent plane stroke.  You’re aiming for a continuous, full width shaving and – if you find the shaving varies in thickness – you need to adjust the iron until it’s capable of doing so.  If the shaving is narrow, tilt your plane very slightly during the next plane stroke and aim to remove a wider shaving, but with the plane pointing straight ahead at all times.

    Skewing the plane can also lead to an unintentional tilt when planing.

    I hope this helps in some way.

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