I am quite new to this but having been an electronic and mechanical engineer for 25 years with family who worked wood I have started to get into woodwork in a big way.
Having developed a nice little workshop in my single garage unit with most manual tools Paul recommended donated from uncles or acquired at boot sales I have recently acquired a shed full of air dried Oak, sycamore, ash cherry and chestnut.
A few projects like a bench for a pillar drill bench and garden table went mixed ways but Im getting better.
Bootsales have been a great asset to inheriting family tools. I have acquired a lot cheap.
I now have a few questions. They are mixed subjects but I thought Id put them here first under one topic to avoid many posts.
1.) When planing oak I get chunks ripped out of it? How do I work it smooth short of sanding it? It planes immaculately on two faces the other two mirror like with rough splintered chunks out of it.
I get it on green oak, kiln and air dried.
I change my planing direction but no way works. Scraping just leaves scalloped smooth holes.
2.) my planes and cabinet scrapers leave light grey marks on my oak .
I have flattened the soles, sharpened irons to razor sharp with edges chamfered and filed the edges finishing with emery cloth, polished, cleaned with white spirit.
It still leaves grey marks mainly on the edges but occasionally in the middle.
I get lovely thin ribbons from the 4, 4 1/2, 5 and the scraper works well bar leaving shallow ripples in the surface.
3.) How much throat clearance do I need on my planes? I have closed it up substantially getting great razor like planing but other than green oak needing a larger throat and seasoned narrow I have no idea how much and you have to dismantle the plane to adjust this before finding out it does not work.
4.) How do you get a router plane iron square. They are crooked so its hard to fit on a stone or tormek. lying it over the edge of the stone on a bench works side to side but is slow and isnt easy to get straight. which do I use the single edge or the double edge pointed one?
5.) what is the easiest way to clean up end grain?cross planing or spokeshave use tears out grain, the other way the grain is hard work and digs in. Rasps damage the nice edge. i have quite a lot to take off and when I cut with my coping saw It took a long time and I left a few mm extra on to shape it.
6.) Why do I get cutt marks near the edges of my wood but no where else? Im assuming its digging in at the edge but no matter how aI try or adjust the scrapper I still get juddery digging in marks.
When planed with plane set up well the whole piece looks lovely bar these! See pics illustrating issues.
Thankyou all for the great family that is this site. I have silently watched, read, absorbed and practiced for a while and this and Paul’s book working wood 1 and 2 are the best things I have ever owned and used. A hobby which adds to my home and gives me something I can feel , shape and enjoy.
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I’m having a go at your lengthy post, many questions here…
To begin with I’d say welcome to the family 🙂
Though I’ll never consider myself as an accomplished woodworker I’ve experienced a few of your issues myself so I’ll try and put down what I’ve learned through trial and error and with the help of this forum.
1) it does seem like you’re planing against the grain here. Either that or some swirly grain around knots. Add to that an iron that’s no longer sharp and you’re into lala land.
I’d advice here to make sure you’re sharp, take really thin shavings and if all else fails, the scraper should help. Changing planing direction several times along the length of a board can be necessary, more so if you don’t have premium straight grained wood.
What I’ve read many times over and experienced myself as well is that you have to learn and feel those subtle differences while planing. Most problems arise from a (no longer) sharp iron or too much set so your trying to remove too much in one go. Better (and a lot less tiresome) to take 5 thin shavings than 1 thick one. It’ll also dull your iron a lot faster.
2)not really sure here but it could very well be the tannins in the oak reacting with the sweat of your hands. Or even the drips from your forehead 😛
Are your hands black as well? I always use the oil pad as Paul does and usually don’t have an issue. It seems that some people are more prone to that tannin reaction than others.
Just a guess though.
3)Paul had a few blog posts, even one yesterday on that, so that should clear that problem. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet about throat openings. Again, make sure you’re sharp !
4) a lot of fun to try and sharpen that iron, which is why I believe Paul always does the bulk removal with a chisel and subsequently takes thin passes with his router. Trying to get thick shavings dulls the iron quickly as do knots.
I’ve polished the back (underside of the blade) first and than there is no other option than honing the edge on the edge of your stone. If you have a veritas blade, you can dismantle it to sharpen it using a jig a lot like the one Paul has in his YouTube channel for a spoke shave blade. I’m also trying to find the best way here as I do find those hooked blades tedious to sharpen.
5) a sharp plane, a knifeline to plane to. Period! For small parts a shooting board helps a lot. I usually try and make sure I saw as close as I dare (with the added risk of screwing up) to my knifeline so the clean up is minimal. A quote from Paul in one of his videos :”it’s always worth it to sharpen your plane before planing end grain “.
So once again sharp cures everything. If on a concave edge than a spoke shave should do it, as long as it’s sharp! A convex edge you usually can do it with a no 4. Sometimes a scraper is needed too.
6) I assume you get these with a scraper right?
I think you’re changing the angle of the scraper as you near the end of a board, I found I got that too if not paying attention. What helps for me is aiming for a ‘plane taking off’ motion if you can follow this. It just means almost lifting the scraper off before you get to the edge, but just a little as you do want a shaving till the end. A Stanley no 80 makes this a lot easier. I believe I still have yet to master my scrapers too though.
There, I hope this helps, I’m sure others will chime in. But to repeat make sure you’re sharp as that is usually the cure.
Also if you haven’t already, sign up to the wwmc immediately! Tons of info there and a lot of technique videos as well. Best money I’ve spent, even beats buying tools, but only by a margin 🙂
I’ll give your questions a go also, but much of what I have backs up what Alien8 said.
1. I see in a photo that the tear-out is in an area of knots, which means swirling grain. Your only recourse here is either an extremely sharp plane or a well-tuned cabinet scraper. And with the plane, there are those who say you should have the mouth very tight (small opening) – more on that in #3.
2. No idea what might be causing the grey streaks. Maybe try planing a scrap board for a few minutes and get back to the oak. See if it goes away.
3. In general, the smaller your desired shavings, the smaller the mouth opening and vice-versa. I know Paul says in recent blogs that you can do just about anything with the plane iron set so that its back is flush with the rear aspect of the mouth. That is, the frog is positioned so that its slope is in line with that rear aspect of the mouth. But in trying to “keep it simple” and not complicate things, Paul says many things that are not the whole truth. He has stated that there are situations where you want a tight throat.
You ask what needs to be done to adjust the opening. That is controlled by the frog position. Loosening the two screw on top of the frog and turning the adjusting screw at the bottom back of the frog will tighten the mouth (don’t forget to re-tighten the two top screws). I know it’s a drag, but this is just something you have to do when adjusting your mouth. But fear not – once you have it where you want it, you typically don’t need to change it.
4. Router irons are tricky. Little more to add to what Alien8 said. But I remember seeing a blog or video from Paul on this topic. Maybe you could search for it. Another idea is to look for router iron sharpening videos on YouTube. I’d seen one by Mitch Peacock on hi channel called “WOmadeOD” (“Made in Wood”).
5. Nothing more to add.
6. Not sure I know what’s being asked here, so I’ll pass on this one.
Remember: practice, practice, and then a bit more practice will help. And then maybe some more practice. Let us know how it’s going.
Thank you for the welcome to the forums and thank you for the replies!
I’ll read through and see how it applies to my technique tonight after work.
Its a great source of knowledge a always good to discuss with others.
Regarding wwmc, I joined before doing anything else and are working up to a few projects.
Ok, it seems like its my wood.
I tried two more pieces and with the same setup the plane like a dream leaving a glassy smooth finish with no tearing.
Back to the original pieces and they snag every three inches leaving big gouges tears and ripped up grain.
I was so frustrated I nearly gave up but I have now four squared three pieces of oak and a piece of ash with no problems at all.
Hi Robin. I’m new to woodworking also. I’ve had similar issues. Like Matt mentioned, the blade in your plane may be set too much (too much of the blade showing through the throat) or may have to be sharpened. If you feel that’s not the issue, it could be that your planning against the grain. Everything below is about the pic labeled photo 1 jpeg.
I would plane left to right because it seems like the grain is flowing down hill (the growth rings get larger on the right side of the wood); HOWEVER, it also seems that the grain rises a little before the growth rings get larger. The rise I’m talking about is the wave in the grain that is more to the left side of the wood. So maybe when you get to the wavy part of the grain, try planning in a different direction with the blade barely protruding out of the throat. Which direction? Any direction that works. You may even want to skip that area, plane the areas that are easier and then do that area last.
Overall, Oak can be tough to plane and any time I start to experience big chunks of tear out I sharpen my plane blade and set it more thin (less of the blade protruding out of the throat). If I know that my blade is sharp and I have set it thin, then I try planning in the opposite direction. By the way, I never had any luck planning sycamore.
That piece of oak with the small pin knots has grain going every which-way. A candidate for scraper I suggest. Planing would require maybe a steeper-pitch iron (york pitch) and a very tight mouth.
re: the black marks, one of the other posts has, I believe, your answer. Oak has tannic acid in it. Acids like that (and vinegar – acetic acid) will attack iron and produce the black iron(II) oxide – aka ferrous oxide. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron%28II%29_oxide
To avoid this, wax the sole of the plane, wipe it immediately after planing, and try not to have moisture in the wood you are planing.
Its all makes sense. I finished the board above with a cabinet scraper but the long boards of a garden table which, are green oak (wet) are the worst I have ever planed. Easy to plane but tear out everywhere. Yet another piece of the same dies not. These have big knots and ovals all the way down 2m if length.
This morning I have been planing a different way after every knot! Pic attached shows the issues. I have the plane set paper thin but as you plane this wood parts of it seem to spring up and snag. I have sanded it now! It just shows no two pieces are the same . Another piece of the sane tree is now four square and looks like a piece of furniture its stunning. Easy to plane too.
I got a lot of this cheap as the garden table didn’t matter if it was perfect..,
The board above is kiln dried but exhibited similar traits.
I had to go five ways with the scraper!
I’ll bare in mind the polish the acid is something I had not thought about!
Interesting. Not sure I’ll get vinegar on my wood but tree sap!
I have a shed full of air dried sycamore ash oak and chestnut that I’ll be treating differently from now on.
Thenk you all ! Its been tremendous to talk through frustrations. If anybody lives in the middle of the uk and needs wood get in touch. I have a few trees I bought and had sawn along with a job lot of air dried , sharing bulk buys is far cheaper, than ordering specific wood.
I have a green oak pergola to finish now before starting my tool cabinet and dining table! Exciting .
Sounds like you’re one your way…
Definitely uneven grain in your wood. You can always call it a feature “rustic” looking 🙂
Glad to be of help. I can assure you’re going to evolve further in your woodworking as you build more experience.
I still remember when I was making sticks from firewood spending over 2 hours sawing and planing just one a little over a foot. And still get a banana.
Now I usually get one done in about 45 mins. Using the right tools helps too. A descent hand saw (3-4 tpi), a scrub plane and a Jack and smoother helps…..
3.) Throat clearance is a funny thing, I like to leave mine fairly open (2 or 3 mm) unless I am having problems then I may experiment with very small openings and super shallow depth of cut. You are always at the mercy of the wood. My wood planes have open non adjustable throats and work as well or better then my iron planes.
4.) You wont like this answer. You grind it square and it must be square to be useful. So depending on what sharpening equipment you have build a jig or do it by hand but get it square to the sole.
5.) You’re plane is not properly tuned. This is frustrating because you think it is. But watch Paul and see if your planes perform as well as his. Probably not, mine don’t. I have about 20 planes and some of them excel at one thing that others do not. That is because there is a difference from one plane to the next that I cannot detect. Fettle and practice, fettle and practice, that’s why they call it a hobby.
On one of his videos Paul pulls a plane along the edge of a piece of wood by using some kind of fat wire wrapped around the front tote. As he pulls the plane a perfect coiled shaving of wood comes out of the top. As far as I know that is impossible. I mean if I hadn’t seen Paul do it on video.
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