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Need wider stock for a table top, panel or other project but struggling to get a clean strong join? Paul shows us his process for edge jointing two pieces together.
this has to be the simplest way i’ve ever seen anyone describe this procedure why do so many other “instructors” make it look so hard thanks for you dedication to teaching the can do way .
Thank you for this instruction, Paul.
I have 2 questions. Do you make an effort to orient your boards so that the grain is running the same direction when gluing up a panel?
And, when I edge plane a board, I consistently plane out of square high on the right side of my plane. I’m right handed and typically using a number 4 1/2 or # 6 plane for edge planing. Do you have any recommendations for adjusting my technique to plane square?
Denise I know you asked Paul but I wanted to weigh in from experience. Yes it would be to your advantage to orient the grain direction the same. I made a trestle table not long ago and it was 5 boards wide. The center board was oriented with the grain in an odd direction and it was a pain in the caboose to plain it…. I’ll leave the second question to the real expert…. 🙂
Pardon my typos.
I have exactly the same problem, especially when I’m only jointing one board. I’ve even considered buying one of those magnetic fences that Veritas sells, but I think I’ll just keep practicing for a while first. If you come up with any different ideas/techniques, let me know.
I too had the same problem for a long, long time. So I bought the veritas fence Gary just wrote about, but that didn’t solve anything! It was only after I read or saw a video by a woodworker (whose name I now forget) who used the camber of the blade to their advantage when edging…if your edge is out of square, ride the plane with the deepest part of the camber on that side. Since it’s taking a deeper cut on that side, and feathering out to nothing on the other, you’ll correct your edge in just a few swipes.
Give it a try- I think you’ll love it.
I think you refer to David Charlesworth. The technique works indeed.
Practice is the only way I know and check the board frequently to see where you are on squareness. There is no doubt that taking the time to orient the boards at the beginning pays off in a nice looking project.
Sandy and Jonathan, thanks much for the feedback and recommendations. I’ll try the camber idea immediately.
Gary, I think this is a very common experience and I suspect that there is a common, yet subtle error we are making to create the problem. I check for square regularly and what I see is more and more out of square, high on the right from my natural planing motion. I try a variety of things to correct the error, but have not yet tried adjusting the iron to cut heavier on my natural high side.
Even still, I’d like to learn to make an adjustment to my planing technique to avoid the problem all together. Until then, I think the iron adjustment will have me edge joining square in no time.
Denise & all who responded….
Dead square is NOT essential for jointing. Watch the video again, particularly 6:30 to 8:13. When both boards are planed together, they’ll meet well, whether dead square or not.
For other purposes you might want / need dead square, but it’s definitely not essential for edge joining. … and all it seems to take is, as Paul says, “50 years of practice.” 🙂
I too had a “body mechanics” problem getting edges square. Practice got me there in slightly less than 50 years.
I had the same problem. I took a scrap piece of wood and practiced getting out of square left, then getting the same edge out of square right to get a feel for what it takes to correct an edge. After a while i could plane an edge, check for square and correct. I also learned that i have to check the full length of the edge as it is not usually all the same.
As paul and bob note, in jointing it does not matter, the sum of the angles equal 180 degrees, flat.
Spencer, I think this approach will teach me a lot and help me correct the problem. Thank you for the idea. I’m off to plane some scrap.
Grip, grip, grip. At least it was for me. I’m right handed and I was consistently high on the right side. Too tight a grip. I started concentrating on pushing the plane with the heal of my hand with three fingers only lightly curled around the tote. Fixed! That was several months ago and I’m still planning my edges square. So far.
Here is a quick visual. Pick up you plane by the tote with your normal grip and hold it out in front of you. Now tighten your grip. Watch how the plane responds.
Of course it could be a thousand other things but grip is the most likely. 🙂
Thank you Greg and Kerry, I’ll really pay attention to the grip and direction of pressure I use when planing. I think with these tips, I’ll have this thing “squared” away in no time.
The WWMC forum interactions are such a huge benefit. Thank you all for sharing experiences.
You are correct Greg, relaxed grip can solve your problem. I was having the same problem when I started using a hand plane, but my problem was more my sharpening technique. I was always introducing slight taper on the edge of my blades when I was using my stones. What solved it was putting a camber on my irons ever so slight, and yes it makes a huge difference. Poor technique can make your learning curve really steep so I started reviewing my mechanics on all the stuff I do even the more benign ones such as scribing a knife line, holding the chisel the right way and so on. And yes one more thing blade alignment can be the culprit take your time with it and learn to read your shavings they yell you what you are really doing opposite what “you think you are doing”. Paul is what a teacher should look like.
I have seen the camber idea suggested, but many feel the jointer plane is probably the one plane where you should sharpen the iron without a camber.The suggestions regarding grip are good-loose grip with the right hand, just pushing forward. The left hand grip is as Paul demonstrates, thumb on top of the plane and finger riding the face of the board. It is when your arms are stretched straight out in front of you that there is a normal rotation, tilting the plane.As you are thrusting forward, you are naturally canting the plane-some of this can be avoided by holding the arms at fairly constant angle and stepping forward, walking the plane down the board, not thrusting out too far in front of you and maintaining the constant angle.
Review Paul’s discussion starting at 3:40. He talks about relaxing the grip so you don’t loose sensitivity. The grip he uses at about 3:50 works well to insure you aren’t gripping too tightly. It also helps (IMO) your sense of squareness. Also, be cognizant of whether or not you are skewing the plane. (I’m talking about the plane in relation to the board, not the plane iron within the plane. I’m assuming you have already checked that for consistent depth.) You may be taking more off the left side due a skew combined with putting more pressure on the front knob. I’ve been getting better, but still find I have to watch myself as I plane. (No where near Paul’s level of just plane away and, “Oh look, it’s dead square…”)
I have the same problem, very frustrating 🙁 want to know Paul’s advice on this – really have to practise for 50 years?
Thank you Paul, as usual very high quality instruction. You make seem simple and doable.
Paul, thanks for the tip on clamps loosening up overnight for those of us in Arizona. I noticed that glue dries really fast here too!
Might struggle to flex the sole of my Clifton plane. I will have to remember my spinach the night before.
You may be surprised at just how easily and how much they do flex. Try testing flex like this: https://paulsellers.com/2012/02/plane-soles-should-be-mostly-flat/
Thanks Paul. This is great. I made floating panels and they were thin. I didn’t do so well with my No. 4 Stanley and the thin panels. Would you do to, let’s say, 3/4″ pieces and then use a scrub plane to get to the thin thickness? I planed some after I glued, but because I planed, still thin pieces, I had 2 problems: 1) hard to clamp thin pieces, and 2) my jointing was the best.
Correction: 2) my jointing was NOT the best because of the thin boards. I didn’t want to waste so much wood planing but I think I should have done the lamination first, and then planing a LOT of material using my scrub plane.
Paul’s technique will work fine on thin panels. Don’t use clamps on the joint. Clamp two straight edges to your bench a bit wider than the panel and use opposing wedges along one edge to supply pressure to the edge. If the joint starts to rise, put a weight on it.
I saw a very instructive video of someone correcting out of square problems by just putting the plane off center on the edge depending on the ‘high’ side. Literally just a few strokes got it all evened out. The more weight on one side took a marginally thicker shaving on the side the plane was off centered.
He typically used the ‘pinch the nose’ method to have his index guide the plane. Where the edge is already square, just center the plane. You can even offcenter to different sides on one continuous stroke.
Obviously I had to try it, and for me it definitely helped a lot…
Don’t have the link right now but I’ll try to find it if I can.
I wonder is this the video you are thinking of?
He uses a #5 1/2 I think with a cambered iron and moves the plane so that the centre is over the high side
Yep that’s the one…
Works for me just as well with a straight iron.
Thank you Diego and Bill. Excellent video.
Thank you for always giving your best when making these videos Mr. Sellers!
You have been an inspiration to me and I have begun my adventure into hand tools from watching your workbench series on YouTube.
Keep up the amazing service you provide this community.
Paul, I’ve seen articles about spring joints, where you plane the edges with a slight concave. This is supposed to force the ends together more and make a stronger joint. I wonder about this. It seems like it would put more stress on that center part to pull apart eventually. Any thoughts?
I was about to ask the same question.
And thanks, Paul, for the excellent video explanation.
Paul, please let me echo all of the positive feedback regarding your videos they are highly informative and easy to understand.But if I may, I have a question that is completely off subject. When I see you adjust a plane the brass knob behind the frog seems to spin so easily. when I do it , the knob turns freely for a turn or two and then gets very hard to move.What am I doing wrong? I have a friend who is a professional furniture maker. He works by hand, much the way that you do, but I’m embarrassed to ask him because it seems like such a dumb question. I have read the articles and watched the videos and no one seems to address this particular question. Any suggestions?
What you are experiencing is entirely normal. You are taking up the backlash on the wheel for the first couple of turns, and when it becomes stiffer you are advancing the blade. Similarly, when you retract the blade, the wheel will rotate freely for a couple of turns as you take up the slack and then become stiffer as you retract the blade.
Here is a link to Veritas’ instructions for their #4 plane. You may like to read the paragraph “Backlash and How to Avoid It.”
Thanks for the link, RL. 🙂
Thanks Paul. I learnt woodworking formally 47 years ago, and returned to it using my hand tools after seeing your videos. In those days I used wooden planes without chip breakers and just a couple of sharp chisels and saws. If I practice at it again – yes, practice makes perfect – I may even find my forgotten abilities. You are surely an inspiration.
Just one question. The Stanleys I have do an almost decent job. Do you use special plane irons? I spent a decent amount of time tuning my planes, but the irons seem to dull quickly.
Thanks for clearing up a lot of things about edge jointing for me. On another note, are you the one providing the guitar accompaniment for each class?
Ronnie J. Berthelot
Wonderful Video, Mr. Sellers.
I notice that you mentioned that you may fill that know with epoxy. I have been looking for information about hot to fill things like that or just heavy oak grain with period specific materials. Can you tell me what they might have used in the 17th or 18th centuries to fill such things?
I’ve used shellac sticks ,”burn in sticks” for this application.
Easy to do. These are supplied as a solid bar of shellac in various tints to match or contrast with the wood you’re using.
They’re simply melted into the crack or void, filled slightly proud of the surface and leveled after cooling.
So many extra videos recently! thanks for all of these. very very helpful as always.
Very timely and helpful for me now and I imagine for others too. As I edge joint and square up the edges of my glued-up bench top laminations. Bravo for these Tool and Technique videos! Thanks again for adding all these technique videos. Learning a ton!
Thanks for this Paul another very interesting video. I usually use a #6 for 3′ + to 4′ + and my #7 for anything longer. One thing I learned which I was not aware of was “Flexing”, great tip.
Thanks Paul !
Since i have seen the first of your videos on youtube with handplanes i bought some cheaper planes and i use them more and more. I setted them up, sharpened the blades and i really enjoy the working with. Now again i’ve learned something new. Thank you Mr. Sellers!
Paul, I noticed your hollow-bar clamps are filled with a piece of wood to stiffen them. I like that . Great tip!
May be you like to read this: https://paulsellers.com/2011/11/4473/
What are your thoughts on planing a hollow into the center to compensate for contraction of the wood at the ends?
Whether you plane in a hollow or simply plane straight, the end result is the same in that the wood stretches with shrinkage and expansion, which means it has a measure of elasticity that allows the wood to do this. In other words it expands and contracts without necessarily splitting or cracking or in any way showing the expansion and contraction. The only time you get real splitting in a bad way is in severe exchanges of atmospheric moisture as I used to experience between the coastal cities of east Texas like Houston and say Odessa in West Texas which is dessert like. Here in the UK it remains pretty constant. If I were in some parts of the world where there are high and low moisture levels or severe changes in the seasons I would keep the wood close to its final destination for a season to let it acclimate. there are no guarantees but at least you have taken the steps.
Thanks again Paul for the instructions. It is amazing how much information is in one of these short videos. I’ve watched it three times now and have picked out something new each time. Maybe I am just a slow learner but it’s worth watching again…:-)
I think the reason for planing a spring joint (ie slightly concave) was not to deal with wood movement, but rather to assist in clamping. If you clamped the middle flush there would be pressure on the ends, and you would need fewer clamps.
It seems to me that the center of the joint would have a built in tendency to pull apart, and would be more prone to failure.
Once again I appreciate the simple approach you use to help us understand the basics of using our hand planes. I can’t wait to get out in to the shop so I can put these techniques into practice. Take care.
I need to watch this a couple of more times to be sure I get it all. Thanks for this, and all the other, videos.
About jointing boards, if the boards are more than three or four feet long, I drag out Ole’ Bessie, my No. 8. No. 8’s are so massive, you really only need to push them, with a little bit of a thumb or finger around the knob, and the rest of your fingers trailing along the wood face. Seems like it rarely takes more than a couple of passes before being ready to glue.
I just love my 1892 Stanley No. 8!
True True I use my 8 in a similar fashion. Honestly for all stock prep. I understand why folks would complain about fatigue in larger planes, but the weight can work for you….so long as you have developed a feel for it.
Thanks Paul and crew.
I have the 7 DVD set and book “Working Wood” which I am plugging away at and enjoying very much – I wish I had seen it before I started buying tools I would have saved a lot of money!
I have a difficult project that is still niggling me and is one of the reasons I started in hand tools in the first place as the timber is too big and heavy for all but the most massive machines but I have been afraid to approach it until my skills improve.
I was wondering how I would joint very thick hardwood stock – much wider than the jointer plane’s blade when doubled up together (40mm thick Jarrah at 2300mm long and 170mm wide… the finished desk will probably weigh as much as a Landrover!)
I have an old pergola I have roughly thicknessed and plan to make into a desk with beefy dovetailed waterfall sides (like a workbench joint). I am lucky enough to have the Veritas jointer with 25 degree bevel.
I’d like to see a video on setting up a plane,I’ve seen your sharpening one and others like it but no one spends time on assembling the iron back into the plane,adjusting the depth,using the lateral adjustment,placing the iron back on the frog adjustment, all the way up when placing the iron back? in or all the way down,etc
Great video Paul.
I’m currently trying to joint 8/4 maple in 3′ lengths to make a 24″x32″ butcher block countertop for my parents. I’m having a hard time jointing to have perfect flat joints. I’m using a woodriver 5 1/2 plane. It’s wide but not wide enough to cover the width of match joining you are covering. What is the best way for me to get seamless joints? Will this method be the best for me? by the way I’m face jointing, this will be a edge grain butcher block. I’m looking at roughly just over a 3″ surface with 2 pieces clamped together like you are doing in video.
Paul, you explain how twisting the plane enables cutting the ends of the planks, but not why it does so? I can see it skewing the cut (away from 90) but how does it enable omitting planing the centre of the board (to close the central gap) please?
Thank You Paul,
Enjoy your instruction as always.
For some folks having trouble using your plane on an edge just keep practicing, Ive been making sawdust for about 5 months, cant believe how much better I use my hand saws, the frame saw is my go to saw now, I have a Joinery/Rip Blade in 9tpi, its sharp, and I love it. I use a Lie Nielson Jack Plane for everything I’m doing, Just made a couple of rails for a bench build and My Tenons came out really nice, too the extra time to make perfect knife walls, I may be removing too much material when I cut the cheeks, and the sides, going to have my projects in Highland Woodworking Online Magazine,
Work Safe All