Using Hand Planes

how to use a plane

Operating a plane uses a blade advancing mechanism for depth of cut and a right-left tilt for making the cutting edge straight.  Older planes often offer better positive control than newer planes.The hand plane it can pare off just a thin slice of wood, it is the best tool for shaving the edge of a over-sized board, straightening warped lumber, smoothing a rough piece of timber, or chamfering the corner of a board. Most carpenters still keep a few plane around ever if it is only for special purpose or designs. 



How a Plane Works

To understand the basic anatomy of a hand plane and to introduce the functions of this versatile tool. What if you were offered a new woodworking tool that was capable of accuracy within a thousandth of an inch? Not only that, while most tools have only one function, this amazing cordless device would handle three important tasks.  Before machines, woodworkers relied on special-purpose planes for almost everything. Today we can turn to jointers, thickness planers, shapers, and routers for the hard work of flattening, dimensioning, and shaping. We still rely on the plane to remove machine marks and to bring parts into perfect alignment, in .001-inch steps. The plane remains the only tool we have that can reliably deliver this degree of accuracy.


Fettling a Plane

To understand the basics of preparing a bench plane for use. When you first bring your plane home, the chances are good that it needs to have a few simple steps performed to ensure that it is ready to cut at peak performance.   Whether you buy old or new, it's almost certain that you will have some work on every plane - clean it up, modify it, tweak it or adjust it. The old term for these activities is "fettling," and it's the source of the expression "he's in fine fettle," for someone at the top of his game. The good news is that it's a rare old plane that can't be renovated to perform well. The bad news is that new planes need fettling as much as old ones.


Using a Bench Plane

To understand the basics of using a bench plane. When you use a bench plane properly, it is a whole body experience. Using a plane is not hard to master, but does take practice. Planing wood is a whole-body exercise. Whether you are planing a face, an edge, or end grain, the grip, stance and body position are similar. Before you start, lubricate the operation by rubbing a little paraffin wax into the sole.  The right hand grips the rear handle. It applies downward pressure and transmits the push that comes from your legs and body. The right thumb comes around and virtually traps the second finger. The right index finger doesn't wrap around the blade assembly; it tucks down into the casting of the frog. This grip creates a lot of control tension between the index and little fingers. If you wrap your index finger around the blade assembly, sooner or later you will move it.


Selecting a Bench Plane

To evaluate which bench planes a woodworker will need to be effective in the workshop. There are many types of bench planes on the market. Which ones does a woodworker need to get the job done? These lengths suit all occasions and can solve almost any furniture-making problem.  Sharpening convenience, leading to overall time savings, is the reason for choosing the 04-1/2 smoother over the 04. Its wide blade matches the one in the 07, allowing a woodworker to keep many identical blades that fit either tool (Ian Kirby keeps about 20 blades for his two planes). This allows a woodworker to swap dull blades for sharp ones without interruption in the planing process. Also more efficient is the opportunity to have one big sharpening session, to bring all the blades to a sharp and ready state.


Using a Scraping Plane


Make smoothing wood just plane simple. Sand less by tackling tricky wood grains with a scraping plane. Before sandpaper, craftsmen turned to a scraper when they needed a silky smooth surface. Today, scrapers still work wonders for taming wild wood grain, and provide you with a welcome break from the noise and dust of sanding. Unlike hand-held card scrapers, a scraping plane requires less effort, especially on large surfaces, and holds the blade at a consistent angle.  With the block as your angle guide, use a burnisher or the hardened shaft of a screwdriver or chisel to roll the burr. Press firmly as you push or pull the burnisher from the center to one edge while simultaneously sliding it diagonally, as shown at right. Then slide the burnisher from the center to the opposite edge. Repeat until you feel an even burr form as the sharp edge rolls over.


Planes for the Beginner

I know you talk about planes a lot and I was wondering what planes you would recommend for beginners with a small budget? When it comes to hand planes, the first thing I always recommend to listeners is they should invest in a good, quality block plane. This tool is invaluable whether you’re a power tool junkie or a hand tool user. I prefer a low angle model vs the standard angle, but either will give you pretty much the same results once the blade is sharpened. When it comes to larger bench planes, I recommend either starting with a No.5 (Jack) Plane (pictured right) or a No.4 (smoother). These are the two most common models of planes you’ll be using anyways so it’s a good start. In fact I’d recommend starting with the No.5 since it can be tuned to act as a smoother until you can afford the No.4.


How To use a Hand Plane


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