Will I enjoy planing more with a bevel-down plane?

Question:

Hi Paul,

Your answer left me still wanting for more. I hoped that in your answer to question from Blaz I would see something that would make it clear to me. Sometimes a view from another perspective is all that’s needed. And my situation is the following. I never held a good BD plane in my hands but I have a few decent BU planes from Veritas. With those I was able to build tablesaw stand from pine and workbench from beech. My sharpening skills are doubtful as well. I just had the will to make it done one way or another to get me started. While planing, I’ve got tear outs from time to time with BU plane and 37 cutting angle. Then I’ve got another plane with cutting angle 50 and that resulted in much less tear out.

Now, from what you wrote in the blog and here in comments I conclude the following. Most of the time BD plane perform better than BU plane and I assume that is for long grain. Does it mean that if I trade my BU with cutting angle 45 or 50 to a BD plane I would enjoy planing board’s surfaces even more? (And of courser the whole point is to know that before buying BD plane and trying it myself.)

(Cutting angle for me means the sum of bed angle and bevel angle, like 12 bed and 38 bevel angle results in 50 cutting angle in BU plane).

Thanks for all the useful information I’ve got from your blog and videos and it was plenty!

Answer:

In short, I wouldn’t necessarily trade the planes you have, but, yes you will find bevel down planes more productive and practical than BU planes on the whole. That should make it more enjoyable.

P1120334

Two of my favourite planes.

Now then, in my view the accuracy in the bevel angle has become more compulsive with some woodworkers and perhaps even a pastime for some of late. Having been around for a couple of hundred years with nothing much new about them, bevels to cutting irons only start  to really make a difference when you discuss an alternative use to what bevel up planes were originally developed for and that was shooting mitres and square ends when the planes were used together with shooting boards. Because the wood didn’t change its character, and in those former centuries our forebears saw that the BU planes did indeed often tear the surface grain a lot of the time, they never saw them as particularly progressive as bench planes. It was for this reason that they didn’t see them as replacements to the true bench planes, which remained the case for four centuries. That being fact, and with the additional fact that the forebears of woodworking reserved such planes primarily for the more limited functions that chop saws have pretty much rendered obsolete, it seems that makers of planes have endeavouring to reclassify something old by renaming it. So why not just rename them bevel-up bench planes ?

These BU planes are good but also still as limited as they always were and that’s because adding a couple of adjusters didn’t alter the wood the planes work. It’s the wood and the way the grain grows that dictates certain facts rather than the way of the working furnituremaker and woodworker. But that’s just an opinion I have. Most of the advice about BU planes now originates with magazines, tool salesmen and manufacturers all of who manufacture information to sell something they make.

P1150254

I wonder who decided on 12-degree beds?

I believe that with a regular bevel-down plane of any type you can tackle all grain and that with a regular iron. You can add a poor man’s York pitch to the same iron by adding a micro back bevel to that iron or you can add a second iron and reserve it for that purpose. My question is why would anyone use a bevel up plane that generally only works for 50% of the work or less when a bevel down will do 98%? By the time you discover the need for a 50-degree pitch the damage is already done? The simple answer those of us field trained came to conclusion of is that torn grain is fixed with the #71 scraper or the card scraper in seconds because a bevel dow plane rarely tears anywhere near as much as the bevel-ups do.

There are no guarantees that a 50-degree pitch to BU planes will always resolve the issues but I have never had a surface that could not be resolved in seconds with the scraper.  Now I am not saying that bevel ups have no place. If you can afford one (and you want one) then get one.  Are they essential? Not really. Are they handy? They can be.

P1140456The bevel-up planes are more the luxury item but they are nice to have. If you buy a bevel-down plane that is restored, that is if it is old, or if it is new (and this includes all of the high-end planes), you will not be disappointed in its performance. I suggest you keep your bevel ups until you have bought yourself a bevel down, fettle it and take enough time to get used to it. If you don’t like it stick it back on eBay and you will get your money back. If you do you can’t lose.  Also,  I think it is important to remember that torn grain caused by a bevel up plane can usually be resolved by further planing with a bevel down every time.

Oh, by the way, I really like bevel up planes too.

 

37 Comments

  1. Jacob Hemstad on 3 November 2015 at 9:02 pm

    “My question is why would anyone use a bevel up plane that generally only works for 50% of the work or less when a bevel down will do 98%?”

    BU planes may have traditionally been used at a low-angle for shooting, but that doesn’t stop you from putting a higher angle on the iron so that the wood sees a 45-degree iron. At that point, the wood doesn’t know the difference between a bevel-up or bevel-down. So how can you say that BU planes only work for 50% of woodworking tasks?

    BU planes didn’t exist until the last 100 years or so because it’s impossible to make a wooden low-angle plane where the mounting surface for the iron won’t become so thin that it will break out. The reason they are even more prevalent in the last 10 or so years is because our metal casting and machining technology is much better.

    They are equivalent as far as the wood is concerned, and as you said, the wood hasn’t changed. You can argue all you’d like about whether or not a BU plane is worth the cost, but functionally they will perform the same tasks to an equal degree as any vintage metal plane. How could it not?



    • Paul Sellers on 3 November 2015 at 9:12 pm

      Actually that’s not really right but thanks for your input. The cast metal planes go back before that and many of them including the one shown had brass mouths to support behind the blade. As I said, I like bevel up planes, they just don’t do as well as bevel downs for most bench work in my experience
      .



  2. Jacob Hemstad on 3 November 2015 at 9:23 pm

    My numbers may have been off, but I think my general statement that technology has improved such that bevel-up planes are more feasible to produce remains true.

    I don’t dare question your experience and I fully believe that you are correct.

    I am, however, genuinely curious how a BU plane with the angle such that it meets the wood at 45 degrees could perform different than a BD plane? The physics are the same. Do you have any theories?



    • Paul Sellers on 3 November 2015 at 9:59 pm

      I can’t say much more than I have really. For me it has always been from my experience at the bench and on the actual projects I work on in the reality of daily life rather than picking a board and then sharpening a plane to highly engineered levels of sharpening to take three shavings at a woodworking show as a salesman selling a plane. Most info from scientific data will always prove anything someone wants to prove but I have experienced may types of problems surface planing wood with bevel up planes and then corrected the torn fibres with bevel down planes. It does seem strange I agree that everything seems to be closely parallel but over the past 50 years I have not found that bevel up planes have resolved a single issue beyond what they did throughout the last century and beyond. So I just enjoy them as another plane type and especially for shooting mitres, edge jointing boards and end grain. But I can still do all three with my regular BD planes I hasten to add. And also, let me say everyone is entitled to their opinion too, yours mine, they all have value for consideration.



  3. gblogswild on 3 November 2015 at 10:20 pm

    I haven’t been commenting much lately, but I’ve been reading.

    If it helps the questioner, I’ve found that Richard’s (what his last name!?! “The English Woodworker”) advice and explanation has helped me a great deal. In fact, the best advice I have received on any front concerning the working of wood has come from either him or Paul.

    I think the true answer to the question lies with the cap iron, aka chipbreaker. BU planes can’t have them. BD planes can have them snuck up to the edge so closely that the actual presentation angle to the wood becomes almost a moot point. The cap iron will bend the chip back on itself such that it will break and release its stored tension before it has a chance to pull any fibers out of the surface. With a double-iron BD plane with a cap iron properly set up, wood plane or metal – it doesn’t matter – you should rarely, if ever, see tearout. Even in construction pine.

    What little you might see you can scrape, as Paul mentioned. I hope that helps.



  4. Daniel on 3 November 2015 at 11:06 pm

    This is part of the politics of woodworking, sharpening, bench planes, saws…. People fall for one camp or the other there is no absolute correct answer on this subjects. The woodworkers I have talk to or whom I have read articles, books and blogs from have made up there minds on allot of this topics. Everyone most make a choice or not on the tool that they would like to work with. Throwing percentages with out any statistical data can be misleading. Bevel up planes are not as abundant as the Stanley line of bevel downs and there mouth tend to chip from use. If you are pinching penny’s than you might not have allot of options and you might want to go for the Plane Jane’s and add to your arsenal as you please. Bench Planes are a fascinating tool weather is bevel up or bevel down. People get plane fever, I can tell from the you tube videos that some people have gathered outrages amount of planes. Than chisel fever hits and then saw fever it goes on and on…. As a student of the craft and a woodworker I just love what woodworking contributes to my life. I also like the controversy because it keeps my mind open to others opinion and I keep learning.

    Thank You Paul.



  5. Blaz on 3 November 2015 at 11:08 pm

    I must say that I believe what Paul is saying.

    I think Paul likes his small BU smoothing plane because of its size and lightness and not because it is BU plane. It is very close to the size of #4 but a little smaller.

    Probably it is not so much about BU or BD blades. BU planes have a lower balance, they are simpler to set , and so on. BUs handle grain better, in some cases they can be adjusted while planing and so on.

    So perhaps BUs and BDs are just different. Better for some applications and poorer for other.

    For example I find small BU smoothing plane great for raised panels since it is so light and easy to hold at an angle. Its BU blade has nothing to do with that.

    I hope I made a constructive opinion.



  6. Jess on 3 November 2015 at 11:26 pm

    It seems like sharpening is simplified with Bevel Down Planes. Free hand sharpening when necessary and not worrying about the angle until it is too steep is much better than fusing with the Bevel Up Iron angle. Just a thought. I’m no expert by any means.



  7. Peter Manuel on 4 November 2015 at 12:10 am

    I have found the Bevel up or down discussion interesting. Since 1946 I have never considered Bevel up as practical. I use chisels, gouges, and turning tool with Bevel down therefore planes with Bevel down gives me the results I am looking for. That is a result that does not need sanding before finishing with Oil or French polish



  8. paul6000000 on 4 November 2015 at 12:57 am

    I’ll just chime in to agree with Paul. My first nice plane was the Veritas low angle jack and I loved it, mostly for doing narrow pieces and for shooting ends but I also used it for dimensioning pine and smoothing. I found and that with a high angle micro bevel, it worked really great on curly wood too. Over time though, I’ve been using it less and less. Firstly, it’s way heavier than a #4, which I’ve found works just as well on curly wood when the cap iron is set close and the blade is sharp. Lastly, you can’t really put much of a camber on a bevel up plane, so dimensioning rough figured hardwood is nearly impossible. They sell a serrated blade for the low angle jack but pushing a wide blade like that is exhausting work. A cambered bevel down plane takes SO much less effort. While the LAJ is wonderful for shooting and is nice to have, my bevel down planes are indispensable.



  9. John Schettle on 4 November 2015 at 1:05 am

    My experience, albeit miniscule compared to Paul, has also been to have more severe tearout with the BU. After considerable thought, I believe the reasons are as follows:
    1. When sharpening there an unintended difference to the very slight curvature of the bevel side as opposed to the long flat back side after honing wherein the bevel side is affected more.
    2. The “chip breaker” on a power planer breaks the waste into small chips so as to not clog the cutter head. The “chip breaker” on the BD hand plane serves two functions. Firstly, it guides the curling ribbon of waste out of the throat. Secondly, and which I feel is more important, the “chip breaker” functions to prestress the blade after the 1/32″ projection of the blade beyond the “chip breaker”. At this point the blade and ” chip breaker” act in unison to effectively function as a much thicker unit wherein vibration and chatter are be reduced.
    If the reasons above are true, then there is a difference in the physics, more than just angles of attack by the blade on the wood, between the BU versus BD Finish hand plane.



  10. Andy Havard on 4 November 2015 at 5:13 am

    Well I have to agree with Paul. I was mislead by ads and bought the BU with three blades to handle “everything” then got a righthand shooting plane. This was high end stuff from Canada. The smoothing plane was ok and the shooting was great as long as it was square stock that could be flip to work with plane. Then I stumbled on to some of Pauls youtube videos. Well now I can shoot any board with a number 3, 4, 5 or 6 as well as I could with the dedicated shoothing plane except that I can flip the plane to go “lefthanded” as well. As far as the BU’s I was able to trade them off for a couple backsaws and some odds and ends. It was an expensive lesson to learn, but for me it was worth it to remove all doubt as to what I should use. The adjuster wheel on my old stanleys may have a little play in them but beging able to micro adjust on the fly if great. Also sharping is much eaiser and faster.



  11. Ed on 4 November 2015 at 1:54 pm

    If a York pitch reduces tear out, why not use a York pitch all the time?



    • Paul Sellers on 4 November 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Because it generally doesn’t work the wood as well as a lower pitch of 45-degrees and it is more difficult to sharpen at a steeper pitch, especially if you freehand.



  12. Derek Long on 4 November 2015 at 4:13 pm

    My LV Low Angle Jack is great, until it isn’t. Then it is horrendous – big honking chunks of tearout. I never get that bad of tear with my BD planes, for whatever reason.



  13. Ash on 4 November 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I think that’s right. I had wondered myself why there would be a difference between bevel-up and bevel-down when (theoretically at least) the iron meets the wood at a 45 degree angle in both. But the chip-breaker especially seems significant.

    To which I would add, after some thought:

    (3) most bevel-up planes demand four fingers wrapped around the handle, because there is no frog/iron/lever cap to brace the extended forefinger against. That leads to less sensitivity to what the plane is doing (because all the vibrations of the plane body have to pass through the comparatively soft handle, rather than beings sensed directly by the finger on the iron as with the three-finger grip), which in turn means that the user compensates by gripping the handle more tightly and pushing the plane more forcefully, which means that more tear-out happens before the user can compensate and avoid it.

    (4) the blade of a bevel-up plane by definition has no camber (as the commenter above said), and likely no relieved corners either, which means more force needs to be applied to the plane, and a greater width of iron being pulled down deeper into the wood with every stroke.



    • Ash on 4 November 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Sorry, comment above was in response to John Schettle’s comment.



    • Paul Sellers on 4 November 2015 at 9:07 pm

      The cap iron has much more influence on the cutting dynamic than just that (chip breaker is a US term for some reason) I have found. Also, the bevel up planes do have a nice spot for the forefinger right on the side of the tensioning knob and that works as well as the BD planes for me. Oh, and you can camber a BU plane just fine too. Just sayin.



  14. Paul on 4 November 2015 at 10:26 pm

    Here’s some uninformed thoughts from a raw beginner.
    I saw some debate about bevel up planes but ignored it because a) I didn’t want to fret over bevel angles, b) I wanted to buy cheap traditional bench planes from ebay that Paul had shown me how to sharpen easily, and c) I just wanted to make some stuff.
    Guess what, it worked. Of course sometimes wood tears out; first I try turning it around, then a cabinet scraper. Occasionally, mea culpa, a bit of sandpaper.
    But 90% of the time or more a basic handplane, spokeshave etc gets me there and I make stuff.
    Perhaps when I have made all the stuff that is in my head I can start obsessing about bevel angles and cambers and materials but mostly this sort of debate just serves to keep me from my bench.



  15. Ed on 5 November 2015 at 3:58 am

    The reply about York pitch really helped. The lesson is that a low cutting angle shears easily and gives a nice surface *but* if it hits a bit of rising grain it tends to pluck it up and give horrible tear out. At the other extreme, York pitch is moving towards acting somewhat like a scraper, so it less likely to pluck up fibers and tear out, but you’re generally going to get a fuzzier, less perfect surface. Forty-five degrees or thereabouts is the sweet spot that trades off between these two. Add in some sensitivity and skill and maybe an occasional micro back bevel, and you’ll accomplish just about everything. The exception is end grain where you can’t pluck up fibers and then the low angle wins (if you don’t fracture the edge).



  16. Christopher Mitchell on 5 November 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Ok den so If I understand this correct , Your saying that you like BD Planes, and.. Lb for Lb its the best money for your buy> Do you have a preference as in say a Vintage Stanley #4 from the WW1 era or during WWII era? and why do like the one you do better. I ask cause I tend to like the early 1900’s If you get a decent one. But thats just me. I dont care for that sometimes you get one that the Lever cap slides up and wants to slip out.
    But I know a fix for that. Some might see as a bad thing but its easy to fix.But I havent used them long enough to know any better. so i’m curious..> I know you have used them all I’m sure and could shed some light on the subject If you get the time no worries.. Thanks Paul.
    Chris



    • Paul Sellers on 6 November 2015 at 11:03 am

      I use all of them at different times because we use about twenty different ones from different eras in the school and I like them all so I really don’t have a preference. i do prefer older stanleys and records to new planes I will say that though. I kinda like the edges knocked off them and I like that with the high-end planes too so I always take a file to Cliftons and Lie Nielsens and Veritas and Jummas to make them feel more appropriate to the work otherwise they are rigidly too hard on the wood.



  17. Michael Lew on 6 November 2015 at 5:18 am

    The bevel down plane can have a cap iron that the bevel up plane cannot. That probably makes the difference.



  18. Joshua Currie on 9 November 2015 at 2:20 am

    The difference is in the cap iron, there is a video on YouTube by some Japanese woodworkers that shows the difference a cap iron makes. It shows that a bevel down will tear out less than a bevel up if both set to 45°, I don’t think this point can be argued. Also the bevel down offered adjustability on the fly. It really annoys me to read an article by Chris Swartz about how he “hates chip breakers or cap irons or whatever you want to call them” because he believes they cause most problems associated with planing. I think Chris and Paul need to have a sit down and have a very serious talk.



    • Jason on 7 February 2017 at 9:58 am

      Update: Schwarz has changed his opinion.



  19. Joshua Currie on 9 November 2015 at 2:22 am

    The biggest difference I see is the absence of a cap iron in the bevel up planes, the cap iron if any of you have watched the video on YouTube by some Japanese woodworkers really makes a difference to the fracturing and lifting of the grain left after cutting. This video shows clearly that a bevel up plane set at 45 ° will tear out more than a bevel down set at 45°. I also like the adjustability of the bevel down planes, I’m able to adjust on the fly unlike a bevel up. It really annoys me to read people like Chris Swartz write about how he “hates chip breakers or cap irons, or whatever you want to call them” because he believes them to be the cause of many planing problems, when in fact they are the reason bevel down planes perform better than bevel up planes in most cases. As a note to Paul, please don’t read Chris Swartz’s article it may cause you to book a flight to go straighten a few things out.



  20. Christopher mitchell on 9 November 2015 at 4:46 pm

    I’m pretty certain that Chris knows the difference between the BU & BD planes. There are these things called sponsors that pay for woodworkers with higher than usual profiles to advertise for them.
    I’m not 100% sure of anything except of that.
    But you can get your BU planes to work a little better by modifying your lever cap to get it closer to the cutting edge of the iron. Also you can lap the underside of the lever cap to make sure you have a solid contact between it and the iron . This certainly helps but in no way does it out perform the BD Bench Planes. But they do have there place. I would imagine that Paul could build pretty much anything with a #4 , a bow saw and a small handful of chisels. I thought for a long time that I needed all these different Planes just to do certain jobs but Paul has now shown me differently. Even with knowledge you still have to practice. Like learning to play the guitar you can know all the chords but without practice it really doesn’t sound that great.
    My problem I’m having is that Im screwing up to many projects trying to practice. And it seems to me that the more projects that I can’t complete the more frustrating I get and self doubt is taking its toll on me. And now I find myself not wanting to even start a new project until I can hand cut joinery. I wonder if there is some exercises that we can do on a daily basis to speed up the practicing process? And without burning up expensive lumber. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all in an apprenticeship program with a Master woodworker. Who could hit our backs with a ruler when we’re loafing about or doing something incorrectly. It would be so nice if I had someone that help in this manner. I wonder if this is even possible to do online?
    It probably would take up to much of the teachers time and therefore not practical.
    Cheers



    • Paul Sellers on 9 November 2015 at 5:24 pm

      I have seen every apprentice I ever had progress rapidly to a high level of competent workmanship within 12 weeks if:
      1: They did not go to college or university for woodworking first.
      2: Were prepared to put in 40 hours a week at the bench.
      3: Not practice beyond a very basic level.
      4: Listen to instruction.
      5: Receive correction without curling their lip.
      6: Kept a right attitude in the face of failure.
      7: Learn to sharpen their tools and put in the time mastering techniques on a daily basis.
      8: Always sharpen their tools in time.
      9: Never see machines as a mark of maturity.
      10: Write down information and instruction received.
      11: Always admit a failure even if it will never be found out.
      12: Study.
      13: Learn technical drawing.
      14: Learn perspective sketching and drawing.
      15: Give up computer games for at least a season.
      16: Trade off watching TV for work.
      17: Ask questions even of they seem stupid.
      There are more but these are the basics.



      • Mike Bullock on 13 January 2017 at 7:30 pm

        As a developing hobbyist woodworker, I find the greatest challenge to be the amount of time I’m able to spend actually working with the tools and the wood. Paul says it takes 40 hours at the beach every week for 12 weeks to raise up an apprentice to competency. This implies 480 hours of learning. As a part time hobbyist I may get to invest 5-6 hours a week on average around other commitments and responsibilities. This turns those 12 weeks into 80 weeks- about a year and a half! It’s actually even a bit tougher than that because I expect you learn and progress faster in the early stages of any craft if you have extended, concentrated time to apply to learning. I bought my first no. 5 Stanley in January of 2016 and a no 4 the next month. This implies I have another half year to achieve that high level of competency that Paul talks about. This squares with how things feel to me. Over the past year, I’ve started to become competent with different things, but still have many gaps. Having great resources online has helped tremendously.



  21. Christopher Mitchell on 9 November 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Hello Paul, I meet all the criteria that you have laid out.above. so What do I need to do on #7. I can sharpen my tools except my saws. For the moment I have someone that has been restoring all my Vintage saws. So they wont need sharpening for a while yet.
    Should I just use some cheap wood and start working cutting Mortise and Tenons and Dovetails or what would you have your apprentice do? Thank You
    Chris.



  22. Jonathan Wright on 11 November 2015 at 1:22 am

    I’m a long time admirer of Paul’s teachings, but the one area I disagree with him is in his preference of BD planes. As a Canadian, I supported the company Veritas and bought BU planes when I got into woodworking, and as such learned hand planing in that manner. 10 years later, when I started reading Paul’s writings, I tried giving BD planes a go, and just couldn’t get the feel for them.
    A couple things that are worth mentioning in favour of BU planes: it’s much quicker and simpler to remove and reinstall the blades (speeding sharpening), and with a sharp 50 degree blade for an attack angle of 62, I never need to use a scraper- indeed I find the surface much cleaner than any scraper I’ve used (but I admit that I can never get any scraper to sing like Paul does.).
    As Paul loves his Stanley #4, I love my Veritas BU jack plane. It shoots, and face planes with equal ease in even the gnarliest of reversing grains.
    Just another voice in the endless sea of woodworking! Just have fun is what it all comes down to.
    (I freehand sharpen these blades and have no problem with their thicker irons.)



  23. Offshore Organbuilder on 16 November 2015 at 11:01 am

    In other words, ‘Take the job, seriously.’!
    Very true.



  24. Andrey Kharitonkin on 16 November 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you! And thanks Paul and others. That was actually my question on the top there 🙂 Didn’t know it would receive such high treatment and be answered separately and thus only discovered it today.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been indeed sleeping in Richard’s blog and premium videos, digesting information and admiring his work. They both, Paul and Richard are my greatest teachers so far, I totally agree on that! Another source that I found helpful is research of chipbreaker effect done with blade, chipbreaker and wood, all filmed through microscope by some Japanese professor. Derek Cohen also illustrated interesting and surprising aspects and I got helpful comments from him as well. Sorry Paul, I’m probably trying too much on the theoretical side than you would in my place… I’m happened to be a scientist (chemistry and computer science) and thus I’m taking it so seriously and it’s not been easy. I guess we are what we are.

    So, what I’ve got from all this? I think I’ll keep my BU planes and continue to master them. But I will put BD plane on my tools-to-get list in the nearest future as well. Was thinking already about Veritas custom bench plane #4 or #4-1/2. Lower center of mass and technological advances all look very promising from theoretical point of view (again). But I will not be in the hurry.

    It is a real pleasure to me to talk with such craftsmen as you all, as much as woodworking itself! Very excited!



  25. Andrey Kharitonkin on 16 November 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Joshua, we can continue to discuss theoretical aspects of chipbreaker. One question that I have in this respect is thickness of the shavings. With my BU planes I can make very fine shavings that is tearout-free. However, that is very slow if considerable amount of material has to be shaved off. So, the question is would BD plane with chipbreaker take thicker shavings than BU that is still tearout-free? And if in some conditions they are can happen to be comparable, which one is easier to push then? Does it depend on angle at which chipbreaker meets back of the iron?

    I would like to note one thing. The difference between practical knowledge as of great craftsman and technology that comes from a theory is that to repeat what craftsman do you need to watch him and practice for several years to get it right 🙂 And so, explaining reproducible theory works better over internet… or watch Paul on Youtube!



  26. Yong Su on 23 November 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Practically, I see:

    1. The craftsman mostly uses chisel bevel down to shaping a piece of wood.
    2. The cut blade of a marking gauge is beveled toward the fence.
    3. Bevel up plane works good with end grain with a shooting board.

    All these agrees with the physics of a beveled cutting edge: the force on the bevel will move the cutting edge toward the flat side.



    • Paul Sellers on 23 November 2015 at 7:14 pm

      I understand the physics but not the applications in what you say because generally:
      1. The craftsperson uses the chisel equally bevel up and bevel down depending on the work type. At least I do and most of the men I ever worked with and under.
      2. The cutting blades of must gauges used to cut have reversible blades that can be alternated according to task and so work both ways.
      3. The incline of the meeting bevel of BU planes and the flat face of BD plane irons are often identical or within one or two degrees but sometimes the difference is greater. I think that most people agree that 37-degrees is about the lowest combined angle of bevel and bed on BU planes. So, there may be 7-8 degrees between bU and BD but then 25-degrees is a very weak and impractical bevel angle in my view and one that needs constant work to maintain. That being so, mostly we sharpen at 30 to 35 degrees and so, as I said, the bevel presentation can be more than BD plane. If you had planes of equal weight, equal blade thickness and equal bevel angle then I think both planes would be more equal than different for the task. My main concern is the new dogma that everyone must buy very expensive planes to plane endgrain when a number 4 does just great, a number 4 1/2 adds a little more weight if you like weight and a number 5 gives both added weight and length. Problem solved at a fraction of the cost. These are just practical solutions. I do appreciate your input and hope these things help too.



  27. Yong Su on 25 November 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Thank you very much for the clarification. I am really honored to have your so detailed reply to my unthoughtful rambling. I agree with you totally. I just want to share my limited experience on this great web platform.

    1. My experience on chisel comes mostly from making bow saws and watching other craftsman does so. Here is a picture of the first bow saw I made by imitating a Chinese craftsman:

    http://pic.zuojiaju.com/forum/201310/22/230534rjbg098ztkqkt8pk.jpg

    In shaping the handle of the saws with a chisel, I find that I should mostly use the chisel bevel down to avoid digging into the wood and to remove the waste carefully. I am sure I will have other work type in the future to use bevel up to remove waste faster.

    2. I like the simplicity of a marking gauge made with nails. Here is a picture of the first one I made:

    http://pic.zuojiaju.com/forum/201308/29/024805chxs1hq1h70i6k1g.jpg

    But this one does not work so well. Recently, I try to improve it by replacing nails with Allen wrenches. Now comes the question of how to make the cutting edge at the bend of the Allen wrench. By watching the same Chinese craftsman’s video, I find his marking gauge bevel is facing the fence. I also read Mr. Toshio Odate’s book: `Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit and Use’. On page 23, the first sentence reads:

    “The blade of the suji-keshiki(line-making gauge) is beveled on one side to form the cutting edge, and that side usually faces the fence; as blade cuts, the bevel keeps pulling the fence into the edge of the wood.”

    After changing my Allen wrench gauge’s bevel facing the fence, I find it does work better. I am sure in the future I will have other task to avoid the bevel to crash the fiber.

    3. The tendency of bevel up plane’s digging into the wood seems to hold the tool against the fence of the shooting board better. Honestly, I do not have a bevel up plane. My rambling here is from the information in your post and deduction from physics of single bevel cutting edge. I do follow your instruction to make a shooting board and have #4 and #5 planes. They prepare the remaining two sides of a wood stock very well.

    I shall say most of my woodworking skill is from watching your videos. I like the simplicity of your sharping method on plane blades, chisels and saws. Most my favorite woodworking tools are from your recommendation, Stanley #4 and #5 and ALDI chisel for example. I like tools and even more so to make them myself. Your videos and comments help me greatly on my endeavor. Thank you very much.