Planing Techniques

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 If you are a beginner, the following guide from our beginner site, Common Woodworking, may be useful to you:

I am struggling to get an even shaving/evenly thicknesses board. Why?

People tend to bulldog the plane to the piece of wood with two fist grips. If you ease up on this and look how Paul holds his hands you should be able to feel after the shaving. It is also worth considering the thickness of shaving you are taking off if you are ending up with an unevenly thicknessed board.

As far as planing action is concerned you may be pushing down on the nose of the plane at the end of the stroke. As the start of the stroke, you should be registering the nose of the plane and put more weight on the front of the plane. Then as you go through the stroke you transfer the pressure so that by the end of the stroke you are pushing down more on the rear hand. However, you should not be pressing down too hard to take a shaving, it is merely where the pressure is applied.

Why am I getting grooves and ridges when planing?

Grooves and ridges in the wood can be caused by a number of issues. To name a few; a mis-set plane, a nick in the blade, a nick in the sole, and non-continuous rounding on the corner of the blade. Have a look at the following video to see the process Paul goes through when preparing a plane for use:

How do I avoid getting marks at the end of my plane stroke?

What causes tearout?

Tearout is usually caused by plaining against the grain, whether that be where the grain is consistent all across the board or where there are areas of reverse or rising grain. Sometimes tearing out this grain can be avoided by reading the grain accurately and going in with a shallow set where you expect problems, but not always.

How do I deal with tough or reverse grain?

Here a couple of things that might help apart from making sure your plane is sharp and set. You can try planing the board at an angle, anything from 45 to 90 degrees of what you would normally, especially when planing to thickness.

Make sure you plane is taken a very fine shaving and push some shavings into the mouth of the plane from the top as you take a shaving. This stops the grain from having anywhere to break out to.

Also, you might want to try sharpening your plane to a York pitch, or doing this with a spare iron if you have one. Paul describe how to do this here:

The other method which I would probably revert to as soon as I saw there was troublesome grain, is to use the No.80 cabinet scraper, although that would be to get a smooth even surface, not for getting the board to thickness. The card or cabinet scraper don’t work very well with soft woods.

What is the process for planing longer pieces?

If you are planing longer boards, you start at the far end of the board and work backwards. At the end of each stroke you need to slightly lift the heel of the plane with you dominant hand which acts to feather the stroke so it doesn’t leave a mark.

What is the process for planing my stock?

See the stock preparation section.