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Hand Plane Question


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Hello. I have a stanley block plane. It works great. I used it to plane some 8/4 rough sawn walnut into a body blank for a les paul. Worked like a charm. Now, I bought some supposedly "figured" walnut and maple, and on both of those woods, when I try to use the hand plane, it makes a VERY ROUGH cut into the wood, leaving the wood looking something like how router tear out looks. What's the deal? Is it harder to plane figured woods? I tried it again on a regular piece of walnut and it worked fine. I am confused!!

Let me know if you would like pics, but I think i described it pretty well!

Thanks,

J

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Yes, it's tearout. It's a nasty little problem with all figured wood. All the pretty variation in grain makes it very unstable and hard to work. To avoid tearout you really need to get a NICE plane. Adjustable throats help a lot. The best setup I've found is a VERY sharp blade with a very fine cut and a tight throat. It takes longer to plane much, but it cuts down on tearout considerably. Someone with more experience than me will probably weigh in with something better, though.

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Devon is right on about using a very very sharp iron (blade) and light cut. You can plane just about anything like that. I have a low angle stanley block plane that works great. The only catch is you have to keep it sharp. This is an art in itself and is worth learning.

I usually hone my iron after ~10 min of constant use. You can tell the iron is dull when set for a fine cut, it won't shave anything off. Then you expose some more blade and POW... tearout (or the blade will 'skip' across the wood). You want to plane the wood so you can see through the shavings when held up to light.

Good luck, Hope this helps.

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Thanks guys... I ended up figuring this out yesterday by trial and error! Your advice was really helpful though. I thought I was just doing something wrong.. I am glad (not really) that it is a common problem and I am not just crazy!

J

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