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Using Hand Planes Vs. Power Tools


Bainzy
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When I first started getting into building guitars, I was quite confident that if I used hand planes I would wreck the job and avoided them like the plague. I had a Stanley #4, a small wooden smoothing plane and a massive wooden jointer plane that I inherited from my grandad who built boats - I had no idea how to really use them or set them up, and spent a while thinking of ways to avoid using planes such as buying a power jointer or building a router thicknessing jig. Now that I've been at it a while, I've since found a Stanley #3 in my other grandad's cellar (along with a quality oilstone), and bought a great Stanley #7 on ebay, and also figured out how to set up planes and sharpen the blades properly with oilstones and waterstones.

After making nice long, thin shavings as opposed to leaving dusty scratch marks on the surface of boards, I've had a plane epiphany of sorts, and really enjoy using them now. I love how easier the mess they leave is to clean up, and how much safer they are compared to using powered tools. What do you guys tend to prefer? Relying on power tools for ease of use and setup, or are you more eager to get out a hand plane to get a job done?

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Handplanes, where appropriate. Keep 'em sharp, and they're fun to use, and immensley satisfying. Add the fact freshly planed joints are best for all wood to wood gluing, and you've got a winner on your hands!

This said, I'm still going to build my router/thicknesser, but mostly because it's also going to be my neck jig. And I will build the thickness sander, because, well, high figured woods and planes do not always play nice, and while planing can be immensely satisfying, I have 15 meters fo 10" wide rough 8/4 Limba, and an equal amount of african mahogany to process, eventually, and I really, really don't feel like doing all of that with hand tools.

Almost all my joinery, prepping individual neck blanks, etc? Yes. Processing rough timber? Eh...rather not.

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I do like the satisfaction of a good curl with a dangerously sharp handplane.I have some wooden bodied planes and some older Stanleys from micro to joiner and are nice to use because you don't need ear protection.I also have a 16 inch surface;a nice old beaver jointer and a hand held Makita with carbides.When it comes to planing I seem to put on the headphones a lot

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When I first started getting into building guitars, I was quite confident that if I used hand planes I would wreck the job and avoided them like the plague. I had a Stanley #4, a small wooden smoothing plane and a massive wooden jointer plane that I inherited from my grandad who built boats - I had no idea how to really use them or set them up, and spent a while thinking of ways to avoid using planes such as buying a power jointer or building a router thicknessing jig. Now that I've been at it a while, I've since found a Stanley #3 in my other grandad's cellar (along with a quality oilstone), and bought a great Stanley #7 on ebay, and also figured out how to set up planes and sharpen the blades properly with oilstones and waterstones.

After making nice long, thin shavings as opposed to leaving dusty scratch marks on the surface of boards, I've had a plane epiphany of sorts, and really enjoy using them now. I love how easier the mess they leave is to clean up, and how much safer they are compared to using powered tools. What do you guys tend to prefer? Relying on power tools for ease of use and setup, or are you more eager to get out a hand plane to get a job done?

All I hear about is power tools, no one talks about hand tools, sort of the forgotten art; so I was surprised when I see a Hand Plane mentioned. Thank god someone knows how to sharpen a plane iron. I was getting worried routers were the new everything tool.

I use power tools for 90% of a guitar build. With professional power tools the job is easy and quick and clean. But I also use hand tools because they work best for the details and fine fitting.

I sometimes think I would be a better builder if I could do everything with just hand tools then I come to my senses and realize that the people who say they do must:

1. make a fortune from one piece

2. have real jobs

3. cant afford any other tools

Hey I love hand tools, you can borrow any tool unless I have to personally sharpen it; then its off limits, This includes all of my hand tools. My Hand tools are displayed proudly in a prominent cabinet in my shop, but my routers, sanders drills etc. are thrown in a closed cabinet because their are after all just power tools.

I love hand tools because I believe they have a greater intrinsic value than power tools. I would never expect my hand planes to wear out. But hell I love both so dont make me choose between them.

Woodenspoke

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While from a production standpoint powertools are the CATS MEOW, no matter whether your building a guitar , custom cabinets , or anything with wood. Good hand tools just make you feel good. It's a symbios ( if thats a word) that makes you feel the wood and what it is capable of being and what you want it to do.

Enjoy your simple but complex work and when you can enjoy the pleasure of tools by Lie Neilson and other higher end planes beyond Stanley. Or get the satisfaction of making your own , using good plane irons and save your self the cost of the body from those on the highend list. You will really understand that even the plainest of scrapers will make all the difference.

Glad to see someone using the old art ,as I do Use the newer tools for many reasons, going back to basics is very very satisfiying.

MK

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^ :D lol

I guess I first had the desire partly to use hand planes instead since my grandad left me planes, but the things that really kicked it off were being unable to work on wide boards with the power tools in my price range and being unable to afford much anyway. After actually getting good at using them, even if I did have access to those massive power tools, I'd still stick with my hand planes most of the time since I don't like power tool dust or the prospect of losing fingers.

I'm happy with all the planes I've got now, and there's not really anything else I'd need to accomplish a job on a guitar build. Even the cheap Silverline #5 jack plane I picked up on Amazon this week works great with a modern Stanley replacement blade in there, and that was under £3 inc. postage on ebay.

DSCF0647.jpg

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I am pretty neutral on the hand tools vs power tools, whichever works better I use. I do try to limit hand sanding as much as possible, and I will surely reach for a hand plane, scraper or chisel if I am removing much material(this makes it much easier to clean the shop). I also trust my planes more than sanding for leveling surfaces, to my way of thinking sand paper makes keeping a surface true very difficult.

Peace,Rich

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Ooooh.... plane envy.

('cept for the Silverline... you can keep that one :D )

That wooden jointer looks like a beast!

Haha it is! It needs a lot of TLC though, the sole needs to be flattened and the blade needs some WD40 on it - it's not pictured in the plane since I'm having trouble separating it from the cap iron, it's actually rusted so much that it feels like it's welded together. Hopefully when I get a new can of WD40 it should loosen the rust just enough to get a heavy duty screwdriver to loosen it. Failing that, I'll buy another Marples blade and cap iron on ebay, they don't seem that expensive.

That Silverline plane isn't as good as the others obviously, but for £6.76 on Amazon it's an absolute steal - the handles are Rosewood, the fixings are brass and the sole and sides are milled pretty flat so it works really well as a jack plane. Obviously the blade that came with it was junk, but I only got it for heavy stock removal (and curiosity), and after fitting a new Stanley blade I got off ebay for a couple of quid it really does it's job well. I'd put it in the same league as a modern Stanley once it's got a new blade.

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It would be a shame if you can't get the iron working on the jointer - my wooden marples jack plane is a fantastic tool, and so light compared to a metal bench plane. Greta iron too - nice and thick at the leading edge, and holds an edge very well.

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I love using my hand planes, and in fact just purchased a couple of spokeshaves last weekend. Once I figured out how to hone em up and adjust them properly, I was having a great time shaving a test neck. I have a couple old large Stanley planes that used to belong to my dad. Think I'll acquire a couple new ones in smaller sizes.

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do yourself a favour with any metal soled plane and test its flatness with a dial guage or what ever you have, I betcha it aint flat.

once youve done that, find out which of your mates has a surface grinder and get it properly skimmed DEAD flat and then try it again, it makes a heck of a difference.

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As long as the nose (bit in front of the mouth) and the tail (last bit of the sole) are co-planar, it doesn't matter all that much if the rest tends to dip a little. Perfectly flat is better, of course, but remember you also don't want to get the sole out of square if you plan on shooting with it (shooting board).

I'll add that while I love my planes, for neck carving, I find my hand-cut rasps give me more control, no chance of tear-out, are faster, and almost just as much fun to use. Got mine from Dick in germany (their own brand, Herdim), StewMac has some hand-cut rasps, and they're worth every penny, IMO.

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Depends what grit I'm using - for a lower grit waterstone such as 240 grit, since I'm grinding the bevel to the right shape I'll use a honing guide, but for general resharpening I find it better to use just my hand to guide the iron over the waterstone - especially on grits like 4000 and 6000 etc. I agree that sharpening is very important in keeping your planes running well, if you think about it a plane is just a holder for a blade, and therefore if your blade is not honed properly then it's not really worth bothering with.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Depends what grit I'm using - for a lower grit waterstone such as 240 grit, since I'm grinding the bevel to the right shape I'll use a honing guide, but for general resharpening I find it better to use just my hand to guide the iron over the waterstone - especially on grits like 4000 and 6000 etc. I agree that sharpening is very important in keeping your planes running well, if you think about it a plane is just a holder for a blade, and therefore if your blade is not honed properly then it's not really worth bothering with.

Great advice which, of course, applies to all types of tools that are supposed to be sharp. I'll order a couple very high grit count waterstones this week. It's time to get started on the practice body, shave out a neck with spokeshave, sureforms, rasps, whatever's comfortable, practice using router templates, etc. By Winter I'll be ready to start on a real guitar project. I have a bunch of practice wood.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was digging through some cabinets at my wifes family farm in the tool shop and found an older Stanley jack plane. I was told I Can have it since no one else will use it and it is in kind of poor condition. It had gotten wet somewhere along the way and has a decent coat of rust on it including the sole. So first thing I am going to do is some work removing the rust with wire brush and some clean up work. The good news is that the company I work for has several surface grinders. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think all I need to do is clean off the heavy rust and then have the operator clamp it up so that the sole is sqaure to the sides and to take off just enough to make it flat? If this is wrong please correct me, I am looking to have it worked on later this week or over the weekend depending which shift can get to it.

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I was digging through some cabinets at my wifes family farm in the tool shop and found an older Stanley jack plane. I was told I Can have it since no one else will use it and it is in kind of poor condition. It had gotten wet somewhere along the way and has a decent coat of rust on it including the sole. So first thing I am going to do is some work removing the rust with wire brush and some clean up work. The good news is that the company I work for has several surface grinders. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think all I need to do is clean off the heavy rust and then have the operator clamp it up so that the sole is sqaure to the sides and to take off just enough to make it flat? If this is wrong please correct me, I am looking to have it worked on later this week or over the weekend depending which shift can get to it.

That sounds about right, don't bother taking a wire brush to sole and/or sides, just let the grinder take it off as you don't want to throw it further out of flat than it already is. You might also want to check that the face of the frog is flat so there's optimum contact between the back of the blade and the frog. A good way of removing the rust without worrying about de-flattening the plane surface is through simple electrolysis:

http://www.woodcentral.com/cgi-bin/readart...icles_720.shtml

inspiring stuff...

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