Hand Tools Archive

Re: Double iron positioning?

david weaver
100% right. The setting that I generally use came about via laziness and not due to the K&K suggestions. I'd been on to the cap iron for a little bit before Bill sent me a link to the videos and noticed that slightly rounded caps seemed to work better.

When I saw the video, I attempted to create the 80 degree set (can't remember if the video used 90) on a japanese plane, hoping I'd just found the key to very crisp planing that a japanese plane provides as well as tearout prevention. While that setting worked really well in a video, it was very unforgiving. With a machine, you could set depth of cut and cap iron and just repeat over and over, but the nuance of hand planing didn't translate well.

If I have to think about it as rules, I'd say those would be:
* plane with the grain first, before considering anything else
* set the cap iron in the lazy man's setting with the lazy man's profile that I prefer (because it doesn't affect surface quality on very thin shavings if the cap iron is set back a little) and at the distance from the edge that you find straightens out briskly the thickest shaving you're likely to take. No disaster would occur, but the plane is easier to use and not harder (push pressure is close to the same as no cap iron, but no tendency to come out of a cut because of tearout - a net gain)
* set the cap iron 50-100% shorter than the lazy man's setting only if it's absolutely necessary. It rarely is. Quite often when it seems necessary, the wood being planed is "unplaneable" from a practical standpoint (quartered cocobolo is sometimes like this - the early wood is really fragile and fractures. It doesn't even scrape nicely).

lazy man's setting plays well with big/little smoothing, which also puts the least wear and tear on the person running the plane (first passes for smoothing are hefty smoother shavings, cap iron controls quality of the surface, last several passes are finishing). Big/little works great with machine planed wood, too. very fast, and predictable in terms of change in dimension.

I was a bit turned off when the video came out and a bunch of bloggers suggested people should put an 80 degree bevel on their cap iron. It just didn't work well on a hand plane and was very unforgiving, not eliminating tearout on thin shavings and being too hard to push on thicker shavings and leaving a resulting fuzzy-ish surface from smashing the shaving back down into the wood.

© 1998 - 2017 by Ellis Walentine. All rights reserved.
No parts of this web site may be reproduced in any form or by
any means without the written permission of the publisher.