Hand Tools Archive

Re: toughness correlation, etc.

Steve Voigt
Bill, I have never understood this line of reasoning, though I've seen you present it numerous times. Even if you only take three shavings, how can you not see and hear whether the plane is cutting properly? And if you see it's not working, why wouldn't you pop the iron out and sharpen it?

I do plenty of planing obviously, but it's a regular occurence in my shop, as in yours, that I only need to take a dozen shavings off something before moving on to the next thing. I don't see how this has any bearing on my regard for surface quality. If I can see in the first 2-3 shavings (really after the first shaving a lot of the time) that it's not working, I have plenty of time to fix the problem.

Further, I don't understand the claim that surface quality is irrelevant because you're going to be sanding anyway. A badly planed surface means you're going to have to do a lot of sanding, perhaps starting with 120 grit and an ROS, and progressing to hand sanding with finer grits. A nicely planed surface means you can do a quick hand-sand with fine grit and be done with it. Given that the planing will take the same length of time whether it's done well or poorly, why not just do it well?

To sum up, I agree there is a distinction between "grazers and browsers," or as Dave said between "surface gazers and shaving lifters." But I don't think it has anything to do with how much time is spent with a plane. That's just rationalization. Once one has learned how to produce a decent surface, it doesn't matter whether you you spend two minutes or two hours with a plane.

Why do I care? Because there's an implicit suggestion in your claims, which is that that only the hardcore hand tool users can learn to produce excellent surfaces with a plane, while the casual hobbyist must be resigned to using a plane as a mere fitting instrument, without regard to surface quality, and i don't think that's true at all. Just my $.02.

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