Hand Tools Archive

How do you know whan a plane is dull

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
This question may appear so stupid no one may consider an answer. But bear with me.

A few times a day I pick up a plane, hit a few licks, and carry on with whatever I am doing. Using a plane this way I have no way of feeling it getting dull. The feed back is too far apart in time and the planing task is usually greatly different each occasion. I was planing the face of a bracket foot this morning, smoothing a sticking up dovetail pin this afternoon, mowing off the overhang of a facing strip later and just now leveling the edge of a drawer divider to prepare it for receiving a facing strip. These tasks last seconds.

So, suppose you visited my shop, and you were helping me building these cabinets and there came up a task for removing a few shavings of wood for some reason. You grabbed one of my planes and began to use it, smoothing and leveling the edge of a drawer divider, for example. If it was dull enough that could couldn't stand it, what would tell you it was dull? What would you feel or see?

To be clear we are not taking full shavings smoothing a top where the planed surface will be varnished without sanding. Almost always the shaving width will be but a fraction of the blade width, and variable task to task. Surface quality, excepting tear-out, is irrelevant. The surface is gong to be covered up or sanded.

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