Hand Tools Archive

planing everything flat and square...

David Weaver
..any time I make a plane, I've learned that I'd better plane it flat and square to start and very near finished dimension, because it affects layout to some extent, but I really won't do it at the end if I don't do it at the beginning.

So I plane the whole billet flat and square to middling tolerances from the start. It's not flat enough for the plane to work well - in a very fine cut, the plane will skip in and out of a cut, but it's close enough that the coarse paper will do the rest of the work in something like 50 strokes.

There's danger in taking a very twisted plane or one that's got a lot more trouble to get rid of without planing off the "bad" bits first.

getting a picture of a sole with backlighting and a tilted straight edge is a real three handed operation, and this is with two (thus the clamp holding the plane). As this plane is completed, this goofiness is what I'd call my favorite criminal charge when you read the paper -"risking a catastrophe!"

I've tilted a non-taper starrett 380 toward the camera as it's easy to stop light if you let the fat side sit on something.

I figured if I said that I lap things flat, I ought to prove it (otherwise it can just come off as being oppositional for no reason ....not looking to do that).

The glow in the background is the lights on the ceiling. A richer man would have a test light on the bench to put behind the plane.

The lap (if a single piece of loose grit gets under this glass on one end, it's enough to allow slipping of a feeler under the straight edge once you push down on the center):

The aforementioned japanese plane touched up on a washita after lapping (there just isn't quite enough sharpness to get a cherry shaving of that thickness to hold together)

It is still pretty fine work, though, and the edge of the cherry board shows the reflection of the garage windows and flowers outside on the surface - it's exceptionally hard to trick the phone autofocus into capturing a glare like this. at least my phone. It instantly flattens the glare and focuses on the bakcground).

All in all, this is a very workable method for keeping a plane in shape, but that's as far as I'd go with it. it's workable. Is it necessary? for me making planes (And constantly flattening vintage irons to get them set up to work in a plane like the jack plane, and do it very quickly) - i'd say yes. Anyone else?

It's doable and not hard, and with the paper setup (coarse high quality high-adhesive power roll) it's one of those things that you find uses for. It's even very good for freehand miter tuning, but it wouldn't need to be nearly so flat for that).

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