Popular Woodworking 2006-02 № 153, страница 45

Popular Woodworking 2006-02 № 153, страница 45

tool to set up and sharpen (they don't have to be surgically sharp), jointers take a little more work in both departments and smoothing planes are the trickiest tool.

Smoothing planes require a cutter with a gently curved super-sharp cutting edge, a fine mouth, perfect alignment of the cutter in the center of the mouth and a lot of other fine tweaks that demand fussing, fussing, fussing. So if you're using your smoothing plane as little as possible, then you're also spending less time tweaking and more time woodworking.

There are a lot of sizes of smoothing planes, but in general they are 7" to 10" in length. The Stanley No. 4 is the most common size at 9" long with a 2"-wide cutter. The bigger planes, such as the No. 41/2, are suited for larger-scale work, such as dining tables. The smaller planes, such as the No. 3, are suited for smaller work, such as narrow door stiles and rails.

The smoothing plane needs to take a fine shaving, anywhere from .002" thick down to stuff that cannot be measured. So you need the sole to be as flat as possible to consistently take this shaving. You can try to tune the sole of your smoothing plane, or you can do what I do - let someone who

The powered jointer (above) and planer (right) are faster than a fore plane (though they won't burn as many calories during use)

knows what they are doing handle this job with a surface grinder. If you purchase a nice hand plane from Veritas, Lie-Nielsen or Clifton and the sole is out of whack, then send it back. You shouldn't have to flatten the sole if you pay more than $175 for a plane.

Other considerations: The mouth needs to be as tight as you can get without it clogging with shavings. The chipbreaker needs to be set near the cutting edge. I like less than V^" - as close as I can get without clogging. And the iron needs to have the slightest camber, just a couple thousandths at the corners. I achieve this by applying selective finger pressure at the iron's corners while sharp-

Hand scrapers and sanding blocks are an accepted and historically accurate way to prepare a piece of wood for finishing.

ening. I also find that smoothing planes are the place to lavish your sharpening skills. To get the edge as perfect as you can, polish it up to the highest grit you have available. In my experience, sharper edges reduce tear-out as much as a tight mouth or the pitch of the blade (higher pitches reduce tear-out but make the tool harder to push).

When working with a smoothing plane, make passes parallel to the grain of the board, making sure that your strokes overlap slightly. Work from the edge of the board near you across to the far edge. Your first strokes will remove the high spots left by the jointer plane and your shavings could look inconsistent. Once you make a couple passes across the face, you should be able to get full-length shavings that are as wide as your blade allows. When this occurs and the board looks good, put down the plane. Clean up any localized tear-out with a hand scraper.

If necessary, I'll make a few strokes with #220-grit sandpaper to blend the planed surfaces with the scraped ones. This should take only a few strokes.

What This Means: Blending Hand and Power

Armed with this understanding of hand plane s, you can now unlock an important secret. Almost all of our power tools can be classified as coarse, medium or fine tools - just like the hand planes used for surfacing wood.

Think about your powered jointer and planer as coarse tools, like the fore plane. Their job is to remove lots of stock in a hurry. But their surface needs to be refined before finishing (unless you build only chicken coops).

What are the medium tools? I classify large random-orbit sanders, belt sanders and drum sanders as medium tools. They remove the marks left by the coarse machining process and can indeed true a board when wielded by a skilled user. Some people are satisfied to stop at this phase - and truth be told, I'll sometimes stop after using my jointer plane when building something intended for the shop or for pure utility.

But most power-tool woodworkers go a step further. They scrape and hand sand to remove the scratches left by random-orbit

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