How to Plane Your Wood

How to Plane Wood For Beginners

What does ‘plane’ mean in woodworking anyway? A plane is a tool that is used to shape and smoothen wood by removing high spots. Knowing how to plane is a crucial skill that any woodworker needs to learn. Contrary to what people think, planning wood is quite fun and engaging especially when large projects are involved. It is because you can get away with several left-over blocks of wood which aren’t being used. When planning to plane any wood there are some basic things that one needs to understand, such as:

  • The type of wood
  • The techniques one needs to use
  • And the tools required to accomplish the work successfully.

What is the Procedure to Plane Wood?

Before you begin to plane your wood, you need to build a jig. A jig is a wooden frame that will hold your wood firmly when you start to plane. There are several ways you can plane your wood if you don’t have a professional wood planer.

How to Plane Your Wood

By Using a Table Saw

This is one of the easiest ways to plane wood especially if you are working on a large chunk of board. It gets the work done fast and efficiently. The trick to this method is that you have to be proficient in table sawing as you have to move the board smoothly against the saw to avoid burn marks. In case you are not a pro, use scrap wood to practice first.

On the other hand, you might find that there is a flaw on your wood surface. Using an engineering square to position the saw to a 90 degrees position will solve your problem. Something to note is that you will not get a smooth surface as you wish. Therefore, be prepared to burn out some calories as you sand your wood.

Using a Router

Similarly, like the hand plane, the router works the same. Position your wood properly, ensure its stability, and push the jig past the router to cut the face of the board. You want to work towards the direction of the grain for the best results.

One disadvantage of the router is that you will not achieve a smooth surface, hence sanding will be required.

The Good Old Sandpaper

Well, if you don’t have some of the above tools, this then becomes your last resort. Sure, it will take a longer time and more effort to get the desired results, but it will get the job done. Find the coarsest sandpaper around and sand the wood along the grain.

A good trick is to wrap the sandpaper around a sanding block to get a better grip.

Using The Drum Sander/Wide-Belt

Unlike the power plane that uses the knife, the wide-belt uses sandpaper. Just like the sandpaper, it will take longer to get the required output. The drum sander is usually used after planing but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be put to good use.

Hand Wood Plane

Hand wood is also known as a jack plane. For most woodworkers who love to be hands-on, then this is the jackpot. Most will tend to have the number 5 and 6 jack plane. The numbers indicate the size of the base, meaning the higher the number, the larger the base. The wider base allows you to work on both the wider and narrow boards. Additionally, they don’t produce wavy surfaces. Here are some tips when using jack planes:

  • You should work slowly and use a straight edge to find the high spots.
  • Point to note is that you need to keep on checking with your straight edge to avoid overdoing it.
  • Get your stance right to give you the right stability to work efficiently. The right position should be behind the wood and one foot in front of the other.
  • Position your elbows and fingers correctly. When wrongly placed, there is a likelihood to plane in the wrong angle. Tuck your elbow into your body to maintain stability. At the same time, your wrist, elbow and plane should be in a straight line. In addition, ensure three fingers of your dominant hand are crunched up on the handle of the plane while the index finger is resting on the frog. This allows you to be comfortable while giving you maximum control of the plane.
  • Work at your own speed. Hurry will not get you better results. Good things take time, and so does a perfect planed wood. Don’t be in a hurry to finish planing your wood because, in the end, you will make an uneven planed wood.
  • Consider using candle wax if the friction is too high. Apply a thin layer of candle wax randomly over the base of the plane to help it glide over the wood smoothly.

 Tips to Consider When You Want to Plane Wood.

  • Make sure that your wood is perfectly fitted for stability. When it wobbles, the wood is planed unevenly, and there is a high risk of hurting yourself.
  • Always have some small wedges that you are going to use to position your wood in a stable position.
  • Before starting on any project, ensure that your knives are very sharp. When they are not sharp, you find that your wood is uneven and potentially damage the wood completely. Again, do not over sharpen your knives because when you fit them, they may not completely reach the wood. While you want to attain a sharp edge, keep in mind that razor-sharp knives don’t stay that way long, so aim to achieve 600 grit using a whetstone.
  • Make sure that your knives are properly aligned to get good results. As you will come to find, many hand-held planers have a pair of knives to shave the wood. Never assume that your newly bought planer will have its knives aligned, you might be in for a disappointment. Even so, if you have a power planer get a knife setting jig. It allows you to make sure that every knife is precisely set up.
  • When planing wood, go with the direction of the grain.
  • Aim for thinner passes rather than single deep passes. This is because the deeper the pass the more debris, and you will not get clean cuts and vice versa. Moreover, the deeper the pass, the more resistance your planer will face.
  • Clean as you go. As you work, you are likely to get sawdust on your board. Whatever planer you are using, ensure that your board is clean and therefore, less resistant on the planer.
  • Always aim to use the right tools for the right job.
  • Always wear protective equipment such as goggles, air mask, and earplugs. The noise and dust can be harmful if not avoided properly.

How to Plane Your Wood

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a wood planer, and what does it do?

A wood planer is a tool used by woodworkers to shave and smoothen the wood surfaces. Additionally, it is used to reduce the thickness of woods and flatten rough patches by shaving off thin layers as you run it along with a piece of wood.

Can I plane wood with a table saw?

Yes, you can. However, the results will not be as outstanding like using a hand jack plane or a power planer. You need to be a professional to use the table saw. Sanding will also be required if you are looking for a smoother outcome of the wood.

Is it possible to use a planer without a jointer?

If you don’t have access to a jointer, you can flatten up your piece of wood or square up those edges.

What is the difference between a planer and a jointer?

A planer is generally a thicknesser. It is used to shape and smoothen wood to the required size while a jointer is used to create a flat surface on the wood. It can also be used to correct warp and bows on the wood.

Can I plane off paint off my piece of wood?

Yes, you can. But remember that paint is abrasive to the knife and can ruin it if it is not latex based. Additionally, find the smallest size of the knife as you would require to remove the paint without eating too much of the wood.

Is it possible to clean planer blades?

Absolutely yes. You can use mineral spirits or a brass bristle brush to clean off your blades. Care must be taken, though; the blades could cut your fingers.

Are spare parts readily available for planes?

Yes, they are. Due to the huge usage of this tool, there is a wide array of spare parts for all sizes. Some of the spare parts you can find include, blades, frogs, handles, lever caps, iron adjusters, nuts, screws and bolts.

Is there a difference between a wooden plane and a metal plane?

As the name suggests, one is wooden, and the other is metallic. But they all have the same function. The major difference is that it’s purely made of wood for the wooden plane except for the blade which is metallic compared to the purely metallic metal plane.

  1. What are some of the possible problems to encounter when using a plane and how can I solve them?

Challenges are bound to happen. Luckily for you, I know how to overcome them.

  • Chatter – this occurs when your plane stutters and leaves a ripped surface.

Solution: -Retract the iron slightly or put more pressure as you start planning.

-Additionally, check if the iron is bedded flat on the frog or the frog is not correctly seated.

-check whether the chip breaker and the iron are screwed tightly together and that the level is putting enough pressure on the chip breaker to hold the iron firmly.

  • Tear-outs – this occurs when the iron pulls up the wood fibers instead of cutting a clean shave.

Solution: – As said earlier make small passes instead if single large passes. 

– Also, if the grain is hard, try changing the direction of the cut. 

– Ensure that your blade is very sharp and not blunt.

– Try and raise the angle of the blade

  • The plane stops cutting- this could occur if there is clogging of the mouth of the shaver or backlash.

Solution: – widen the mouth of the shaver to avoid too much clogging

-flatten the edge of the chip breaker

How do you sharpen wood planer blades?

    1. Set up your honing guide on a flat smooth surface and place your blade securely in a bevel-side down manner. The lower the angle of the blade, the sharper it will be. The ideal angle should be 30 degrees and 38mm of the blade to be sticking out. This is to ensure even the edges will be sharpened properly.
    2. Oil your whetstone using tapping oil.
    3. Remove blade nicks if there are using coarse side of the whetstone.
    4. Flatten and polish the back of the blade. You start with the coarse grit moving to the medium and finally, the fine grit. Once all the stages are done, the back usually looks like a mirror.
    5. Finally sharpen the bevel by taking the honing guide and blade and rub the bevel on the coarsest grit. Just like what we did with the back of the blade, start from the coarse grit, onto the medium grit and finally the fine grit. Use a magnifying glass to check your progress. Test the sharpness by planing a piece of wood. The sharper it is, the thinner the shavings.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to planing wood, you need to find the right tools for the job. It would be much easier to do some research or get advice from a professional on the best planers for your wood. We hope that you have enjoyed our advice on how to plane wood. With continued practice of the tips given above, there is no doubt that you will get fantastic results.