How to Use a Wood Plane for a Smooth Surface
Getting a smooth surface
Always sharpen and adjust a plane before using it. Check the wood forif it is not new. Strip painted wood, otherwise the plane blade will not be able to bite.
Support the wood so that it will stay perfectly still as you work: put long wood on a flat surface against a stop; if your bench top is not level, use a stout, level board with a stop screwed on the end.
To plane end grain, put the wood as low down in the vice as you can so that it will not vibrate, or use a shooting board. Check edges for square frequently as you work, with a try-square. Check that long wood is level by looking along it frequently. Plane off raised areas before finally planing the whole board.
Plane towards knots from either side if the grain of the wood is very rough.
Lubricate the bottom of the plane when in use by rubbing with a candle end. Wipe any resin from the wood off the bottom of the plane, as it makes planing harder work.
After use, store planes on their sides in a dry place, clearing away shavings and sawdust, which attract damp and cause the cutting edge to rust. Wipe all exposed metal with an oily rag.
Planing long wood. Press down on the front of the plane at the start of the stroke, easing up until as you finish the pressure is on the back. Try to produce ribbon-like shavings. Work with the wood on a flat surface, with the end against a stop.
Planing long edges. Guide with the front hand, fingers brushing against the wood, thumb pressing downward. Make the stroke the length of the wood.
Chamfering. Use the fingers and the thumb of the front hand as a guide, as with planing a long edge. Keep the elbow of the rear arm well in for greater stability.
End grain. Avoid splitting off end grain by cutting off a corner and planing towards it. Alternatively, plane towards the centre from each end of the wood in turn.
Making a shooting board
A shooting board, used with the jointer or jack plane, makes for accuracy in end-grain work. It should also be used for planing the long-grain edge of thin panels.
It basically consists of two boards which guide the plane, and a 90° stop against which to hold the work.
A shooting board can be made at home, preferably out of beech. Make sure the wood is not warped and that the stop is dead square; a length of 900 mm (3 ft) is about right.
A mitre shooting board has a stop set at 45° to where the plane runs, and is invaluable when making picture frames.
Using the board. Hold the plane on its side against the guide pieces. If the wood you are planing is thicker than the stop, insert a spare strip between them to pre- vent the plane from splitting the end grain on the otherwise unprotected top corner.