Knowledge Builders

for what kind of work would you use a block plane

by Stephon Tremblay Published 2 years ago Updated 1 year ago
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Why use a block plane?

A sharp, properly adjusted hand plane allows a woodworker to peel a whisper-thin shaving from wood while leaving a surface of unsurpassed quality. That's why these venerable tools-planes go back to Roman times-still fit into today's shop. And, among hand planes, the block plane ranks near the top for versatility and convenience.

What is a hand plane used for in woodworking?

Compact and versatile, block planes such as the low-angle one (left) and the standard version belong in any woodworking shop. A sharp, properly adjusted hand plane allows a woodworker to peel a whisper-thin shaving from wood while leaving a surface of unsurpassed quality.

How do you use a block plane to cut wood?

Hold the plane at a slight angle to the wood and plane with the grain of the wood as shown whenever possible. Planing against the grain will cause the blade to catch and tear or splinter the wood. Tighten miters by trimming excess with a sharp block plane.

Are block planes good for long grain wood?

While this angle is fine for planing long grain on most woods, it’s not very good for end grain or gnarly woods. For a block plane to work well, its parts must be machined accurately so they fit together well and the mechanisms work smoothly.

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What is the advantage of block plane?

What a Block Plane Can Do for You. Chamfers A good block plane will cut precise bevels on both long grain and end grain. End grain A well-honed low-angle block plane can easily tackle end grain cuts, often encountered when flushing dovetail pins to a drawer side, or when flushing a rail to a stile on a door assembly.

Can you smooth with a block plane?

long, a block plane is designed to be used with one hand, and it can fit easily inside a tool pouch. For projects such as cabinets, these small planes have a variety of uses: chamfering, cutting end grain, leveling corner joints, trimming miters, cleaning up saw cuts, and smoothing straight and curved edges.

What type of plane is a block?

Block planes come in two varieties: standard, with a blade pitched at 20 degrees, and low-angle, with a 12-degree pitch.

Is a block plane necessary?

The block plane is intended for fine work. If you need to level a workpiece, smooth a long, wide surface, or plane a drawer slide, the block plane is probably not the answer. Its body is too short to flatten a surface, and with the rise and fall of the waves in the stock, it may even exaggerate the contours.

What plane should I buy first?

Your first purchases should be a low-angle block plane and a shoulder plane, above. Both help you put a refining touch on the less-than-perfect cuts produced by your power tools. For example, with a few strokes, a finely tuned low-angle block plane shaves burn marks or fuzz off end grain that saw blades leave behind.

What is a wooden block plane used for?

A block plane is a small metal-bodied woodworking hand plane which typically has the blade bedded at a lower angle than other planes, with the bevel up. It is designed to cut end grain and do touchup or finish work. It is typically small enough to be used with one hand.

What planes should a woodworker have?

Which hand planes should a power-tool woodworker buy first?Air Tools.Bandsaws.Biscuit Joiners.Circular Saws.Clamps and Clamping.Drills and Drivers.Chisels.CNC Machines.More items...•

How do you choose a block plane?

0:552:31Guide to Buying a Woodworking Block Plane - YouTubeYouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clipThis particular block plane I like because it's a rabbet plane also you can use it for. You can seeMoreThis particular block plane I like because it's a rabbet plane also you can use it for. You can see the blade goes all the way up to the edge whereas this one doesn't. And this is useful in trimming.

What is the tool to smooth wood?

A hand scraper, also known as a card scraper, slices off very fine wood shavings, smoothing wood faster than sandpaper and achieving superior flatness. It's nothing more than a thin piece of steel, usually rectangular, with a sharpened edge, or blade.

What do you use a low angle block plane for?

The low-angle block plane is also ideal for working end grain, such as squaring or trimming. Cutting end grain is very different from planing with the grain; it calls for a lot of pressure and control. In fact, cutting end grain requires nearly three times the force that it takes to cut parallel to the grain.

What makes a smoothing plane?

A smoothing plane or smooth plane is a type of bench plane used in woodworking. The smoothing plane is typically the last plane used on a wood surface, removing very fine shavings to leave a smooth finish. When used effectively it quickly produces a finish that equals or surpasses that made by sandpaper.

What is a block plane and what are they used for?

A block plane is a small metal-bodied woodworking hand plane which typically has the blade bedded at a lower angle than other planes, with the bevel up. It is designed to cut end grain and do touchup or finish work. It is typically small enough to be used with one hand.

How to use a block plane?

Photos 2 – 5 show some of the ways you can use a block plane to accomplish everyday carpentry tasks. Nestle the plane in your palm. Start each stroke with more force bearing down on the front of the plane through your index finger, and end each stroke with more force on the back of the plane through your palm. Hold the plane at an angle to the wood so the blade slices off thin, even shavings (Photo 2).

How much does a block plane cost?

Block planes range in price from about $12 for a basic plane to $150 or more for a collector-quality plane. In the middle of this range is my favorite, the Stanley low-angle block plane (about $45). Less-expensive planes have fewer adjusting mechanisms (you’ll have to wiggle the blade by hand to position it), less accurate machining and lower-quality steel in the blade. But despite these shortcomings, they’ll still do the job when fitted with a sharp blade.

How to sharpen a plane blade?

Photos 6 – 9 show sharpening basics. Here are the key steps to getting a plane blade sharp: 1 Flatten the back of the blade and remove scratches and milling marks by grinding it, beginning with 220-grit sandpaper and working to 600-grit (Photo 7). You’ll know the back is flat when the sheen is even. 2 Set the honing guide for 25 degrees and grind the primary bevel (Fig. A). You only need to progress to the 220-grit paper. 3 Then set the blade in the guide to grind a secondary bevel of 30 degrees (Fig. A). Progress through at least 600-grit. Don’t move to the next grit until you’ve removed all of the grinding marks from the previous grit. 4 Grind until you raise a little burr on the back of the blade (Fig. B). Then flip the blade over, backside down on the sandpaper, and sand off the burr with 600-grit paper. Repeat this process as you progress from coarse- to fine-grit sandpaper. Make sure you hold the back of the blade exactly flat on the sandpaper when you grind off the burr. If you tilt it, you’ll “roll” the edge and have to go back to a coarser grit to reestablish the cutting edge. 5 Complete sharpening with the final removal of the burr to create a razor edge.

How to cut fine shavings on a plane?

Adjust the blade side to side until its cutting edge is parallel to the sole of the plane. Test the cut on a scrap of wood and raise the blade a little at a time as necessary to achieve the desired cut. Always keep a sharp blade in the plane. A sharp blade will cut fine shavings.

How to keep a plane in a dry area?

Keep your plane in a dry area and retract the blade when you’re not using it. Resharpen the blade often to maintain the edge and you’ll always be ready to trim a door , loosen a drawer , or unstick a window at a moment’s notice.

How to tighten miters on a wood plane?

Planing against the grain will cause the blade to catch and tear or splinter the wood. Tighten miters by trimming excess with a sharp block plane.

How to plane wavy lines?

To plane wavy lines or difficult-to-plane grain, increase the angle of the plane to 45 degrees or more (Photo 4). Paint and other finishes rapidly dull plane blades. Use a carbide scraper to remove paint or finish before planing. Keep your plane in a dry area and retract the blade when you’re not using it.

What to look for in a block plane?

The most important features to look for in a good block plane include a flat sole, a reliable and easy-to-use depth-of-cut adjustment, and an adjustable throat. You’ll also want the tool to feel comfortable in your hand. Unlike most bench planes, the block plane blade is installed bevel up.

How to clean a block plane?

Whether new or used, a block plane will likely need some cleaning and tune-up. Disassemble the plane, and clean all the parts with mineral spirits, scrubbing them if necessary with a brass brush or steel wool. If a straightedge indicates the sole isn’t flat, make it so by rubbing it on successively finer grits of carborundum paper adhered to plate glass or your jointer table with the blade installed and fully retracted. Use a fine file to remove any metal burrs, especially around the throat opening and body edges. Lubricate all mechanisms with a light oil, sharpen the blade, and reassemble the plane.

What is the cutting angle of a block plane?

As shown in Figure 2a, a standard block plane has a bedding angle of 20°. Adding the standard blade angle of 25° gives you a cutting angle of 45°, which is comparable to standard bench planes. While this angle is fine for planing long grain on most woods, it’s not very good for end grain or gnarly woods.

What blade is best for cutting wood?

Plane with 25° blade. Good for cutting with the grain on most woods.

How to laterally adjust a plane blade?

To laterally adjust the blade, use a small brass or wood hammer to tap it sideways until it projects evenly from the plane throat.

How to check projection on a block plane?

As a rough gauge, I check the projection at each end of the blade with my thumb as I tap. Re-sight and repeat if necessary. (Some block planes include a lateral adjustment mechanism, but I don’t consider them essential.)

When leveling box joint fingers (or dovetail protrusions), what direction should the plane be?

When leveling box joint fingers (or dovetail protrusions), plane inward toward the center of the workpiece to prevent splitting the material.

What size is a block plane?

Block planes come in a range of sizes, from 3″ up to 7″. In general, I think smaller block planes are better because the short sole allows you to sneak into small hollows on a board that a big block plane cannot easily reach. That said, the plane has to fit your mitt.

What is the wear bevel on a block plane?

Whenever you use any plane, the part of the cutter that faces the workbench always endures more wear than the part of the cutter that faces the ceiling. This additional wear is called the wear bevel. On a block plane (and any bevel-up plane) the wear bevel occurs and grows on the flat back of the cutter.

What is the most reliable way to prevent spelching and produce a flat surface?

Cut to the end. A sacrificial block is the most reliable way to prevent spelching and produce a flat surface. Note how the plane is skewed at the beginning of the cut.

How to end a touch and go landing on a plane?

The truth is you have the answer already in your hands – the answer is your hands. A high heel. To end a touch-and-go landing on your work, lift the heel of the plane, not the toe. With one hand hold the block plane and with the other hand hold the spindle against the mouth of the tool.

Why do woodworkers use 12° angle?

Many woodworkers say they prefer the 12° angle (called a “low-angle” block plane) because it is easier to use when cutting end grain. While technically that’s a true statement, the sharpness of the blade is far more important than the plane’s bedding angle when cutting end grain.

How to get into areas long planes cannot go without a lot of work?

This allows you to get into areas long planes cannot go without a lot of work. And third, do touch-and-go landings on the wood to prevent ugly marks from the cutter. To do this, put only the toe on the work with the rest of the plane about 5° off the wood. Push forward and land the plane on the wood.

Can you change a bevel up plane to a high angle?

By honing a steeper angle on your cutter, you can change any bevel-up plane to a high-angle tool. Modifying the tool to work at different angles is the primary reason many people prefer the low-angle (12° bed) block plane to the standard-angle (20°) tool.

Why do block planes have flat soles?

The body of a block plane must have a dead-flat sole to prevent it from rocking or conforming to subtle contours on a workpiece surface. All four Lie-Nielsen planes and all but one Veritas arrived with flat soles ready to go. Three planes needed only a few minutes of lapping on a diamond stone to get flat.

What planes have set screws?

Setscrews on all Veritas planes except for the apron plane align the blade perpendicular to the mouth opening, preventing any sideways movement.

What is the Norris adjuster on a Stanley plane?

To remedy that, the Veritas and Stanley planes use a Norris-style adjuster (shown above ), which swivels to square the blade to the mouth as well as front-to-back when you turn the screw.

How many planes have blades bedded at a low angle?

Eight of the planes have blades bedded at a low angle, while the others have a steeper, or standard, angle. See the sidebar below to learn which of the two types best suits you.

What is an apron plane?

Note: Apron planes are essentially smaller versions of block planes. They have either low- or standard-angle configurations similar to larger block planes, but have fixed mouths.

What is the cutting angle of a low angle block plane?

Add that to the 12–15° bed angle of a low-angle block plane and you get a combined cutting angle of 35–40°. Standard-angle block planes have 20–22° bed angles, steepening the cutting angle to 43–47°. We recommend getting a low-angle plane first if you can get only one because it’s more versatile than a standard-angle version.

How long does it take for a Stanley Sweetheart plane to flatten?

But the Kunz, Shop Fox standard-angle, and Stanley Sweetheart planes each needed about 30 minutes of lapping to make them flat. ■ Easy blade adjustments.

What is a pocket size block plane?

The pocket-size block plane is ideal for trimming small areas, but it's too short to straighten boards. The blade is positioned bevel side up; better models have an adjustable mouth for a super-thin shaving. Block planes come in two varieties: standard, with a blade pitched at 20 degrees, and low-angle, with a 12-degree pitch.

What is a low angle block plane?

The low-angle block plane severs end grain easily and is comfortable in one hand, making it perfect for fitting shingles, quickly shaving down the corners of swelled doors , and fine-tuning miter cuts on trim.

When Would You Use a Hand Planer?

A hand planer can pare off just a thin slice of wood, no tool is better for shaving the edge of a sticking door, chamfering the corner of a board, or straightening one that is twisted or warped. That's why most carpenters still pack a hand plane or two in their toolboxes.

Why is the blade of a bench plane pitched at 45 degrees?

The blade, or iron, of a bench plane is pitched at 45 degrees, bevel side down. A cap iron stiffens the blade and directs shavings away from the mouth.

What is the best bench plane for trimming?

At 22 inches or longer, the jointer is the largest bench plane and the best choice for trimming, squaring, and straightening the edges of doors or long boards.

How to sharpen a wood plane?

Sharpen first on a wet medium-grit water or oil stone or on 220-grit wet/dry sandpaper placed on a dead-flat surface, such as glass or marble tile. Repeat the process on a fine stone or a finer-grit sandpaper. Stroke with a circular motion until you feel a burr on the back of the edge, then flip the iron over to remove the burr by rubbing the back flat on the stone, leaving a clean, sharp edge. Finally, keep the iron sharp when not in use by storing the plane on its side and cleaning off resin from softwoods with a rag that's been dipped in turpentine or paint thinner.

What is the best tool for smoothing wood?

Plane tools are the best tool for smoothing and shaping wood. Here is why you would use one and the types available. There was a time where a hand plane was an indispensable tool, used to smooth, shape, and straighten just about every piece of wood in a house. The typical carpenter lugged around a whole chestful of planes, ...

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