OMG - Hand Plane Use

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by adt2, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. adt2
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    adt2 Senior Member

    So I have never used a hand plane for more than 12 seconds in my life. Tonight, however, power tools failed me, and I was forced to use a large plane to flush-and-square the bottom of a lapstrake plank to the underlying chine.

    I tried everything before I tried the plane. I made a fancy scribe to mark the inside location of the chine on the outside of the plank, then used a jig saw to cut to the line. Ugly and crooked and not satisfactory at all. Then switched to a 3-1/2" power plane. Faster, but still not very pretty.

    Finally, I picked up an old No. 5 or maybe No. 5-1/2 Stanley (about a foot long) I bought reconditioned from a guy on the WoodNet forums last year and gave it a tentative swipe down the bottom of the plank.

    Oh. My. God. A long, translucent ribbon of yellow Cypress curled up out of the mouth of the plane just as smooth as butter. And then another, and another, and another, until finally I was standing ankle-deep in the curly shavings. The bottom edge of my plank was flat, square, and flush with the chine. There was no noise (other than the shops fans and the radio blasting the soothing sounds of Weezer), no dust, and no doubt that the old plane will now be the first thing I reach for when I need to smooth/square/flatten an edge.

    Maybe next time I'll try the even-bigger plane I bought from the same guy; can't remember what the number is, but it's a good 16" long - maybe longer. More of a jointer plane. Anyhow, just wanted to share my epiphany here with some folks who could smile knowlingly and appreciate it.

    Happy planing.
     
  2. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Just make sure you keep the blade sharp.
     
  3. ancient kayaker
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    Add a low-angle block plane to your shopping list, keep everything razor sharp, resharpen as soon a a blade starts to lose its edge, and a touch of hard wax on the sole works wonders. Oh yeah, and welcome to the club - we all get to join eventually!
     
  4. Corley
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    Corley epoxy coated

    Glad to know that you have experienced a hand tool epiphany. They are handy things to have around to touch up bits and pieces which are just too small and fiddly to do with a powertool.
     
  5. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    It's worth buying a decent rebate plane too.
     
  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    A real boat builders learns to make his own planes and how to keep his edges.
     
  7. ancient kayaker
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    Paul: You have time to make your own tools? BTW, I knew you were a yacht designer and builder, but what's a "&amp" . . . ?

    - Terry
     
  8. daiquiri
    Joined: May 2004
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    Location: Italy (Garda Lake) and Croatia (Istria)

    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    Sadly, the legendary founder of the Marshall Amps, mr. Jim Marshall, has passed few days ago. Perhaps PAR has decided to jump in and take over his market share? :p

    Just kidding, of course ;) - &amp is supposed to be the "&" sign, but it just doesn't want to display properly in the signature. I've had it in my signature before, had to change it into "and" for the same reason.
     
  9. lewisboats
    Joined: Oct 2002
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    lewisboats Obsessed Member

    I just pulled some wispy curls of cedar/plywood edge and glue from my latest... Flush cut saw but operator error didn't get the cut flush. Coupla swipes with the block plane and everything is Even Steven.
     
  10. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    The more I work with wood the more I like the old hand tools. As you noticed, it is much more pleasant to take wood down to shape without all that noise and dust. Since wood working is for most of use a hobby, might as well make it more pleasant by using hand tools. I find it is not that much more time consuming either, and the control of the shape is much better; more than a few times I grabbed a belt sander to take just a bit off to improve the fit, and found I took off too much. There is a much lower risk of that happening with a hand plane.

    I fell in love with my old Stanly plane, that I bought at a garage sale, when I was making a Greenland kayak paddle. The others I made using the belt sander, after I roughed it out on a table saw. Lots of noise and dust, and sometimes taking more off than I intended. For the next one I was out of belts, so I thought I would try the hand plane. It was not only more pleasant, it left a nicer surface finish. Cleaning up the shavings were also a snap compared to dust all over the shop.
     
  11. adt2
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    adt2 Senior Member

    One of my favorite quotes: "You make mistakes a lot more quickly with power tools."

    - George Buehler in Buehler's Backyard Boatbuilding
     
  12. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

    Something else that will leave a 'eureka!' moment in your memory is the first time you reach for a cabinet scraper, instead of a piece of sandpaper. You'd be amazed what a simple rectangle of steel can do....

    I usually grab an old trowel (or drywall knife) of one sort or another when I need to make a scraper; seems like I always have one or two kicking around with the handles missing for one reason or another.

    Here's as clear and simple a write-up on scrapers as I've ever seen. It says everything I would've said about preparing and using them, so I see no reason to do a write-up myself: http://woodzone.com/Merchant2/articles/scrapers/index.htm
     
  13. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    A low angle block plane is essential for plywood end grain. There are several places to pickup real boat plane plans, which differ from the land based variants. It takes some skill to make one well, but once you've got it, you'll cherish it for the remainder of your life. Eventually, you'll have a box full of planes, each designed with a specific task in mind.
     
  14. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Building Classic Small Craft Volume 2 by John Gardner has a chapter on "Boatbuilding Planes".
     

  15. ancient kayaker
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    I have an entire bagful of unemployed drywall tools left over from rebuilding a washroom, enough metal working tools to attack them with, but . . . no cabinet scrapers. yet! They still have handles, but some old tools don't! Hmm . . . I think I'll take a day or two off from the boat . . .

    - thanks Troy for another Eureka moment!
     
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