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A hand planer shaves off thin wood shavings from a piece of wood to create a smooth, flat surface. Knowing how a hand planer work is an essential skill for any woodworker. Here’s a step by step guide to help beginners:
There are different hand planers, each performing a different task. Planers with long bodies straighten the wood more accurately as the length of the frame allows the plane to bridge the troughs and peaks on the surface. Shorter planes, on the other hand, are ideal for more precise woodworking tasks.
When choosing a hand planer, ensure that it matches the task at hand. Jointer planes, for example, are ideal for straightening or trimming long pieces of wood as they are longer (usually 22 inches). Smoothing planes are more versatile hence suitable for most woodworking projects.
The blade should be razor-sharp to ensure it removes the wood shavings accurately. You may use 220-grit sandpaper or a bench grinder to sharpen the blade. Be sure to hold the blade at a 30-degree angle, so the bevel sits flat against the sandpaper. The blade should form a burr at its back when it is ready for use.
The angle of the blade determines the thickness of the shavings. If the angle is too deep, you may shave off too much wood from the surface. When adjusting the blade angle, turn the adjustment wheel until the tip of the blade protrudes beneath the sole of the plane. If you are a beginner, you can start with a shallow angle and increase the depth as you familiarize yourself with the tool.
Be sure to clamp the workpiece to prevent it from moving when pressure is applied. For example, if planning the side of a door, position the door on its side and clamp it to a secure surface, e.g., a wall or a table leg.
Place the plane at the edge of the surface and begin to flatten and smoothen the wood. Apply pressure on the front knob and press it forward while pushing the plane across the surface in a smooth, continuous motion. Work the surface methodically, paying attention to the high sections on the surface. You also want to:
You should have a flat, smooth surface sitting flush with adjacent pieces of wood. Check for the smoothness by laying a straight edge along the surface.
It should sit flush against the face of the wood regardless of its position. If it leaves gaps underneath, then some sections of the wood have high spots. Also, use a try square to check the angle between two adjacent faces of the wood to ensure it sits at a ninety-degree angle.
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