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Smoothing Plane Troubleshooting

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Thread transferred from previous forum - Original Post by Tmize

Original Post:

So as most of you have probably figured out by now that I love my hand planes. I come across a problem not real long ago with my most trusted Stanley #4. It is hard to explain an wish now I would have taken so photos to better explain now.

I would freshly sharpen it put it in the plane set the lateral adjustment to cut square. It cut just perfect down the edge of the board but when planing the face it wasn’t cutting right heavy on the edges none from the center on super light cut. So I’d stop do some troubleshooting check the board for bad ripples or serious plan tracks left from my jointer (#7). The board was fine so I would start checking the plane normal culprits chip breaker clogged, shaving stuck to the bottom of the plane, check the lateral adjustment again no issues. I’d pull the blade out an check the camber it was there. I don’t camber much on my smoother. So I would sharpen it again no change.

So I did what any 21 century woodworker does google it ?. Internet almost let me down but deep down in my search like the 4th page down there with the so far off topic crap it’s not worth reading I found a solution. The way I sharpen/prepare my iron is on the virgin sharpening I start on my coarse stone 400grit an create the camber bout 5-6 seconds on each corner then the rest of the bevel. Work my way thru the grit to my finest stone and strop. I never go back to anything but my finest Stone an strop for touch ups unless I badly nick it somehow. When doing touch ups I will still hit the cambers couple seconds.

So now to the point of this topic. When doing this after so many sharpening without having gone back a re establish the camber I had created a concave bevel. Now I don’t know how I couldn’t see this when holding a straight edge up to it toward the light. But what happens is the center of the bevel wears down faster because it is what is in constant contact with the wood and just the touch up on each corner after probably 100 sharpening wasn’t enough to keep them further back than the middle an eventual the corners pasted the middle of the blade by like a hair not noticeable by eye. Something this simple will make you mad enough to turn what was once a prized possession to new anchor for my canoe. Figured I would share this with you are and hopes it reaches the next guy both he goes postal on his tools when they won’t do what he wants them to do all of a sudden.

Follow Up Posts:

1)  As most of you know, I'm not a heavy hand tool user. I have never added a camber to any of my blades but, you have gotten my interest. Can you go into more detail on the how and why you do this?
Glad you found the issue! Looking forward to learning more!

2)  First time I put a camber on my smoother it was near perfect, I was happy beyond belief. Then I got a small nick in the blade and had to work that out. After it was gone I went back to my regular sharping routine a long with adding the camper the same way I had the first time but it didn't come out nearly as nice so I have to keep working at it. I guess the first time was a big case of beginners luck.

3)  The camber is there for a couple reason depending on the planes use. First heavy stock removal greater the camber. A simple rule is the camber back to the corners you want a little more than half of the thickness of the shaving you want to take. So if you want to take heavy 1/16” in a pass with a square across the blade to corners should be back a lil more than a 1/32”.

Now a smoother to me it is there for couple reasons. One to help make plane track almost impossible to detect by raking light or touch. It also helps in squaring the iron to the sole of the plane in that it doesn’t have to be near perfect. So when doing overlapping passes the camber blends the passes together. Best analogy I’ve heard is like cutting grass across a hill you overlap your cuts but if you run over a lower spot on the next pass you will leave a line in the grass that is nearly impossible to get rid of without cutting the grass lower.
Also helps when leveling a joint to feather the two piece together same as when sanding you well concentrate on the higher spot then gradually work it back to the other surface.
Leveling the edge of the board by shifting the plane to the high side instead of holding the plane out of plumb to square it. That’s just a few things I can think of right now. Any more questions just ask or if I didn’t answer it with this spill

4)  One of the big things for me is to remind myself when I hit a issue all of a sudden such a tool stops work correctly or a particular skill you know how to do doesn’t come out the way it normally does GO BACK TO THE BASICS normally always fixes the problem.

Chet if I remember correctly your planes are bevel up correct? Do to some kind of geometry I don’t understand when chambering those irons require much more camber than bevel down to the same task. Derek Cohen did a great write up on it on his website. I know the little I’ve done with bevel up they are harder to camber free hand an require a jig. Mainly for the reason the bevel angle can not change in the camber or it simple will not cut on the edges. While a bevel down the bevel angle doesn’t matter along as you don’t raise it up higher than the bed angle 45• typically.


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