Planing troubles


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Feels like I'm always complaining. 


So I'm doing a panel, 33-36 inches for my smoker cart. Boards cupped and twisted hardcore. After a lot of crap, I think I got them decently squared, glued up in sections of about 9-10" so I can pass through the planer. These boards started at 1.5". 


So my troubles are both hand and power tool related. I took one of the panels after freshly sharpening my #4 and making damn sure to camber the blade and started smoothing it cause it wasn't even close to a perfect glue-up. It left trails. Deep gouges on the edges. Not only that but I couldn't get my square to sit flush on one section no matter what I did. In other words, couldn't get the high spots down to the low spots without making the low spots worse - or the trails would so completely jack it up that every attempt I made to take material off just made it worse. 


Finally I decided I had taken enough material off this end of the board and wasn't getting the job done. Really the glue up was close enough  I thought I'd try skip planing. So I started doing that. Worked wonders really. Or seems to. The only problem is that the end of the board I was planing off of was down to just over 1 1/8" - so I passed the board through again and again, lowered the setting down to 1 1/8" or thereabouts. Unfortunately even the part that was already at that  thickness started getting shaved as well. I stopped for now but across a five foot length, the thickness differs by about 1/8 to 1/16th of an inch.


I'm just super frustrated. I don't know if this is because I can't get literally anything to sit level or if my planer is messed up or what. And when I say I can't get anything to set level I mean - nowhere - not in the driveway, the garage, the back patio. Nothing is level.


I'd love to hear some thoughts cause right now I'm down to buying all new wood, this time stuff from the correct place that shouldn't cup and trying again, taking some wood and hand planing til I am the grand master of planing, or just quitting until next spring and focusing on other crap. 

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Depends on so many factors. Do you have a pair of dial calipers ? Check the thickness of some test pieces from one side to the other coming out of your planer. Could be the head or bed is off on one side or the other. In feed and out feed tables need to be aligned properly or that can cause problems too.

If you don't have a Jointer the need for serious hand planing skills increases. Winding sticks will help you visualize any twist that could be present before jointing.

S3S stock (surfaced 3 sides) from a decent lumberyard is a great place to start, Big Box stores are not a good place to start !

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On the hand plane side if you're leaving deep gouges then your blade is set way too far out. Start with the blade retracted all the way and slowly advance the blade until you just barely start getting little slices/slivers of wood. You won't get full shavings at first but don't keep advancing the blade. Plane a smallish area over and over until you start getting shavings. Look at those and advance the blade a bit more if you want a deeper cut. No more than a couple thous though if you're trying to avoid tracks.

The other thing to do is mark your high spots and only plane those. Using a straight edge (the corner of a plane works well) find your high spots and mark them with a pencil or piece of chalk. Then just plane those areas. No need to start on one edge of the board and go full length. Take a few passes on just your high spots and check for flatness again. Mark again and repeat until the board is flat. Then you can take a few full length passes to smooth the whole face.

Oh, and make sure the board is sitting flat on your bench before you start planing it. Use shims if necessary but if it's rocking up and down as you plane it you'll be chasing your own tail.

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Oh, and make sure the blade is put in square to the sole of the plane. Put the blade in and advance it until you can just see it when you sight down the sole. Adjust until it looks square. Then grab a small thin slice of wood, maybe a 16th of an inch or so thick and about the size of your thumb. Drag it along its edge on both sides of the sole and feel the resistance as the blade slices the wood. You should be able to feel if one side is taking a shallower cut than the other. Adjust accordingly until it feels even. If you really want to go nuts you can take a pair of calipers to your shavings to dial it in even further but if it feels right and the shavings look even then I wouldn't bother.

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Thanks guys. I do not have winding sticks. Obviously this must be remedied. I just watched about 2 more hours of Paul Sellers, sort of a hand plane pick me up. 


If nothing else I will try and maybe get these boards the same thickness all the way then if I screw them up, I'll buy more boards I guess. It just drives me crazy to watch Paul Sellers take a hand plane to his board and they are perfect. Or watch Marc run his stock through jointer/planer, glue up and the boards are completely flush throughout the whole panel. This has not been my experience. 

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Don't forget, Paul Sellers has been using a hand plane for his entire life. The guy has hands of gold.

Marc has been at this quite awhile as well and has honed his skills to a very high level.

Practice , patience, and machine set up are all critical to success and not being frustrated.

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