Ryan D

Planing & finishing end grain to a waxy finish

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I just went on a sharpening binge for all my hand planes. Flattened the backs with diamond stones, moved to waterstones and then moved to the Tormek to set the bevel at ~25-27 degrees and got to a mirror finish with the leather strop on both sides of the edge. The results make me silly happy, I'm able to slice through paper with just the weight of the blade. 

Just for kicks, I pushed one of the blades directly through some end grain and got a waxy smooth finish, something I've never seen before! I was amazed until I popped it in the low angle plane and -- with the same blade -- got a rough finish - it felt like 400 grit sandpaper. I tried this with 3 different low angle planes - Stanley 9 1/2, Stanley low angle jack plane and the Veritas DX60 and got pretty much the same results across the board. 

So I'm wondering:

- Is there a way to get that same waxy finish with a low-angle plane that's cutting at a higher angle (~38 degrees vs. 27 degrees)?  Do I need to cut my bevels down to 23 degrees?

- If that's not realistic, has anyone tried burnishing end grain to get it to a waxy finish?

I'm planning to build walnut shelves soon with visible end grain and I'd love to have it be a hand finished / non-sandpapered waxy finish. 

 

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Two thoughts...

1) you still aren’t sharp enough, or

2) there is short grain in that end grain, and the uplift of the lower cutting angle is pulling that grain out. 
 

Solutions? More sharp, or introduce a high angle secondary face on that low angle blade. Also, you might try a lighter cut. Too aggressive a set can create a lot of uplift. 

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Others will correct me if I am wrong.  It sounds like you got the waxy finish when you used the blade like a chisel.  (Cutting angle of 25 deg.  Putting that blade, then in a low angle plane adds 12 deg for a cutting angle of 37 deg. It will cut fine but you won't get the same waxy results as a chisel and 25 degrees.

The finish that you use on your shelves will determine how the wood looks and feels more that the smoothness of the wood before finishing.

 

Good luck.

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