View Full Version : Beginner needs help with 14" Jack Plane
11-16-2000, 05:22 AM
I am a beginner who just bought a 14" jack plane to level the surface of my workbench. I honed just the end of the "knife" edge to a slightly steeper angle than the factory bevel angle. I have tried adjusting the distance from the edge of the knife to the edge of the "cap iron". I have tried moving the "frog" back so the knife just clears the opening in the bottom of the plane base, and moving it forward so the knife protrudes from plane base 3/4 of the way forward in the opening. No matter what I try, extending the knife from the bottom of the plane base even the smallest amount is enough to make it try to dig in, making it impossible to push the plane forward more than 1/2 an inch or so without a great deal of force. What am I doing wrong?
11-16-2000, 01:26 PM
Could you be trying to plane against the grain of the wood? Try planing the wood the other direction. You'll want thin ribbons of wood and so don't set your blade too deep.
11-21-2000, 02:58 PM
If the jack plane you are using is brand new then you will need to tune it up first. You need first make sure the bottom of the plane is flat around its mouth. Get a 100 grit 3x34 inch sanding belt and some 220 grit silicon carbide (wet/dry sandpaper). Attach the belt to a flat surface with some tape. I use a piece of 1/4 inch thick glass as a lapping surface, but a table saw top works well too. With the blade retracted all the way run the plane back and forth over the belt. Do this until you have a uniform pattern of scratches on the bottom. Repeat this process again with the fine grit SC sandpaper.
The next step in the tuneup is to get the chipbreaker to seat against the blade with no gap. Use the SC sandpaper to sharpen up the leading edge of the chipbreaker until is sits perfectly flat on the blade. The chipbreaker is the piece of metal that screws onto the back of the blade.
For general flattening work I leave about a 1/16" gap between the tip of the blade and the edge of the chipbreaker. Likewise I leave the frog set so that the mouth opening between the tip of the blade and the front of the mouth is about 1/16".
Make sure your blade is REALLY sharp. I use the "Scary Sharp" method to keep my chisels and plane blades sharp. Waterstones work well too.
Tighten up the lever cap and advance the blade a little at a time until it start to make shavings. If the shavings are coming from one side of the blade only then use the lateral adjuster to angle the blade slightly away from the side making the shavings. Keep on advancing the blade and tweaking the lateral adjuster until you are producing uniform shavings with a minimum of effort.
Don't get discouraged. Once you figure out how to get a plane running smoothly you will be amazed at what can be accomplished with it.
This is very very good advaice. In woodworking the first and most important skill to learn is how to setup and sharpen tools. You can't do much with any tool that comes from the store. Almost all need to be worked into a useful piece of equipment.
11-28-2000, 03:49 PM
I can reccomend an article by Ian Kirby from the August 2000 issue of the Woodworker's Journal. It is without question the best article on using and setting up a plane that I have read. Ian even teaches "fettling", the process of modifying or tweaking a plane so that its physical properties will allow it to work properly. If you would like to see an electronic verison of the article, you can sign up for the Woodworker's Journal eZine (its free), and then search the archive for the term Planecraft. It will teach you what you need to know. There is a place to sign up for the eZine on the homepage of Woodworking.com, just look for the eZine banner and click!
Rob Johnstone, editor, Woodworker's Journal