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HOW TO USE

A JACK PLANE AND SMOOTHING PLANE

V. Ryan © 2002 - 2009

 

PDF FILE - CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE WORKSHEET BASED ON INFORMATION BELOW
 

When a pupil uses a smoothing or jack plane for the first time it is difficult to plane a surface accurately or smoothly. The plane tends to stick or to dig into the wood surface with the result being a damaged surface. If a few basic rules are followed this technique can be mastered.

A typical smoothing plane is seen opposite and below. It is used for general planing of wood and is a smaller version of a jack plane.

   
 
 
The normal purpose of the larger jack plane (seen below) is to level the edge of a piece of wood (called producing a straight edge). When preparing a length of wood a straight edge and straight side are needed, called the ‘face edge’ and ‘face side’.
   
The diagram below shows how the smoothing / jack plane should be held whilst it is being used.
 
 
 
CHECKING THE ACCURACY OF A FACE EDGE AND FACE SIDE
 
A try square is used to check that both the face edge and face side are perfectly flat and level. across the width of the wood It may be necessary to use a plane to remove more wood, ensuring accurately finished surfaces.
   
A long steel rule / straight edge is also used to check that the face edge and side are perfectly straight along their entire length. If light shines through at any point of contact, then the surface is not straight/flat.
A try square can then be used to accurately mark out the wood in preparation for cutting to length. The stock of the try square should fit perfectly against the planed edge and side of the wood. Without a face side and face edge, marking out  is often inaccurate.
 
The diagram below shows a woodworkers try square being placed against the face side of a piece of wood. A marking knife is being used to mark across the face edge. Then the material will  be cut accurately to size. If the material is cut on the waste side of the marking out lines, the ends should form an accurate 90 degrees.
 
 
 

BASIC GUIDANCE ON THE USE OF THE PLANE

 

1. The wood must be placed level and firmly in the vice.

2. Always plane in the direction of the grain. Examine the wood carefully, it may be obvious which way the grain is flowing.

3. If the plane sticks whilst in use, turn the wood the opposite way round in the vice. Now the grain may be pointing in the right direction.

4. Rub a little candle wax on the bottom of the plane. This will help the plane glide across the surface of the wood.

5. Make sure that little of the blade is sticking out off the bottom of the plane. Too much of the blade will make using the plane very difficult and it may damage the surface of the wood.

6. Always place the plane at the end of the piece of wood and push it firmly across the entire length, without it lifting off the surface. Lift the plane back to the starting position. Pulling the plane back along the wood surface will 'blunt' the blade quickly.

7. Always use a sharp blade.

 

   
Using  smoothing plane - plane the edge of a piece of softwood until it is level.
   

CLICK HERE FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF PLANES

   

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