Troubleshooting & Techniques
Even with a sharp, properly adjusted plane, things sometimes go awry. Here are some suggestions for solving the most common issues, as well as for looking after your plane properly so it performs well for years to come.
Why Are Shavings Jamming?
Shavings jam if the mouth opening is too tight and/or the blade is set too aggressively. Retract the blade if the shaving is too thick, but if a heavier shaving is desired, open the mouth.
How Can I Make It Easier To Plane End Grain?
One strategy is to moisten the surface with alcohol or mineral spirits. This softens the fibers, making them easier to cut. Another tactic is to skew the plane, which has the effect of reducing the cutting angle.
I’m Getting Splintering On The Far Side Of An End-grain Cut. How Do I Prevent This?
In addition to dampening the surface and skewing the plane, try using a sacrificial backer block to provide support to the wood at the end of the cut.
Why Am I Getting Tear-out On Face Grain, And How Can I Prevent It?
Tear-out results when the plane blade lifts the wood fibers before cutting them; this typically occurs in areas of reversing grain. Tear-out prevention starts with a sharp blade. The second tactic is to close up the mouth so the toe plate supports the wood, allowing it to be cut cleanly before it can lift and break. Sometimes a higher bevel angle is helpful. All this assumes you’re planing in the prevailing direction of the grain. Experimentation and experience are the best teachers.
What Ongoing Maintenance Should I Perform?
Apart from sharpening the blade, rust prevention is the biggest maintenance issue. Avoid planing wet wood, especially woods with a high tannin content (e.g., oak).
After a working session, take out the blade and use a soft brush to remove lingering shavings and dust. Periodically apply a silicone-free wax to the body to seal out moisture. Boeshield T-9 and Veritas Tool Wax both work well. Every so often, strip the plane down completely to give it a thorough cleaning and lubricate the moving parts.
If there is a risk of the tool jostling about in a toolbox, storing it in a plane sack or wrapping it in an old towel provides some protection.