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. Shavings can also jam between the back of the blade and the cap iron. Disassemble, remove the debris, and reassemble.
Why am I getting tear-out, 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 cutting angle is helpful. One of the benefits of the custom plane design is that you can swap out the frog for one better suited to the situation. All this assumes you’re planing in the prevailing direction of the grain. Experimentation and experience are the best teachers.
Image left: Wood surface with tear-out. Image right: Smooth wood surface without tear-out.
Why are there lines on the wood when I plane?
The sharp corners of the blade are the most common cause of track marks. If the blade is properly shaped and set for a light cut, making a lateral adjustment will solve the issue.
If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to go back and round the blade corners more or increase the curvature.
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.