A fine demonstration by Veritas Tools Technical Expert Vic Tesolin explaining the use of scraper planes to a bunch of ♥Aussies♥.
It answers my question of what cutting angle for a hand plane I want to use for a smooth surface. In short, it depends.
The lower a blade’s angle of attack the more it cuts rather than scrapes which in return leads to a smoother surface.
If planing leads to tear-out, increase the cutting angle, because we favour a rougher (i.e. less shiny) over a torn-out surface.
Last resort is the cabinet scraper or scraper plane. Advantage of a scraper plane over a cabinet scraper is that its sole keeps the blade from digging into the wood. In other words, it keeps a flat surface flat.
- Start with a low angle plane, e.g. a #62 Jack plane with a 25° blade (37° angle of attack) or a Japanese plane which is typically equipped with a 38° cutting angle.
- If tear-out occurs, increase the angle with a different blade or a bevel down smoothing plane, e.g. a Stanley patterned #4 or a German style wooden plane which typically cut at angles of 45° and 50°, respectively.
- If tear-out is still unmanageable on higher angled planes such as a #62 equipped with a 50° blade (62° angle of attack), pull out the scraper which should remove any tear-out and will prepare the surface for finishing without resorting to sanding.
There is a whole series of Vic Tesolin talking at Peter Sefton Furniture School about hand planes. It’s well worth a watch.