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On the Benefits of Scraping Planes

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.

Key Takeaways

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.

A Recipe

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.