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  1. #1
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    Default Silky oak and hand planes

    I am working with silky oak for the first time and it is very difficult to plane with a hand plane. Lots of tear out. I know it was used by furniture makers in the pre power tool era so hand planing must be possible. Any advice out there? My plane is sharp and works well on other hard woods, so I am a bit mystified.

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  3. #2
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    Default Silky oak and hand planes

    What is your sharpening system? “Sharp” is a relative term, my irons are sharp enough for my current needs but to others they could be considered to be as blunt as very blunt things (Veritas mkii used on microfilm is my method BTW).

    Silky oak can have some wild grain but I don’t have any issues planing it so I guess what we need to know are a few more details about your plane and how you are setting it.

    So, how are you sharpening; what medium do you use and do you freehand or use a jig?
    What blade are you using?
    What is your plane? Or planes? Make, model and years if known.
    How has the plane been set up; has it ever been fettled?
    How far off the blade edge is the cap iron?
    And how deep a cut are you trying to take?

    If your plane is a generic Made In England Stanley 4 with an original blade... it can be made to work but can be a long journey. If it’s a maroon painted Stanley “Handyman”... use it as a doorstop. For doors you don’t like very much.
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  4. #3
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    Just following up on Chief Cliff's post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Tiff View Post
    “Sharp” is a relative term, my irons are sharp enough for my current needs but to others they could be considered to be as blunt as very blunt things (Veritas mkii used on microfilm is my method BTW).

    Silky oak can have some wild grain but I don’t have any issues planing it so I guess what we need to know are a few more details about your plane and how you are setting it.

    So, how are you sharpening;
    what medium do you use (sandpaper, diamond plates, film, water stone, oil stone)
    do you freehand or use a jig?
    What blade are you using?
    What is your plane? Or planes? Make, model and years if known.
    How has the plane been set up; has it ever been fettled? -- this is an often overlooked issue.
    How far off the blade edge is the cap iron? -- ideally it should be within about 1/32 inch for silky oak
    And how deep a cut are you trying to take?

    If your plane is a generic Made In England Stanley 4 with an original blade... it can be made to work but can be a long journey.
    If it’s a maroon painted Stanley “Handyman”... use it as a doorstop. For doors you don’t like very much.
    regards from Canada

    ian

  5. #4
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    First up, welcome to the forum. Second, you might have got more response if you'd posted in the section called "Hand Tools", that's where all the hand-plane tragics usually hang out. Anyways, you are obviously getting some attention, so let's hope we can help..

    I think we need to establish more precisely what your problem is, any chance of some pics?

    As others have said, "Silky Oak" is usually not a difficult wood to work, and I would expect even a moderately fettled & tolerably sharp plane would handle it with ease. "Southern" silky oak (Grevillea robusta) is quite soft and panes very easily, I couldn't imagine that giving any reasonably sharp plane any trouble. The most common species sold as SO now is Cardwellia sublimus ("Northern" silky oak), which is a bit harder and some bits can resist hand-planing, but it's generally easily tamed with a sharp bade & close-set iron. So that begs the question - how certain is your wood identification? Is it possible what you have is not a Silky oak at all?....

    Cheers,
    IW

  6. #5
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    Sometimes, even when planed with a well-fettled, sharp plane, it will feel rough, simply because of the nature of the timber. Also, sometimes the rays will tear out on quarter sawn timber. Just a fact of life, unless you plan to do a lot of sanding.
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  7. #6
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    Firstly, thank you all for responding and to IanW, for your words of welcome. I will certainly check out the Hand Tools section and meet up with some of my fellow tragics. )

    The timber species issue is a little difficult to confirm. I bought the board at the Maleny Wood Show, which is a large show held in Queensland each year. It does have the grain pattern that I see in antique silky oak furniture, and it is quarter sawn. I am not sure how to attach photos to this post but will sort that out and post some.

    As for the planes, I have two Stanley No.4's and a Stanley 5 1/2, which was not needed for this project. One of the No.4's is of the modern variety. I bought it from the local hardware set out on this hobby about a year ago. Not the cheap "Handyman" model, around $125, black in colour. The other No.4 is a lovely old plane, late 19th century. The older plane tears less than the new one, which leads me to fettling.

    New plane: I have flattened the sole, taken the edges off the corners of the sole, and I had filed the edge of the cap iron a bit. After posting this question, I did some research and realised I hadn't filed it enough. There is now no gap I can feel or see between the cap iron and the blade.

    Old plane: I haven't touched it other than sharpening the blade.

    My sharpening system is three diamond plates set into a board, 240, 600 and 1200 grit, followed by a leather strop.

    With the old plane, the blade is about 1.5mm in front of of the cap iron and the mouth is closed.

    I am working on the set up of the new plane to close the mouth more but after quite a few attempts, I have not worked out the right frog position to achieve this. I get really fine translucent shavings with the blade protruding about 3mm. If I set the blade any closer to the cap iron, it does not protrude through the mouth. Work in progress.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DjSteviet View Post
    The timber species issue is a little difficult to confirm. I bought the board at the Maleny Wood Show, which is a large show held in Queensland each year. It does have the grain pattern that I see in antique silky oak furniture, and it is quarter sawn. I am not sure how to attach photos to this post but will sort that out and post some.

    As for the planes, I have two Stanley No.4's and a Stanley 5 1/2, which was not needed for this project. One of the No.4's is of the modern variety. I bought it from the local hardware set out on this hobby about a year ago. Not the cheap "Handyman" model, around $125, black in colour. The other No.4 is a lovely old plane, late 19th century. The older plane tears less than the new one, which leads me to fettling.

    New plane: I have flattened the sole, taken the edges off the corners of the sole, and I had filed the edge of the cap iron a bit. After posting this question, I did some research and realised I hadn't filed it enough. There is now no gap I can feel or see between the cap iron and the blade.

    Old plane: I haven't touched it other than sharpening the blade.

    My sharpening system is three diamond plates set into a board, 240, 600 and 1200 grit, followed by a leather strop.

    With the old plane, the blade is about 1.5mm in front of of the cap iron and the mouth is closed.

    I am working on the set up of the new plane to close the mouth more but after quite a few attempts, I have not worked out the right frog position to achieve this. I get really fine translucent shavings with the blade protruding about 3mm. If I set the blade any closer to the cap iron, it does not protrude through the mouth. Work in progress.
    trying to setup a "handyman plane" is IMO an exercise in frustration. You may achieve success, but are more likely to get frustrated and give up.

    I suggest you concentrate on getting your "old" plane to work.
    It's a late 19th century model so one of the "good ones". Stanley US sort of lost the plot around WWII, some would say earlier given the fibreboard planes produced during the 1930s. A good source for entertainment (and some research) is Patrick Leach's Blood and Gore The Superior Works - Patrick's Blood & Gore: Preface

    Stanley's made in the UK or Australia stayed at a higher quality for much longer than in the US, but they are much harder to come across.
    regards from Canada

    ian

  9. #8
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    Default

    I'd say your problem has a lot to do with the sharpness and camber

  10. #9
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    Ok, Dj, it seems like you're on the right track. A couple of points from your post. First, if I'm reading you correctly, you have 1.5mm and 3mm setback respectively on your cap-irons. Even 1.5mm is at least double the setback required to begin controlling tear-out, and less is desirable as long as the cap-iron is straight, smooth and contacting the blade tightly. It takes a bit of fiddling to get the angle of the cap-iron where it meets the blade just-so, and there is some variation in what's recommended. I find a curve that ends with a tangent (judged from the file used for initial shaping) of somewhere between 50 & 60 degrees works for me on the woods I mostly plane. It's important the curve is very smooth and reasonably polished and the tip sharp & sraight. I buff mine with green compound for a good shine, but 1200 grit W&D will do. Use a flat, firm sanding block so you don't round the sharp edge of the cap-iron and make little gaps where chips can start working their way in. Even with a very well-fettled cap-iron, it's amazing how chips can still work they way under the tip of the cap-iron. Some woods leave a gummy residue on the cap-iron, so I make sure it's clean every time I sharpen.

    However, the second point is more worrying. Again, if I'm reading you correctly, you have to have the 3mm setback on the new plane to get enough blade exposure to make the plane cut? If that's so, either you've filed far too much off the cap-iron or it was too short to begin with. Perhaps a bit of both - the tolerances on these new things are not very tight! This topic has come up several times over the last few years, but in essence, the distance between the little oblong slot in the cap-iron that engages the cam of the adjuster yoke, and the tip of the cap-iron is critical. The cam can only move the blade assembly over a short distance, so the slot-to-tip distance has to be within +/- 1mm or so of the correct point. If it's not, you will find you run out of adjustment room before the blade extends far enough to cut (or conversely, if it's too long, you can't retract the blade far enough for a fine cut). The only cure for a too-short cap-iron is to find (or make) another. There is some variation between plane breeds,and even within the breeds, over time, so any old cap-iron won't necessarily suit your plane. I learnt the hard way about cap-irons, by spending much time making a new cap-iron & didn't pay enough attention to getting the cam slot in the right position. I ended up having to have the thumb-wheel almost off the stud before the blade was cutting. You'll find the wheel is much stiffer to operate when it's at the extremes of its travel because the cam starts to bind in the slot.

    I wouldn't fuss too much about mouth size. If you can get your cap-irons working properly, they'll do more to control tear-out than the rough mouths of any Stanley I've met. A too-tight mouth is more of a nuisance with many of our woods because they will choke too readily with a medium-to heavy cut...

    Cheers,
    IW

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