1st July 2022, 12:30 AM #1
Sharpening advice for planing wiggly Tuart
Hi All, I have finally started my Moravian workbench from some Tuart timber I obtained raw from the wood show about 5 years ago so its now seasoned. I'll post another for the workbench build when more progress is achieved. For those interested Tuart is a wood native to Western Australia and less common these days. It is approx 25% harder and denser than say the more common Jarrah and much lighter in colour.
I have laminated the top and the Tuart is displaying its well known properties of variable grain directions especially side grain. I have a fair bit of tear out most caused during the sizing of timber. This timber is hard and "chippy", my Sherwood spiral thicknesser carbide inserts had fine nicks within the first hour. I've attached a few photos so you can see what I am dealing with. I will say the good areas are brilliant - smooth, hard with a lovely colour and shine from the plane. It's just the random grain direction switching which is the headache.
I need (would like) to finish with a hand plane to level up the top (as opposed so RO sanding). I have a new model Stanley Sweetheart low angle jack No.62 with an A2 iron - Norris adjuster. I think it was great out of the box. I initially put a small secondary bevel 30º 15 back strokes each grade 400 to 1500 grit paper on glass and it was a joy (almost a tear in the eye) to push with very little force and take whisps on compliant grain in the Tuart. But of course tear out continued.
So I have done the Matrix thing (as I do) and plugged in all the threads to the back of my head I could find here on sharpening, planing tricky wood etc. I see that my local compadre Derek Cohen and David W have some good threads here and I have seen David's YT videos. So I have had a go at the micro edge buffing technique. I'll try not to use the mythical creature name out of respect to David . On the LAJ I put a half mm 38º secondary bevel (primary 25 of course) and went up to 3000 grit paper on glass both back and front of the BU iron and then used a 3 stitch calico wheel in a drill with white compound to try to strengthen the edge using that method David has been communicating. I don't have any diamond plates or stones due to cost considerations for the low use I would give them.
The tear out is certainly lower with a strengthened edge but still getting furry bits and if I go too fast the tear out occurs. The plane is a bit harder. to push of course.
Here are my questions (sorry for the ramble getting here)
Do you think that I have done the right thing?
How do I know I have got the desired edge? - It's too small to see of course.
I have a variety of other planes in various states of tune. My previous favourite a type 15 No.4 ½ which gives similar tear out but is harder to push - could be tuned better I expect. I also have a number 5, 6 and 8 Stanley at various ages and stages of tuneup.
Thanks in advance Tony
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1st July 2022, 02:05 AM #2
Tony, using your #62, tearout is not going to be less with the Unicorn. The Unicorn strengthens the edge but, unless it also creates a cutting angle of no less than 60 degrees (preferably, use a 50 degree bevel to create a 62 degree cutting angle), then you will still get tearout.
The #4 1/2 should work well as long as the chipbreaker is closed down.
I am at home on Saturday (away from Sunday), and you are welcome to bring both planes around to me along with some of your Tuart for a setting up and planning session. Just let me know. I am in Rossmoyne.
Regards from Perth
1st July 2022, 02:26 AM #3
Thanks Derek, that is most generous of you. I guess I'll send a PM once I work out how. I won't bring the bench top it weighs 60+kg .
1st July 2022, 08:16 AM #4.
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Derek versus Tuart - something to read about, - I'm betting on Derek!
1st July 2022, 10:55 AM #5
I bought some 100 X 25 Black Butt timber from Log Dog some years ago ( delivered by Bushmiller). The grain looks nearly the same as what you are dealing with. When I was getting close to size I realised that the grain was allowing the Thicknesser to pull out pockets of grain. Slicing with sharp plane blades would not solve the problem. I ran the timber through my wide drum sander until it got me a flat surface. It was slow because the sander only takes off a poofteenth at a time. In the end I got a nice flat board showing off unusual grain patterns. It was worth the perseveranceJust do it!
Kind regards Rod
1st July 2022, 12:42 PM #6
Thanks for your thoughts. Sanding on a drum sander would be a great option but as the bench top weighs a bit over 60kg (I weighed the two halves before the final glue up) and the fact that a drum sander is not in my "shed", a random orbiter would have to do. This would take ages even with my ancient GMC 150mm (if it still goes). I have a cheapie belt sander but not very good at keeping it level even with a guide. To remove most of the tear out I might need to take off a couple of mm. Most of my pieces are oversize from Will Myers suggested dimensions for the Moravian bench so planing will be good I expect. Failing that some form of filling might have to be the go or turn my lathe into a drum sander.
Having seen David W's YT on planing (block and then smoother planes) difficult timbers, I expect Derek will sort out my blade sharpening as BobL notes. I was expecting to have to go to a steeper secondary bevel angle. But like any good woodworker I was creeping up on it and stopped by here to ask everyone's thoughts.
Will post results here in due course.One day lad all this will be yours.
2nd July 2022, 09:15 PM #7
Just a quick note to say a very big thank you to Derek for spending a couple of hours with me this afternoon. I will make a more in depth post in the next day or two. I need to digest what Derek imparted to me, take some photos and work out an action plan.
The short version for those who cannot wait is we can tame the wiggly hard dry Tuart with a hand plane. Derek produced a surface that is better than I could have hoped for and will require little if any sanding before some form of finish for the workbench (yet to be determined).
TTFNOne day lad all this will be yours.
4th July 2022, 10:47 AM #8
I am looking forward to Tony's comments, but will add a few of mine while the memory is still reasonably fresh.
Firstly, it was wonderful to have Tony visiting. Our passion for woodworking was mutually infectious, and it would have been easy to spend all afternoon making shavings. However, I had some chores to do before the evening, as the next day Lynnndy and I were off to parts unknown.
Tony arrived with a Stanley #4 1/2 smoother and a Stanley #62 (the modern version) low angle jack. He also had several lengths (offcuts) of his Tuart bench top. This Tuart was really beautiful, creamy wood, but so much reversing grain! Hard, hard, hard and so dry.
His #4 1/2 was nicely fettled but the original blade needed work. The back had a low spot in the centre, and the bevel had been ground to 30 degrees (as I recall). We flattened the back on his 400/1000 diamond stone, and then Shapton Pro 1000, 6000 and 13000 Sigma waterstones. It looked okay after a new 32 degree hollow grind and honing to 13000. The Stanley chipbreaker needed a full re-do at the leading edge. It was rough, and we subsequently honed a 50 degree leading edge using an LN honing guide.
Using the #4 1/2 was not a happy experience. Something is off somewhere. It kept pulling around and behaving like a squirrel. The blade was set up correctly: the frog appeared square and close to the edge of the mouth, and the chipbreaker was set about 0.4-0.5mm back from the edge of the blade. Shaving were choppier than desired. I think that the problem was the blade itself - that the edge was not holding (I did not look at it as we only took a few swipes) or was too thin and flexible (yet I have been successful with similar blades).
The Stanley #62 has a poorly designed levercap (compared with the Veritas LA Jack). The levercap is a broad thing that covers the width of the blade. There is no where to hook fingers to grip the plane when shooting. This made it harder to control on a shooting board. The Veritas was easy by comparison, and slightly more surface area for registration. Both planes managed good endgrain shavings.
To hand there was a LN #4 1/2 (the bronze Anniversary model, with original A2 blade, but a 45 degree frog in place of the original 50 degree one), a bronze LN #3 with PM-V11 blade, Stanley #3 with 1/8" thick Clifton O1 blade, a Stanley Bedrock #604 with a M4 blade, and a Veritas Custom #4 (with a 42 degree frog). These were honed to 13000. All were set up with closed chipbreakers.
All these planes had no difficulty planing the Tuart. It was noticeable that the #4 1/2 was easier to maintain momentum owing to its higher mass. The Veritas, with the lower cutting angle, left the smoothest finish. All managed full-width shavings - streamers. There was a slight difference in the quality of the surface from each, as based on the amount of mild (emphasise mild) tearout remaining. The tearout was more like a matt finish in spots. This would run for a couple of inches not more than a 1/8" wide in spots. The worst performer was the Stanley #3 with the O1 blade, and then the LN #3 with the PM-V11 blade. The #4 1/2 was best, followed very closely by the Veritas. Overal, the finish off these planes was pretty good and the "tearout" would disappear in a panel.
Over to you Tony.
Regards from Alice Springs
4th July 2022, 05:01 PM #9
Thanks again Derek and for your notes above. Here are some pics of before and after planing (with a decent prepared iron ). These first two are a really variable bit from near a knot. Before left, after right.
These next two show how the grain alternates side by side in direction. Off the Thicknesser some of these tear outs are quite deep in the bench top. Whilst the picture close up shows some furriness its is much better after planing and is essentially smooth to the touch. The closer pictures always make things look worse.
This last one is a longer piece that we planed (Derek mostly straight off the table saw. The first one is after a pass to remove the table saw marks and is typical of what I am starting with in places. The after one is an area where we had planed sufficiently to see the improvement. A bit had to be taken off as the tear out is deep (relatively) in places. You can also see the effect of some of the checking around the edges which was the surface exposed to the air when seasoning.
Some comments as per Derek's above. Re the No 4 1/2 Stanley - Derek yesterday I pulled the blade and cap iron out and had a look. There were chips between the two. This is probably why it was jumping around. I could also see light on one side (when cleaned) when the two were tightened together. But I had a couple more tries and chips went been the blade and cap iron every time. It didn't do this with the old geometry.
As an "experiment" I took the blade (Titan brand feels slightly thicker than the Stanley and newer) and cap iron from my No. 6 (the cap iron was much better and the blade was flat) and set them up as you had done with the 4 ½. The only difference being I could only go up to 3000 grit wet/dry sandpaper on glass as I do not have fine stones. However, the No 4 ½ now worked much better I could get longer shavings and was not squirrely. So I think the original blade and shipbreaker are essentially not suitable for this hard wood and the high angle on the chip breaker just forces the chips in between.
A note - I do have a bit of difficulty planing for two reasons, a) I only do projects every couple of years or so so no muscle memory on how to plane correctly (thanks for the reminder Derek) and b) I am doing this in a Black and Decker workmate. I have to stand on the footrest to stop it tipping over pushing through this Tuart. Just an aside the only time I had to stand on the workmate previously was getting through a knot in any other Timbers (Jarrah, Marri, Pine).
So my plan is to get a decent blade and chip breaker for the 4 ½ ( Veritas make them for the Stanleys when in stock ). I could get a thicker blade for it but may require filing out the throat and/ or moving the frog around. I will also get another blade for the Sweetheart LAJ so I can put a high angle on it (if the 4 ½ new irons team does not do the job) and have a lower one for the shooting. The Veritas LA smoothing 2" blade will fit. I will also make a hot dog for it and a side track to keep it from rocking as Derek showed me when shooting. On the existing LAJ blade once I have put it back to 25º I will try and put a unicorn edge on it. I might also get a fine stone or two if the price is right - remembering that I am and infrequent woodworker.
My LAJ did plane better than the original 4 ½ setup but then I put a 38º small bevel and a unicorn buff but this was not the right thing to do ie the 38º + unicorn. It still worked Ok for shooting but would be better lower.
Finally if anyone is wondering what I did to this Tuart to make it so hard. As I mentioned in my first post I bought it raw five years ago and it has sat under my covered back pergola out of the sun, sticked but other wise untouched. I sealed the ends with that white gloop you can buy. Once or twice it did get a little surface water when a storm pushed rain past the pergola / wall seal. For those who do not know WA it gets to 45º for a few days in Summer and regularly to 40º. We mostly have low humidity as well. So nothing out of the ordinary for air seasoning.
I think that covers it all and remember when looking at the pics they show more detail than you can feel and see by eye (at least my eyes).
Oh yes this is some old Jarrah from a demolished house roof truss straight from the same Thicknesser - much easier to work with than Tuart. I can see why Tuart fell out of favour with flooring makers despite the rarity of supply. Edit - you can see in the second pic grain that shows similar tendencies to the Tuart (and a chip I noticed now) but as its softer and less dense the Jarrah is so smooth that a 80x40x700mm piece nearly slips out of my fingers picking it up from one end.
Feel free to ask questions / comment in case I have missed anything - this post is long enough.One day lad all this will be yours.
4th July 2022, 05:06 PM #10
Tony, I think reference to "David" may confuse readers.
Regards from Alice Springs
4th July 2022, 05:34 PM #11
Sorry Derek (I am thinking David as I am typing this), my brain does that especially if I am thinking of two people at once. All fixed I hope.One day lad all this will be yours.
4th July 2022, 11:43 PM #12
One more bit of information, which will be important to some ...
One other smoother of relevance used was the Veritas BUS, with a 50 degree bevel (62 degrees cutting angle). This took gossamer shavings - just wonderful. However the surface quality remaining was not as good as that of the planes with a close set chipbreaker. A HNT Gordon smoother, which has a 60 degree bed, was also attempted. This fared even more poorly, with broken shavings. I would not take this result too much to heart as the sharpness of the blade was in question (I just took it off the shelf, as I did the BUS, but the latter was sharp).
The point to be made was the close set chipbreaker trumped the high cutting angle for control of tearout.
Regards from Alice Springs
5th July 2022, 12:12 AM #13
I'd persevere with the blade and chip breaker that you took to Derek's place. If chips are getting in between them, it is due to a gap between blade and chip breaker and not the steeper angle that Derek put on the leading edge. The iron that you have will just need touching up more often, but if you hone a hollow ground bevel, touching up an iron takes no time at all. If you are looking for a low cost upgrade, Mujingfang sell a HSS plane iron which will provide a bit more wear resistance than the original Stanley iron. I'm not looking to open the metallurgy can of worms here - its just an observation of mine from using both types on our local woods. I have the Mujingfang blade in my scrub plane.
Lastly I have no doubt Tuart is a tricky wood to plane, but I'm yet to see the wood that cannot be tamed by the close set chip breaker. Also the ex construction Jarrah that you have used for your comparison is the most conducive to hand tool woodworking that Jarrah gets. It was cut from large straight forest trees ie the best of the best. The tuart tree your boards are from is more likely to come from woodland or a paddock or verge etc. The tree has had to deal with more lateral forces from wind, and hence why the grain swirls around like it does on your boards. There are boards from paddock Jarrahs that are equally difficult in regards to grain etc, which is more likely what is to be available from now on due to the lack of forest trees being harvested for timber.
5th July 2022, 12:21 AM #14
Yes definitely agree re the chip breaker.
I mentioned to Derek that YT tossed up an old (Japanese) educational video called Educational Video on "Influence of the Cap-iron on Hand Plane." This is the link EDIT: removed YT link as this Vimeo one has subtitles https://vimeo.com/158558759 uploaded there by giant cypress.
The new link has subtitles but watch the pictures carefully and how the slow motion "tears or not" through the timber. High angle does have benefit but the best IMHO is when the chip breaker is closer if I am observing correctly.
Many have seen this video including Derek but for those that need it here it is. I do better with pictures as well as words to understand things.One day lad all this will be yours.
5th July 2022, 12:41 AM #15
Hi Zac, thanks for the blade suggestion, I'll give it the "mirror treatment" (ie look into it for those not familiar with the phrase).
I think the old 4 ½ irons are "dead" though. I understand re gaps etc. Originally when I was given the plane the irons had a lump of corrosion in the middle near the front and the blade was bent concave on the flat side. I had a go at fixing this up and Derek made it good on Saturday ie no gaps. So I think they are just too thin now. With these hard Tuart chips I am visualising them like nails. I have the pair from the No.6 which works well now I have copied Dereks advised setup.
Interesting knowledge re the Jarrah. They are always knocking down old houses around here to split the land for two or more houses so I have collected a fair bit of this Jarrah. Some of the larger floor joists are a bit more varied I have found with more gum and other defects. Other than the nail holes the roof stuff comes out so nice and I am using it for the short stretchers on the Moravian bench. I am also going to see how a 2 ½ inch screw for the leg vice turns out to with some of it as well as a piece of the Tuart which is nice and clean on four sides - not all of it is nasty.One day lad all this will be yours.
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