Monday, February 22, 2010

A Real Puzzler

Above is a photo of:

A. A hampster duvet.
B. A close-up of Howard Stern's hair.
C. An inexhaustible font of fun for my dog.
D. A pile of wood shavings from Hans, my scrub plane.
E. Hors d'oeuvres from the Annual Bevy of Beavers Convention.

If you answered C or're correct!

At our last woodworking club meeting, I helped give a presentation on handplanes to a group that is mainly comprised of power tool guys.*

I wasn't quite sure how to start, but then it came to me.

"Okay, say you have a large, rough cut board that you just know has gorgeous grain underneath all that fuzz, but the board has an insane twist. It's too wide for your jointer unless you first rip it in half. What do you do?"

From the crowd, my favorite heckler shouts "Throw it out!"

I was counting on that.

Really? You'd throw away a 10" wide, 6' long piece of black walnut because of a twist? With that, I tossed a short, rough cut board onto the bench, grabbed Hans, and in 20 seconds was showing the group some lovely (albeit, scalloped) wood grain.

I explained that as fast as that, you can knock high spots off your twisted board and make it stable enough to run through your power planer. This way, you keep the board intact and it's much faster than ripping, jointing, gluing, and then running it through the planer. (The last two photos are after power planing.)

Back in my shop, I'm preparing boards for a shaving horse. Every single board that I retrieved from my lumberyard (garage) is severely twisted. But I took my own advice and spent about 15 minutes with Hans on one particularly nice board and then ran it through the planer.

Once I trim the sapwood and ends, I'll have a nice pair of legs for the shaving horse.

So, why would anyone throw out or burn a beautiful piece of walnut like this when it's so easy to prepare it for milling?

Now there's a question I can't answer.

*I am in no way trying to cut on power tools or people (like me) who use them.


Anonymous said...

Just curios who your nemesis is !!!

Dave B

Kari Hultman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dyami said...

Nice post, Kari. As a power tool user myself, could recomend a good book or DVD to show me how to prep a board with a plane like that? Any chance you want to come out to Long Island and show me?

rgdaniel said...

I'm still awkward with my block plane... a big-ass smoothing plane might be wasted on me... you make a good point though...

Jeff Skory said...

Shaving horse? Shaving horse!!? Details, Kari, details please. lol

I just started on one over the weekend and am trying to figure out how to make the tapered mortises for the legs. I built a tapered reamer but it doesn't work. (need to regrind the blade and try again).

But seriously, I would love to know what design you settled on.

Jeff Skory

Darnell said...

Nicely done, Kari. I'm not so good with the hand plane jointing, it's an area I need to work on. I've got the luxury of a 12" jointer, so it's not often that I run into that problem. I've heard that handplaning is the better method, that the machine heats up the wood and induces stress.
You might want to keep your dog out of the walnut shavings. I don't know how the canines react, but it's a no-no around the equines.

Alfred Kraemer said...


There must be a fast-forward somewhere in the picture sequence: I don't see any scalloped 'tracks'.
I have an older German scrub plane(Anchor works) bought at a fleamarket. Very efficient with a round, tapered iron. They seem to be fairly abundant at fleamarket/antique shops.
I love to use them: no dust, only big, 'sweepable' chips.

I use the scrub plane with the grain in a herring-bone pattern but I have seen other going straight across. How did you plane the board?


Black said...

Hey Kari,
Those are some hefty shavings,how thick are they?I can imagine it's a fairly good workout pushing through that many wood fibres?
I don't have much call for a scrub plane as most of my timber is fairly small in size or is recycled from furniture but on the occasion I do have a small board with a twist I'll use my axe to knock the high corners off in prepartion for the bandsaw.This is even quicker than planing for rough dimensioning of small stock.

Unknown said...

The first time I did this in a shop I worked at my boss yelled at me for wasting time and his money. but after seeing me do it a few time on wider boards that was to big for our joiner he had me teach some of the younger cabinet makers to do the same, then he told me "thanks I was going to buy a bigger joiner but now I don't need to"


Pete said...


Nice work, I knew that had to be walnut with the colorful pile of shavings you have there.

Hopefully you found a good set of plans for your horse, not sure if Em ever sent you the plans I used for mine. I think an important tip is to use leather for at least one of the jaws- I saw Brian Boggs used leather on both clamping surfaces when he was on Roy's show, and I plan to do the same when I get a chance.

Pete O

Vic Hubbard said...

I'm rather fond of the sapwood in air dried walnut. It's very creamy!

Dan said...

Hey Kari,

Are you making an English style "bodger's" or a continental schnitzelbank? Judging from the book in the third picture, it looks like the English. I made the dumbhead version myself and like it most of the time, although I've been thinking it might be time to try the bodger style. Either way, they are loads of fun.

I'm looking forward to seeing it in action.

Woodbloke said...

Hi Kari - I don't use a scrub as such but instead I have a oldish woodie with a 50mm iron and a decentish camber. They're pretty easy to get hold of this side of the pond (as they may be on yours) but in Switzerland a couple of years ago, I strolled into a 'junk' shop and there was a big bucket of continental style scrubs...I resisted though.
Your last pic of the ABW looks good but I personally wouldn't use it...too much sap - Rob

Kari Hultman said...
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Darnell said...

I'm the one who's envious, Kari. Anyone can just go out and buy a jointer. Your skills need to be earned.

That's interesting about letting walnut sit for a year. I've heard it's good for weed control in places like the cracks of the sidewalk. I'm being a worry wart about Daisy, I'm sure she'll be fine. It's not like she's sleeping in shavings as bedding. I think dogs are tougher than we give them credit for anyway. When I was a kid my dog got half of my chocolate bars with no problems.

Kari Hultman said...

Dave, he's really my favorite heckler, not a nemesis. I changed it in the post. And he keeps the meetings hoppin'!

Dyami, I just did a quick google search "Scrub Plane Use" and came up with all kinds of great links. Chris Schwarz wrote an in depth article in one of them.

Bob, I should have shown a photo of the scrub plane and blade--it might more sense how it works so quickly. It does not give you a finished surface, but removes wood very quickly.

Jeff, I still haven't finalized the design, but there's a lot of work to do just in prepping the boards. The legs are going to be dadoed (maybe with a sliding dovetail) into the side rails.

Darnell, a 12" jointer! Wow, I'm envious. That's a good point about the walnut shavings. Daisy's rarely in my shop, so she doesn't get into it them often. I use shavings as compost, but I've heard that if you let walnut sit for a year beforehand, it won't hurt your plants by leaching nutrients out of the soil.

Alfred, I added a note that the last two photos are after power planing. Sorry for the confusion. I planed with the grain and diagonally--whatever worked to knock off the high spots.

Black, I didn't measure the thickness but they were pretty chunky. Working with planes is a good workout for sure (and I can always use a workout!). That's an excellent use for an axe. I love working with them as well.

Joey, that's cool--I've never heard of a scrub plane being used in a commercial shop.

Pete, Emily did send me photo of your shaving horse--it's great! I watched Roy's episode with Brian so get more ideas. I liked his seat design where it was tilted forward a bit, so your feet naturally push against the foot rest.

Vic, what's your address--I'll mail it to you! ; )

Dan, I found a bunch of cool designs but I'm leaning towards the bodger's bench for most of the features. I'm hesitant to start actually building it because I keep finding more things I'd like to include in the design.

Rob, my scrub plane is made by E.C. Emmerich of Germany. It's so tough and well made--beech I think. I'm going to trim the sapwood off the edge of that board. I don't so much mind how it looks for a project like this, but it's not as hard as the heartwood.

Kari Hultman said...

Darnell, I also line walking paths with walnut shavings in the hopes it helps with weeds. Doesn't seem to help much since the weeds take over quickly if we don't keep after them. *sigh*

Grover said...

Ah man. I really was leaning towards A. A hampster duvet.

I really need to get some hand tools. I want to make cool shavings like that. :)

Sgt42RHR said...

Dyami, The DVD you are looking for is by Rob Cosman and is called Rough to Ready. This is exactly what he does in the DVD. Very useful.


Eric Madsen said...

Great post as usual Kari. Your blog is always the perfect mix of style and substance.

I would recommend Chris Schwarz video course medium fine for anyone wanting to see this process in action.

I would add that in my opinion even with a big jointer (I've just upped mine to 12") that hand planing is fast (enough) and works better (I should say work best together)- why do I say this? because hand tools remove less material and only where you want to remove it. After I get it close with a scrub, jack plane, and my winding sticks I take the board to the power jointer, then back to the bench to get it even flatter with the #7 jointer plane; removing any snipe or bumps that would likely telegraph through the planer.

Hand planes don't make a bunch of noise or dust, and most importantly for me they are a joy to use.

Unknown said...

Great post Kari,
I am currently working with some twisted, cupped and bowed rough cherry boards. I have them clamped down to my workbench and using a low angle jack with a toothed blade across the grain followed with a card scraper to remove the rough stuff and start the flatting process. Now that I can see the gain I am going to rough cut the boards to length and width. I waste less material when I flatten two or more small boards compared to one large board.


Eric said...

Everybody should have a "Hans" in their arsenal.
Nice post Kari!

Kari Hultman said...

Careful, Grover, hand tools are addictive. ; )

John, thank you for posting the information.

Eric, thanks for mentioning Chris' video. You bring up a good point about power tool marks. I've also found that a power-planed board is not dead flat. When I run a long handplane over the surface, shallow recesses are revealed on the board.

Bob, I've never used a toothing plane but have seen them in action and they seem like they'd be a great addition to a shop.

Thanks, Eric. :o)

Extremely Average said...

Wonderful post. I haven't bought my first plane yet, but this made me want to do it sooner than later. I loved the pictures.

Phil Marquez said...

Hand Planing Can and Is Fun,For me anyway!