Saturday, February 20, 2016

Wooden plane tuning tricks

Some tricks to get a wooden plane up and running. Hardly my tricks, but usefull nonetheless.

A good working wooden plane needs:
- a flat sole.
- a well bedded iron.
- tight fitting wedge.
And a sharp edge of course.

The flat sole is not so difficult. I get close by planing with another plane. Very close, but never really close enough. So I lap the plane on some 120 grit sandpaper glued to a piece of thick glass. This goes very quickly, it's not a metal plane after all, so check often.

The bedding of the iron is checked with oil smeared on the backside of the iron. You can also use candle sooth, but oil is easy. Insert the oiled blade carefully in the blade, tighten the wedge and tap the iron downwards a little. Then remove everything again and have a look at the oil spots on the bed of the plane. You are looking for a good fit along the bottom and some touch points at the top. The bottom is most important. The middle should ideally not touch at all. I use a scraper to remove wood where I don't want it.

This is a patern I am very happy with.

And then the wedge. The fingers should be tight, especially at the bottom and at the top. Again, the bottom is more important. And they should fit tight on both sides equally otherwise the plane doesn't adjust straight. I check this with a very thin feeler gauge.

And then there were two jack planes. A larger 16" one with a 2 1/8" iron. And this one is 14" with a 2" iron. Both sharpened with a camber, the small one with more camber then the larger one.


  1. Nice work. I'll have to give your tips a try, I have a project like this on the burner...

  2. I am hardly an expert afert two planes, but I did research the subject quite extensively! Good luck with your project.

  3. why is it important to not let the middle section touch the iron? Is it not advisable to establish a complete flat surface so both the iron assembly and the body touch merrily?

    Impressive work - keep it up!

  4. There can always be a little seasonal movement, and the last thing you want is a bulge forming in the bed of your plane. Making it slightly hollow is good insurance against that. It's an old planemakers trick.