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How do you get ultra thin plane shavings

ChrisB's picture

Hi folks,


I'm an intermediate level woodworker and thought my plane knowledge was fairly solid. Apparently there'a more to learn.


The other day I saw a photo of about a six inch long, one inch wide plane shaving and the thickness was being measured with a digital electronic caliper. The reading on the caliper was 0.000" meaning the shaving was less that half a thou thick. WOW!


Just to see how well I could do, I went downstairs and grabbed my trusty LN 41/2 which had been recently rehoned on my dead flat 8000 grit waterstone and not used since, and started making shavings. Try as I did, I could not get anything thinner that .002"without ending up with dust instead of a one piece shaving.


Bummer. I tried pine, aspen and rock hard sugar maple in that order. I could have cheated by applying a lot of pressure on the caliper but chose not to.


Anybody have a suggestion as to what I need to do to get those ultra thin shavings? Not so much because I can conjure up a need for such performance, as there must be something about plane maintenance or use I don't know.


Thanks.


Chris

SawdustSteve's picture

(post #103269, reply #1 of 36)

.002 is not bad for a first try. I'll bet that if I put you in a REAL race-car, you wouldn't come anywhere near the 200 MPH mark on your first couple of laps. Same with planing. Just learning how to REALLY control the backlash in your depth adjuster takes a bit of practice. We hold a 'thinnest shaving' contest at our local woodworking show. One guy did a 50 mile round-trip just because he forgot to bring his 'super-special' plane with him. If memory serves me correctly, he got .0015, but the shaving was 1 1/2" wide and several feet long. I want the guy who turned out a .000 to do a shaving 3 or 4 feet long. THAT is control. By the way, the 'thinnest shaving contest' is a popular attraction. We even have several 'loaner' planes for those who just want to give it a try. SawdustSteve

WillGeorge's picture

(post #103269, reply #29 of 36)

My old plane makes shavings so thin ya can't see em!...
OH, I forgot to put the blade in again?

Have a great day.. Life is wonderful even if you are having a bad day!

joinerswork's picture

(post #103269, reply #30 of 36)

Will,


" I forgot to put the blade in again?"


That got a chuckle out of me.  Thanks for the laugh.

 


Those obsessed with making shavings instead of furniture would be well served by looking into getting a spill plane.


Cheers,


Ray Pine

WillGeorge's picture

(post #103269, reply #35 of 36)

Why I do it.. I 'thought' it was funny too..

Have a great day.. Life is wonderful even if you are having a bad day!

highfigh's picture

(post #103269, reply #2 of 36)

Make sure the sharpening stone is totally flat and true across the width and along its length. Also, recheck the sole of your plane to make sure it's also flat and true in the same ways. Then, check the iron to make sure it's either really straight across the edge or has a slight crown to it. Were your shavings fluffy? You should be able to get that from your plane since it's a L-N. I have an English made Bailey #4 with a non-laminated iron and can get fluffy shavings from hard maple. Have you checked the setup of the frog? When you adjust the depth of cut, make sure you are turning the adjuster so the iron is going out, not in. This minimizes the chance of thread lash causing the iron to back off when you first start planing.

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
ChrisB's picture

(post #103269, reply #3 of 36)

Thanks. The waterstone is flat. I draw three equally spaced vertical lines  and four eqally spaced horizontal pencil lines on my stone before every honing. I then rub on 180 grit wet-dry paper on a piece of thick glass until the lines are gone. 


I always adjust the blade depth of cut forward to take up lost motion AKA backlash.


Could you please explain "check the setting of the frog"?


Shavings are definitely fluffy.


Chris

highfigh's picture

(post #103269, reply #4 of 36)

Your frog should be able to move forward and back, depending on what you're trying to do. If your shavings are fluffy, their thickness is pretty negligable. The other guy probably mashed them to get the reading he did. It would be nice to know how he measured them and if he used the same device you did.

Fluffy is good.

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."


Edited 2/5/2006 8:46 pm by highfigh

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
Kleck's picture

(post #103269, reply #5 of 36)

I'm not some sort of super duper ww guru; just a hobbyist, and all my Veritas planes will cut less than .001 shavings any time I adjust them down from the usual .002-.005 setting. They are all well sharpened, have flat soles and being as those are the only planes I own, I don't even KNOW what prevents someone else from getting the same results. I take NO credit for their performance. :)


Edited 2/6/2006 1:45 am ET by Spike2

QCInspector's picture

(post #103269, reply #6 of 36)

I measure for a living. Calipers may have graduations to .001 for vernier or dial and.0005 on digital but should not be counted on to be correct. The standards for calibration allow up to .005 error in 6.0 inches so you are not going to get accurate readings until you get your hands on a micrometer that reads in ten thousands of an inch and has been properly calibrated. We calibrate ours every 3 months and verify them every time before and during measuring(aircraft parts)to make sure they are good. While there may be some bragging rights with being able to make a shaving for a microscope slide, but will take a long time to flatten a table top and I don't think anyone can see the difference in the surface between a sub.001 and a .003 shaving. As for a long shaving. I took a timber framing course with Ted Benson and he described seeing a Japanese timber framer take a single shaving down the length of a long beam including turning at the end and returning to the start point. Now that is an accomplishment! Enjoy your quest for perfection.

DCarr10760's picture

(post #103269, reply #7 of 36)

Amen to that!  Proper calibration and adequate precision.


Also using correct measuring technique.  I a bragging friend of mine tested one with a dial caliper and proudly announced that his shaving was .0005.  I looked at his caliper, it wasn't zeroed accurately (parallax error) for starters and was only graduated in .001's.  Plus he was applying way too much force. 


I re-measured (correctly) and it was .002!  When I measure mine I use a micrometer (with verniers) it has a ratcheting knob to limit the torque to 2 lbs, which I think is standard.  Correct me if I'm wrong.


I've never been able to get a full-width shaving below .001.  :-(


But my furniture turns out silky-smooth and the only time I use sandpaper is between finish coats, so I guess I can live without the thinnest shavings on the block!


Personally I would rather have a plane that took .010-inch shavings through figured wood with no tear-out!  That would impress me way more than fluffy curlies!


David C.

QCInspector's picture

(post #103269, reply #14 of 36)

"has a ratcheting knob to limit the torque to 2 lbs, which I think is standard. Correct me if I'm wrong"

I'm not sure what the standard is for knobs, but 2 lbs makes me feel..... inadequate......

John_D's picture

(post #103269, reply #17 of 36)

Personally I would rather have a plane that took .010-inch shavings through figured wood with no tear-out!  That would impress me way more than fluffy curlies!


I'm just surprised WillGeorge hasn't pitched in with a comment on fluffly curlies... :)


My goal is for my work to outlast me.  Expect my joinery to get simpler as time goes by.
My goal is for my work to outlast me.  Expect my joinery to get simpler as time goes by.
JeffHeath's picture

(post #103269, reply #21 of 36)

But my furniture turns out silky-smooth and the only time I use sandpaper is between finish coats, so I guess I can live without the thinnest shavings on the block!


Personally I would rather have a plane that took .010-inch shavings through figured wood with no tear-out!  That would impress me way more than fluffy curlies!


 


Amen to that, brother.  It's the only thing that really matters.  I want the plane to take off 1/8" in one pass with one hand on it, while I'm eating a sandwich, and be polished and ready for finish.  Wouldn't that be something?!


Jeff

A distinguished graduate of the School of Hard Knocks
highfigh's picture

(post #103269, reply #22 of 36)

Oh, yeah? Well, I want to be able to split a 2x12 in one pass and have square, straight, glassy edges on both pieces.

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
highfigh's picture

(post #103269, reply #23 of 36)

I'm sorry.

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
DCarr10760's picture

(post #103269, reply #24 of 36)

Well,


I want to hit a log with the butt end of a splitting maul in just the right spot and have it break apart, fly up in the air and fall to earth assembled into a Bowback Windsor.


So far all I get is firewood...


But I keep trying!


David C.

highfigh's picture

(post #103269, reply #25 of 36)

Maybe you need to put more English on it or chalk it up.

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
Tony Z's picture

(post #103269, reply #9 of 36)

I fully agree with your post and am often humored by those who claim they get sub .001" shavings regularly and then pull out a $10.00 plastic caliper to prove it.


As I have already posted I even doubt the ordinary woodworker would have the experience to accurately use a micrometer without proper instruction and practice!  In my business we routinely measure to tenths of a thousand and are subject to the same calibration standards that you have referred to.  Point in fact, we only use calipers for quick, non-critical measurements and practically never on items requiring more than two decimal place accuracy. 

joinerswork's picture

(post #103269, reply #10 of 36)

All,


The real question is, How many angels can march in line on the edge of you-all's plane irons?  They keep falling off of mine, it's so sharp.


Cheers,


Ray Pine

highfigh's picture

(post #103269, reply #11 of 36)

Why are we discussing shaving thickness? I thought the reason a plane is used was for getting a good surface on the wood we're smoothing, not getting the best shavings.

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
lwj2's picture

(post #103269, reply #13 of 36)

Wait'll we get to the "my caliper is more finely calibrated than yours" contest.

Saw's good to maybe 1/64th (that's 0.015625). I got a dial caliper to see what I was measuring easier -- Mk. I Mod. 1a eyeballs needed a help. And [he said, wiggling his fingers in his ears] MY dial caliper won't ever run out of power, no batteries.

Leon

Leon Jester, Roanoke VA

lwj2's picture

(post #103269, reply #12 of 36)

Dangit, Ray!

Half a mouthful of really good coffee on the monitor again!

Leon

Leon Jester, Roanoke VA

QCInspector's picture

(post #103269, reply #15 of 36)

"The real question is, How many angels can march in line on the edge of you-all's plane irons? They keep falling off of mine, it's so sharp."

Who could be so cruel as to keep angels to test the sharpness of their tools?

Mine are so sharp, (How sharp are they?) that the soles of their combat boots cut through when they try to stand on the the blades.

Tony Z's picture

(post #103269, reply #8 of 36)

Be very mindful of measurements taken with calipers!  Unless the person taking the measurement knows the tool it is very easy to get false results.  This also stands true for micrometers, as they can be overtighened to give results less than actual.


Taking micromeasurements takes some practice and figuring out how to hold your tongue!


In a practical sense, wouldn't it be more useful to just learn to use your tool and gain a subjective feel for shavings thickness? 


 


 

QCInspector's picture

(post #103269, reply #16 of 36)

I didn't mean to send your thread off in another direction. I only wanted to point out that there are different levels of accuracy with measuring tools. It's along the lines of; Scale (ruler)= Scrub Plane. Caliper = Stanley plane. Micrometer = your LN 4 1/2. Micrometer in tenths = Norris smoother. Finer = Jar of angels.

Sharpdon's picture

(post #103269, reply #18 of 36)

Chris: One suggestion when sharpening is to use a loupe or pocket microscope to inspect the edge. It will tell you much about
your sharpening results including showing the scratch pattern. I use a 30x loupe or 30x microscope (Lumagny is about $12.00) to look at the edge of my tools when I think they are sharp. This is more informative than having a bald arm from hair shaving. The most frequent flaw I have seen in sharpened tools that do not perform well when cutting is rounded edges. Your approach should avoid that, but always be aware of the possibility. A black marker is certainly a useful tool to show where the abrading is occuring.
Don


Edited 2/7/2006 12:26 pm ET by Sharpdon

ChrisB's picture

(post #103269, reply #19 of 36)

Thanks for the tip, Don.


I have never heard of Lumagny, so I googled it but misspelled it as "Lumangy". The only hit I got was for a shop in the UK that sells stuff for growing hydroponic marajuana!! They misspelled it too.


After I corrected the spelling I regoogled it and went straight to Amazon. The 30X model is on order.


Chris

shopteacher's picture

(post #103269, reply #20 of 36)

The easiest way that I've found is to adjust the calipers to what ever measurement you want.  By adjusting the dial, I have made shavings that were negative 10/1000's.  Many of my shavings get lost because they are so thin, I can't find them!


There, the first liar don't stand a chance.

CajunDan's picture

(post #103269, reply #31 of 36)

Yeah, I keep a Shepard smoother set to the negative thicknesses on hand at all times.  I find it very useful for fine-tuning joints.


That way, if I take off too much with my power planer, I can take a few swipes and put it back.

DCarr10760's picture

(post #103269, reply #32 of 36)

That seems so complicated!


I just fill the escapement with shavings and run the plane backwards.


(If it's a Japanese plane you have to push it forward)


David C