The carpenter of today is generally supplied with all manner of planes; rabbeting-planes, beading-planes, circular-planes, plows, etc., besides the more commonly used jack-plane, fore-plane, and smoothing-plane. Each of these planes has a special form of work to do, but ordinarily one will have occasion to use but the last three named, and many get along with but a jack- and a smoothing-plane.
The Jack Plane
The Jack-plane is the plane you will first need to remove the rough surface of undressed lumber, and also to reduce quickly the thickness of wood. The cutting edge of the blade is ground so as to gouge the wood, removing thick shavings, but leaving ridges and hollows which must afterwards be removed by a fore-plane or smoothing-plane.
There is one trouble in using the smoothing-plane for this operation, however, and that lies in the danger of it following the hollows formed by the jack-plane, making a smooth but uneven surface.
The Fore-plane, on the other hand, has a long enough stock to prevent the blade from cutting the lower portions until the high portions have been removed. Although a fore-plane can be used alone for smoothing large work, it is more convenient to finish up with
The Smoothing Plane
The Stanley iron plane is a great improvement over the old-style wooden ones, and is the, most popular plane used to-day. It is more easily handled, as its iron is quickly put in place and adjusted.
The cap is screwed to the plane-iron and both are held in the stock by means of the clamp on the end of the wedge. The thumb-screw regulates the degrees of fineness of the plane-iron, while the lever, which moves from side to side, straightens the position of the iron. The base of the stock is known as the sole, or face.
The Bailey Plane
The Bailey plane is somewhat similar to the Stanley, the upper portion being of iron with screw adjustment, but the base being of wood. Its cost is much less than that of the entire iron plane, and you will probably find it as satisfactory if you do not care to spend the additional amount for the Stanley plane.
For Planing, take the position with the left foot a little in advance of the right, the right hand grasping the handle of the plane and the left holding the knob on the fore part of the stock. Use a long, steady sweep, and bear with equal pressure from the beginning of a stroke to the end, to avoid the hollows that are so easily made by taking shavings of different thickesses. Do not drag the plane-iron over the work in returning it for another stroke, as it will dull its edge.
You will often come across wood with a crooked grain, which runs diagonally through the piece, terminating at the surface. There is a right way and a wrong way in planning this, just as there are two ways of stroking a cat's back, one smoothing the surface, while the other roughens it. When you find a piece of wood with this kind of uncertain grain, you will probably have to change the direction of your planning a number of times before finishing the surface, in order to plane with the grain.
In planning end-wood, you will have trouble in preventing the corners of the piece from splitting off without it is placed in the vise in front of another block of wood, the planning being done towards the block. Or one corner may be chamfered with the chisel.
It is necessary to test work frequently while planning, in order to locate the high places and avoid taking off too much on the low places. This may be done by squinting one eye and holding the board on a level with the other eye, so that you can look down the length of it as in sighting a gun. The uneven places show up very plainly in this way.
Work is also tested by means of the try-square. Place the handle of the square against the edge of the work with the blade of the square extending across the plan surface, and move it the length of the board. Any irregularities in the surface will show themselves as the blade passes over them. In planning up a block of wood, plane up one side and, after providing it to be true, use it for the "tried edge," testing the other sides with the handle of the square pressed against its surface.
Source by James W. Vincent