Tuning the Bed of a Wooden Hand Plane
In my last post I talked about a way to address sharpening a badly warped blade in an old wooden hand plane. Sometimes sharpening the blade is all the work required to put these old planes back into useful service. This is usually the case with a wooden jack or fore plane. Fore planes are intended for doing the initial planing of rough sawn wood, and therefore they are usually set up to take relatively thick shavings. So, for the most part, sharpening the iron is all that’s required to make these planes work.
Try and jointer planes may require a bit more work. These planes are usually set up to take thinner shavings than the jack plane and also straighten and flatten the wood. For this reason, a try or jointer plane needs to have a nice flat sole. So when tuning up old wooden try and jointer planes, in addition to sharpening the iron, flattening the sole is usually required as well.
Sometimes, tuning up a wooden hand plane requires a little more. While most of the time I prefer the thickest cut that gets the desired results, I don’t always want that. For specialty smoothing planes, a fine, wispy cut is desirable. Flattening the sole can often help achieve this, but sometimes, flattening the sole isn’t enough. In these cases, the next thing that I suspect that needs attention is the bed of the plane. An iron that isn’t solidly bedded will chatter a little and still only cut a relatively thick shaving, even after sharpening the iron and flattening the sole. So if you have an old wooden smoother that you just can’t get to take a really fine cut, even after sharpening the iron and flattening the sole, here’s one more thing you can check that just might be the ticket.