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How to Use a Block Plane to Get Good Result

By: David S. Miles | Last Updated: January 11, 2024

Stanley 12-220 Block PlaneA block plane is small and compact. It is useful for smoothing end grain, chamfering, fairing convex curves, box joints, fitting doors, and all types of precision planning. One needs to follow some guidelines to set up and use a quality block plane. The following instruction will help a DIY enthusiast or even a woodworker on how to use a block plane and get the most out of that.

How do you set up a block plane?

How to Use a Block Plane

To use a block plane, the first and foremost job is to set it up. Experienced people might find it easy, but it could be tough for a newbie. Let’s get to know all the parts and how to set them up.

Parts of a Block Plane

  • Blade: it does the shaving job on a wooden surface.
  • Cap: It stays over the blade to hold it in place securely.
  • Blade adjustment knob: It determines the thickness of shaving through advances and retracts the blade.
  • Mouth adjustment knob: It helps to open and close the mouth according to the needs.
  • Mouth: Underneath the block plane, you can see the mouth, which is adjustable through the mouth adjustment knob on top of the plane.

Set up a block plane

Before setting it up, you will need some necessary items such as,

  • A Sandpaper sheet
  • A flat surface (a plate glass or even a piece of granite would be great)
  • A file

After you gather all the necessary items, let’s jump in the setting part.

  • Flattening the sole: To flatten the sole, lay the sandpaper on a flat surface, and use adhesive to keep it in place. Now, rub the plane on the sandpaper and check the plane frequently, whether the sole becomes smooth. Repeat the rub until the sole becomes completely flat.
  • Sharpen the blade: You have to sharpen the blade through sharpening media available to buy from a store.
  • Assemble the plane: To assemble, the blade is placed first, so the slope is faced up firmly held by the cap. The screw on the cap can be adjusted to tighten the cap. When the adjustment knob is turned, the blade should be able to move.
  • Adjusting the blade and mouth: To stick out the blade from the mouth, you have to use the adjustment knob. Tighten the knob when you find the required thickness by using it on a wooden surface. After that, it’s all set to use.

How to Use a Block Plane?

How to Use a Block Plane

As the setup is done correctly, you will need to follow the steps provided below to use a block plane.

Step 1- Mark the surface

First of all, mark the wooden surface you want to work on. Marking will provide you the actual measurement so that you don’t plane more than you needed.

Step 2- Place the wooden piece in a vise

Next, place the workpiece in the workbench vise and make sure the end grain up the mark at the top.

Step 3- Clamp the scrap wood to the workpiece

In this step, you have to fix the piece of spare wood to the end of the wooden piece with a bar clamp. This will help to tear-out of the edge.

Step 4- Place the plane

Now, place the plane on the workpiece and put it on the end part to push the stroke to start planning. Additionally, make sure the cutting edge of the iron is placed before the starting edge of the wooden piece you are working on.

Step 5- Start the stroke

The forward stroke will only do the job. You can use the plane with one hand, but using both hands also makes the job done. Place the palm of one of your hands on the rounded area and place your forefinger of the other hand on the front knob. After that, make the first forward stroke toward the other part of the workpiece.

Harder wood will need more pressure, and using two hands will make the job comfortable.

Step 6- Readjust and continue planing

You have to check the surface from time to time to see if the shaving is consistent. If it is not, you will need to readjust the depth of the blade and adjust it until you get the most of the block plane.

Continue stroking and check regularly. Sometimes pressure doesn’t remain the same while stroking. As a result, the workpiece may become uneven in some places. So, frequent checking will let you adjust the pressure where needed.

Step 7- Finish the planing

When the edge of the wooden workpiece is square with adjoining sides as well as smooth, your planing job is done.

What is a block plane best for?

How to Use a Block Plane

A Block plane is used for different woodworking purposes. However, the following are the best uses of a block plane.

  • It is best for planing throughout the grain, especially at the end of the boards.
  • It is also used to remove the mill marks from lumber.
  • Small wooden parts can be trimmed easily with a small block plane.
  • Rounding the edges task can be done comfortably.
  • Woodworkers need to sharpen their pencils while working. Here, the block plane comes as a savior of they don’t have any sharpener.

Block plane maintenance

A well-maintained block plane can work smoothly for years. Storing the plane in a dry place can prevent rust and corrosion. However, it would help if you cleaned every time after you use it. Experts don’t suggest using the block plane on freshly glued parts. Last but not least, keep the blade always sharp and retract the blade when you are not using it.

Final words

By now you already got your answer to the question, how to use a block plane? Additionally, it would be best if you also got to know block plane parts and the different purposes of a block plane. It was initially made to plane across the grain. However, it is suitable for finishing the end grain.

Using a block plane is easy, and carpenters can do the jobs as mentioned above without any hassle after following some simple steps. This versatile small tool makes it handy to carry anywhere in pockets and does countless little tasks.

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