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During the trip to the folk's house this last weekend, I came in to a #4 bench plane (or believe its a #4). What angle should I sharpen the blade to? Also where can I find other information about the plane?  (Brad Love)

    I just got a Stanley UK #3. The instructions suggest a 25° primary bevel, and a 30° secondary bevel. It seems to work fine on cane, at least what little I have done so far.  I was pleasantly surprised by the quality, the sole being very flat, and everything lining up well. The only tune up I did was hone the chip breaker to a tighter fit, and adjust the frog to a smaller mouth opening. I may replace the plastic hand grip, though, which might be hard on the hands compared to wood.   My hands are not especially big, but are a tight fit on the grip. If the #2's are smaller, I could have a problem.  Using two handed tools also opens up some options on scrapers. I have a German made Kunz 112, which appears to be an exact duplicate of the old Stanley 112. I paid  $50 for it some years ago, and it appears to be well made. (the price tag was still stuck to it). I don't know if the unit is still sold in the US, but it seems a useful option if it is.  (Tom Smithwick)

    The "usual" angle for conventional bench plane blades is 25 degrees.  (Larry Blan)


I need some help. I ordered a Lie-Nielsen #2 plane and it arrived last night. How in the devil do you hold it? Wrapped my hand every which way around it and still I either strike my fingers on the blade adjustment, the butt of my hand hangs over the end or my fingers are laying along the blade.

Is this a toy or a serious plane? Would expect that it should cut wood if I can just figure it out.  (Don Schneider)

    I grip it with my index and middle  fingers and push with my palm. I had indicated in my previous post on the subject that I have pretty tiny hands. I think that it is just about right for me. I hold the strip with the left hand and plane with the right, no clamps. It cuts smoothly enough that I can hold the strip with little pressure.  If you have stubby fingers it may be a tight fit. I wonder if you could adjust the blade so that the knob is farther in and away from the handle.

    It is definitely a serious plane. I love mine, although I had it initialized when I ordered it from Woodcraft. That is some ugly engraving for sure. Wish I had not done it, worst $3 I have ever spent.  (Bob Maulucci)


A recent thread on the virtues of small bench planes for bamboo work got me thinking about trying it.  I've arranged my planing form base to allow the use of a spring clamp so I can plane two handed.  Now I have a question about planes.  The best web resource I know of for Stanley planes lists the Stanley #3 as being 8" long, with a 1 3/4" cutter, and weighing in at 3 1/8 pounds  The Lie-Nielsen #2, a bedrock pattern plane, is listed as being 7 1/2", with a 1 5/8" cutter, and weighing in at 3 or 3 1/4 pounds depending on the casting material (iron or bronze).  It strikes me that there's not much difference between these two.  Now, I know L-N makes a hell of a nice plane.  I've got several L-N block planes and had a #1 bench plane years ago (I got rid of it.  Too small to be practical.)  Is there a really good reason why I should spend the extra cash for the L-N #2?  I've got a line on a cherry Stanley #3 from the late 30's.  The iron's never even been sharpened.  The price is significantly less than the LN.

A related question.  I understand that the old Stanley irons are of a fairly high quality.  You folks who use the old Stanleys, did you have to replace the iron with a Hock?  (Bill Benham)

    I have the L-N #2 and a Sargent that is the #3 equivalent. I like using both to do the work before finishing the last few strokes with a block plane or 212. The old blades seem very good to me, and I have been using the Sargent blade and those in my old Millers Falls and Stanleys as well. Now, a bench plane with a groove would be the cat's behind.  HOWEVER, you may want to check with Tom Smithwick. At Roscoe, I saw him with a #1 L-N, and it looked very nice. It was a good size in that a #3 and that might be even better. I have found that a lot of it depends on how big or small your hands are.  (Bob Maulucci)

    I think a Stanley that old is going to be a fine tool. I have 5 or 6 various Stanley bench planes of that age or better and for the price they're excellent. Hard to justify the expense of L-N if you can find a good old Stanley that doesn't need a lot of work to true up. And just make sure it doesn't have the corrugated sole! That's fine for boards but not for skinny strips.

    As far as the irons, I find them quite variable; Some pretty good and some don't hold an edge worth a darn. I'd assume I'd have to replace with a Hock. Hock's are always thicker too, which makes for a more stable cut.  (Rick Funcik)

      I met a person  at an tool auction last summer who seemed to know a bit about hand planes. It turns out that he is a member of the Midwest Tool Collector's Association and has about 500 plus hand planes plus many other old hand tools.  A few a true collectibles.  I had kept in touch with him and told him that I was learning to build split bamboo fly rods. Last Monday, I stopped at his home in Stacy, Minnesota where he helped me identify the different models of hand planes that I had and sold me some really good old blades for my Stanley 9 1/2 and model 18. These were the old blades marked Stanley Rule & Level Co. that have a over 1 inch long tempering. He also suggested I  use Iron Out as a soaking medium to remove rust & dirt from old tools. Soak for 4 days then use 0000 steel wool.  He has many other plane parts available. This was prompted by the Bench Plane thread and I hope it is of use to some of you.

      His name and contact info are as follows:

      Eric J. Mattson
      23501 Beta Street NE
      Stacy, Minnesota 55079

      No financial interest, etc.  (Randy Tuttle)

    One thing to watch for - the Bedrock style of bench plane has a way to adjust the frog forwards or backwards, essentially a throat adjustment, without having to take the plane apart. A regular Stanley bench plane may or may not have the adjustment screw on the back of the frog depending on the style and year of manufacture. I would try and get the adjustable frog type of bench plane. Since we are talking about using these planes, not collecting them, I would get the Lie-Nielsen unless the old Stanley was considerably less than the L-N. By that I mean if an old Stanley Bedrock #2 in really good condition costs anywhere from $175 up I would pass on it and get the L-N.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      Very good condition used Stanley Bedrock #2 will set you back $600 or better.  The LN would be much more practical.

      According to my friend Eric ( the 2 way throat adjustment on the Bedrock #2 was made after 1906 but was not made during WWII.  (Randy Tuttle)

      I have a Stanley Bailey #3 it has an adjustable frog. I works just fine for me. The Bailey's are a lot cheaper than the Bedrocks.  (Dave Norling)


I've been having fun using my L-N No. 2 Bench Plane but I'm not sure if I have it adjusted correctly. 

It stared out being very easy and comfortable to use.  I was just moving along removing bamboo and leaving a nice planed surface.  The plane started to drag so I thought it was time for sharpening. 

When I examined the blade, it looked like it had serrations or teeth, and I thought it could be from the original grinding.  I pulled it out and gave it the waterstone treatment to a nice mirror like shine (25 degrees same as original angle). I planed a bit and it started dragging again and when I looked at the edge the "teeth" were back. 

Normally I don't have to sharpen my L-N block planes this soon, the A-2 Cryo blades seem to  hold an edge for a good bit of planing.  Am I doing something wrong?

Should the chip breaker be even with the edge or back a bit?

Maybe I got a soft blade?  (David Van Burgel)

    The chip breaker should be back just a bit from the edge of the blade.  However, the 25 degree bevel is not steep enough for bamboo.  L-N block planes come with the same 25 degree angle on the blade, and I encountered exactly the same problem with my L-N 9 1/2 block plane.  My take on it was that the edge was being rolled and chipped.

    On bench planes, the standard angle of the bed is 45 degrees and the blade is sharpened on the back side.  You could sharpen the blade to a steeper angle up to the 45 degrees that the blade is at.  I personally wouldn't go that steep on a bench plane, but an angle up to 40 degrees would substantially increase the amount of steel supporting the edge without affecting the cutting characteristics of the plane.  (Robert Kope)

    Just a thought on bench planes. I've found that I get better control by taking the knob off and grasping the plane over the throat/blade/side curved area with my whole hand. Helps keep plane parallel to the form top better, and I can see better without the knob.  (Chad Wigham)

    I called L-N this morning and about a year ago they switched all blades to A-2 Cryo treated.  If the blade doesn't have their logo, it is the old one.  Mine is the old one and they are trading me for the A-2 Cryo blade.  In fact they are sending it to me before they get my old one -- I love dealing with them.  A wonderful Maine business.  (David Van Burgel)

      I had the same problem with the 4 new L-N Blades (w/logo) I ordered a few months ago...

      The factory 25 degree angle is to flat and I experienced "tearout" at the nodes and "chipping" on the edge of the blade...

      I reground the angle to 35 degrees, then put a 2 degree micro-bevel and solved the problem...

      They are a fine company to work with.  (Dave Collyer)


Retire your 9 1/2 block planes.

Go and get a good quality No. 2 or 3 Bench Plane. Your wrist, elbow and shoulders will thank you. You might even extend your rodmaking years.

Block planes were made to plane end grain. Bench planes were made to plane with the grain. Bamboo is not wood, but I think everyone will agree there is a grain to bamboo.

Seriously, it is so much easier to plane with a bench plane, once you get used to using one you will wonder why you ever used a block plane.

No. 2 sized bench planes are rare only being made by a few people.  Lie-Nielsen is one of them, but no. 3 sized bench planes are being made by a lot of tool companies Stanley still makes no. 3 bench planes for fairly cheap, approximately $35.00 US.

One more thing if you use a bench plane - you will have to get a spring clamp or other such arrangement to hold strips in the form because a bench plane takes two hands.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    Do you go down to final dimensions with the bench plane or use something else to finish?  (Callum Ross)

      I usually go down to final dimensions with the No. 2 bench plane. I have done the same with a No. 3 size plane just to see if I could do it. The No. 2 is lighter and feels like there is more control.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    Last time I suggested this I was chased with flaming torches for being so stupid as to suggest it but if you want to get into another absorbing hobby try making the plane and iron yourself.

    You can make the body from wood as per Krenov with a brass sole or make it from dovetailed steel with a wood filler or make it like a bedrock pattern as we all think of when we think plane. It can be done without a mill and lathe but it's involved. Absorbing though. Then while this is happening find your local blacksmith association and learn how to make cutting edge tools and make the irons for your planes. Again absorbing and a lot of fun.

    Of course if you're not inclined to do that buy it all but it's not as much fun, faster though.

    If you think that's stupid OK but you never have too many skills IMHO.  (Tony Young)

      Everyone is waiting for their evaluation models.  (Callum Ross)

        I will post a pic, postage is too expensive you know  [:-)]

        Actually I made a high angle block plane. It works but you need fingers of steel to hold the strips and the arms of Popeye to push the plane.  I used a 55 degree slope on the iron. Possibly it would be better with a lower slope but I can see it happening that I make the slop lower and lower until it gets somewhere near 15-20 degrees before you can use it single handed without undue fear of sliced fingers so it's pointless to continue as we're all who plane already using what is available and just require altering the angle of the bevel to achieve the same result.  The higher angle does mean less sharpening but no other real benefit since the resistance of pushing increases.  If you need to use both hands to push the plane a block plane does not seem the answer, a bench plane is. (Tony Young)

      I am interested in making my own plane irons, because I have a few blades that are from around the 1900 era and they are so much better than the irons made today. It would be great if I could reproduce the old blades. At this point my opinion is that the old blades were hardened more - they seem to chip easier. The way we as rodmakers use them I don't think that would be a problem. We don't run into nails or big knots when we plane.

      If you want an interesting hobby that has no practical application in today’s world, I've always been interested in making a katana.  (Darryl Hayashida)

        If you're interested you should do it. I find blacksmithing, especially making cutting edges very interesting because there is on the one hand so much in it technically yet not overly difficult to do in a suck it and see way which unless you use new steel of a known type is what you have to do anyhow.  I use Toyota Land Cruiser front coil springs for chisels and a great bench hook that I use to hold the strips in the form when I attack them with a bench plane. The hook is much better than a clamp because the spring never lets up and as it goes through a hole in the bench top doesn't get in the way.

        I use truck axles for the plane irons not that I've made that many of them, I've made a lot of chisels though. Much easier to flatten over sized steel than upset it from thinner stock as you'd need to using coil springs. 

        I'm heavily built which is a polite way of saying I'm fat but that's handy with blacksmithing where you use a bit of force so if you're not try to get to a drop hammer, keep the steel hot and you'll save a lot of sweat but then you'll need to find another way of getting your frustrations out.

        The edge I get from my tools is far and away superior to what you can buy with the exception of Japanese chisels which are the apogee of the art.

        My chisels hold an edge all day when used with hardwoods though I do break them occasionally at the hardened edge when I'm deep mortising but I accept that as the trade off for the edge. I treat these extremely hard, harder than I should in fact and I could make them a little softer but I like them this way. I can just make the edge again so it's not problem. Tool makers selling you chisels can't take that attitude so they just aren't as good in use. Same with plane irons. I was using a Hock today and much as I like them I prefer my irons. Why aren't I using one of my irons? I've sharpened them below the hardened edge so I need to re treat them, again, no big deal.

        The other thing about making tools is you have to understand them and that makes you use them better too.

        Strongly suggest you find a copy of The Complete Bladesmith by Jim Hrisoulas. He shows how to make a Katana amongst more useful but less interesting things.

        I had a Katana once. It was a 750 cc and I hit a wombat which is a 2 foot high immovable object that should have been deep in it's burrow not on the highway at 2 am doing about 160 mph (me on the bike, not the wombat).  Did a flip over the handlebars and slid under a barbed wire fence on my back and mowed down about 100 yards of wheat with the bike hot on my trail for half of that. Lay there a while thinking death wasn't as bad as all that so far then I  realized I'd survived because I felt pain and I didn't think you feel pain when dead. I was damned lucky it was raining, I had my Goretex jacket which was a cordura outer over leathers and the road was slippery. The cordura didn't ever tear though it got pretty skid marked. The wombat and bike were a write off though.  (Tony Young)

    Tony Young has been a big proponent of bench planes for a long time.   I'm thinking of making the switch too.  Only problem so far, is the amount of equity I've got built up in my block plane paraphernalia.  (Mark Wendt)

    Hmmm... a grain to bamboo?. That in itself is a sacred cow in rodmaking. Being that bamboo is a grass and is composed of very short fibers and inch to 2 inches in length, I do not think everyone will agree on bamboo having a grain. If bamboo really did have a grain that extended from top to bottom you really could not control the split and make it go one way or another.

    I know many makers careful try to follow the grain while planing. Well unless the "grain" is tapered it is being cut across on every pass on both sides. Nodeless guys cut it across it all the way and suffer no weakness in power. This whole grain following thing is lemming technology.

    "follow the grain, cut equally on both sides, only use spar, don’t saw strips, ....jump off this cliff because everyone else is."  (Adam Vigil)

      I think the continuity of the fibers could be considered a grain for the sake of the discussion though it's not correct.  The whole thing of not wanting to cut across "grain"  does hark back to wood working though, it sounds like that anyhow. If it does hark back to wood working the spilt Vs saw debate makes sense because sawn timber is not as strong as riven timber. Riven timber will always follow the grain as anybody who has split firewood knows and that is about as strong as the wood can be as there is no grain run out. It's not applicable in the case of bamboo though, sawn, split it's all the same except IMHO the Nunley method of splitting is so fast and accurate sawing is a slow & complicated waste of time by comparison.  (Tony Young)


I have just returned from a couple of weeks holiday on the "mainland", which is what we Tasmanians call the big bit of Australia up north of us, and found on return that my Lie Nielsen #2 bench plane had arrived; so yesterday I sharpened the blade and today planed my first set of 6 tip strips with it.

Now I have always used a bench plane for some of my planing work, one of a couple of Bailey's, and have always agreed with people like Carsten Jorgensen that they have a place in the process.

But until I used this Lie-Nielsen I don't believe that I really had any idea of how well a  bench plane could work!  I have used one of their 212 scrapers for years, and find it very useful, but the #2 seems to me to be in a class of its own.

I am a pretty much fanatical sharpener of blades, so have never labored against the handicap of blunt, but nonetheless, I reckon that this delightful little benchie reduced my planing time by about 30%, and cut to practically zero the fine point finishing required.

My compliments, as it were, to the chef!  (Peter McKean)


I found a Stanley/Bailey #4 bench plane that my father-in-law gave me 30 years ago and was wondering if it's worth cleaning up and sharpening for use maybe as a roughing plane. Doesn't look like I've used it in 20 years. (Larry Puckett)

    Heck Yeah!!!  Upon the advice of many on this list, I've used mine for roughing every single strip I've planes.  MUST get a Hock blade, though.  Definitely tune the plane as you would a block plane, though.  (Joe West)

    You bet it is. Got mine after my Dad died. Great for rough planing and easy to handle. He also left me a #3 Parplus  by Metal Products Corp of West haven, Conn. It's lighter than old Stanley's but works fine. I use the original blades. They're OK for roughing and can hold an edge quite well.  (Lee Koeser)


I've acquired a few bench planes from eBay, and as I take a break from sanding in a groove on the sole of one of them, it occurs to me that I've never seen any advice on how wide and how deep a groove should be. So I'll put forth my opinion.

I like my grooves to be 5/8 of an inch wide. I've tried 1/2 inch and 3/4 of an inch wide. At 1/2 inch wide I can't keep the bamboo strip in the groove all the time when I start getting a little tired and a little sloppy. 3/4 of an inch wide, I slip off the shoulder and nick my forms sometimes when I get tired. 5/8ths seems to be just right.

On a roughing plane I sandpaper in a groove .005 to .006 deep. I measure it with a depth gauge - the same one you measure the depth on your forms. On a finishing plane I like the groove to be .002 to .003 deep. I use the two pieces of wood and a strip of sandpaper method to sand in the grooves on my planes. 

I use 220 wet/dry sandpaper.  I sand dry and use one of those handheld vacuum cleaners with a rotating brush in the head.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    As much as we all hate doing it. Nicking your planing form in no way decreases it's effectiveness. You could in fact take a hacksaw and cut perpendicular slices every 1/4" all the way up the form and still have a very accurate form.   I wouldn't suggest doing it though.  (Marty DeSapio)

    I mentioned this on the list years ago...

    After putting a shallow groove (.003) groove in my finish plane with sandpaper, I was looking for an easier way to do a deep groove in my roughing plane.  So I scribed the bottom of the plane, marking out the strip to be removed, but leaving 1/2 inch at the toe, heel, and on each side of the mouth.  The material in between I removed with a machinist's scraper.  Then with the sandpaper strips I cut down the remaining 4 spots to the desired depth.  Later I added the John Bokstrom training wheels and it really works well.

    This idea is not original with me; I got it from the Fine Woodworking book on "Planes and Chisels".  As I recall, "relieved" plane soles are common in Japan.

    I also "relieved" my plane blade on the grinder, so I am just sharpening the middle that does the cutting.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

    I think there should be a consideration for how wide a plane groove can or should be compared to the width of the forms you are using. Most forms out there are made from 3/4 bar stock, so if that is what you are using, your preference of a 5/8 groove gives you a little extra surface before you fall off the forms compared to a 3/4 groove and a 1/2 groove doesn't give you much leeway to skew the plane at times from a parallel to length pass.

    I may catch some flak for this but I personally like to use wooden forms made from 1 ¼ stock. This gives me a much wider and more stable platform to work from and I find nothing is lost in accuracy over ¾ bar stock metal forms. My planes have ¾ grooves, which gives me more leeway when I skew the cut and if I fall off the form, it is defiantly time for a break.

    I like your idea of having your finish plane groove depth at .002 - .003, mine are .005. The smaller depth shouldn't allow the strip to be lifted out of the form as much.

    I started using wider forms for all of the reasons Darryl said. I started using grooved planes by putting a strip of  masking tape on each outside edge of a plane, surprising how long the tape last when using wider forms, not so with 3/4 CRS.

    I think everyone got into using 3/4 bar stock because that was the norm way back when, so everyone got the idea metal is better. Consequently in most cases the planes being used are wider than the 3/4 bar stock form which doesn't give you much margin for tracking before you start planing forms.

    Wider forms also keep your finger tips away from the adjusting bolts, they could be countersunk, and gives you a more stable platform to work.

    Why do I like wider wooden forms over metal?

  • I live in Seattle and metal and rain don't mix well.
  • There is something about the metal sole of a $150 plane and a metal form rubbing together that doesn't enhance the longevity of either.
  • They are easier to make and maintain.
  • I have more room to skew the plane if needed.
  • I can't remember the last time I planed the form. The only thing the blade touches is bamboo.  (Don Schneider)


I find I have started to use the bench plane for just about everything except a final few  passes with the Record block plane. I have gotten so used to the way the bench plane cuts,  and can get so precise with it, I can get the strips down to very close to the final size using the bench plane only. So far I have had no lifts or chips with the bench plane - I don't  know if it's a function of the plane, or I have just been lucky. I tend to lean towards it's the  plane, because my Record plane has chipped a node where the bench plane hadn't.

I visited an upscale woodworking store last weekend looking for what was available in  bench planes. The No. 4 size is quite common, and will do for bamboo work, but is just a little bit long and heavy at 10 inches long and 2 1/4 inches wide, and weighs around 4 to 5 pounds. The next size down, a No. 3 is still being made by Stanley, but stores don't commonly carry them. The next size down, No.2, isn't being made any more except by one place I saw on the web - Lie-Nielsen, but it's a whopping $235. I think a 2 would be ideal for guys with smaller hands and a 3 would be better for guys with bigger hands. A 4  would do the job, but would give you a workout in the process.

I have a 4 and a 3. I find the 4 is great for whacking off great gobs of bamboo when I first start roughing the strip, and the 3 is good for getting close to final size. Knowing what I know now, and if I needed to conserve money buying planes, I would get a 3 bench plane, a Record 9 1/2 and a Lie-Nielsen 212 scraper. That's all I commonly use to plane strips  now.  (Darryl Hayashida)


I got a size 2 bench plane. Appearance wise there is a few problems, but mechanically it is  perfect. After sanding in a .002 groove, sharpening the blade, and moving the frog up to narrow the throat, I tested it for final planing. It works great!

The smaller size 2 bench plane is just as controllable as a Stanley 9 1/2, the weight being just a  bit more, but the rear handle (called a tote) allows a lot of control in being able to judge if the plane is level or not. I really believe the angle of the blade in bench planes (45 degree.) is a lot better for planing with the grain than the block planes, and the chip breaker moved close to the edge helps a lot with preventing lifts.

After all my adventures in bench planes and in buying them on eBay, this is what I recommend. A size 3 or 4 for roughing (I'd give the nod to the 3), a size 2 for final planing, a scraper for fixing lifts (you get less of them with a bench plane). A 9 1/2 block plane is useful, but not necessary. How's that for busting a Garrisonism?  (Darryl Hayashida)

    I agree with this. The bench plane angle of attack and chip breaker setup is a lot better for planing bamboo. I do think you could do the whole job with one provided you have a means of holding the strip in place that wasn't too much hassle when it came to flipping one side to the other AND the plane is tuned for the job as Darryl wrote ie. the frog needs to be set so the mouth has a very fine opening just as you need on a block plane and is achieved with the adjustable throat.

    The iron also keeps it's edge a lot longer when used at a higher angle as well.  (Tony Young)

    I was just telling Jim Bureau the other day that a block plane with a bench plane blade setup is what we need for the job.  Maybe someone could promote a Lie-Nielsen exec to building bamboo rods.   (Timothy Troester)

    After years of trying different planes I finally found the set up I like. I use a Lie-Nielsen 9 1/2 (LN 9 1/2) with a .002" grooved sole for getting the strips within .002" off  the form.  I finish with a Lie-Nielsen 103 Special (LN103SP). This is a very small plane with a fixed throat setting with interchangeable throat plates to change the setting (so I guess it's not really fixed). I use it to make the last few swipes on each strip. This set up save the form and blades from nicks. This plane is uncataloged and has to be asked for. George Maurer told me about it. Now what do I do with the Stanley 9 1/2 and half dozen Hock blades?  (Marty DeSapio)

    For years I have preached the gospel about using the bench plane for the finish planing and the block plane for the rough stuff. Will I, eventually, save a few forlorn souls?

    Well, it doesn’t matter, BUT: for Your info as how to have a secure grip of the strip when planing, have a look at it here. 

    All of you rodmakers that hold the plane with one hand and hold the strip with the other, do have a look and behold, a new and easier way of planing will be revealed to your doubting eyes. There is even a pic of my bench plane (here) - used for finish planing.  (Carsten Jorgensen)

      I too thought of using a toggle clamp, but I find that a 1" spring clamp is just as good.  Different strokes for different folks.  (Ralph Moon)

        I do still have forms, by the way, which are elevated 1" above the work bench. A spring clamp would do as well on them, with less fuss. Carsten and Ralph, how much extra length do you guys leave on your strips to account for the clamping, and for the plane length. Are you holding the strip by hand, starting to plane, getting past the clamping point, then clamping, or . . . ?  (Martin-Darrell)

          I don't leave much excess.  Usually 2" at the top and 2" at the other end.  I do position the clamp so that I can plane the butt end That is, you don't leave the clamp at the butt all of the time.  Move it around.  (Ralph Moon)

            That's what I do - raised a couple of inches. Use spring clamps.  Leave NO extra, just move the spring clamp once each pass. No trouble once you get used to it, and the old right hand develops a killer handshake grip!  (Peter McKean)

    I have to admit I got interested  in this after Darryl's original post. The only thing I had around to try was a 15" Stanley #5 jack plane. I was thinking this would mean I could not start planing closer than about 10" from the clamp. As soon as I got set up and picked up the tool, however, I realized that all you have to do is turn the plane at an angle to the cutting direction, and you can get very close to the clamp. This is a good practice anyway, as it results in a cleaner cut. Most craftsmen who use planes, other than us, push them at an angle. Of course, it is a problem if you groove the sole.

    Anyway, It seemed to me the idea of using these planes has merit. Even the old jack plane, which has an uneven sole, and was not nearly sharpened to our standards, cut untreated nodes very nicely. It's too heavy for this work, IMHO but far from useless. I guess I need to start looking around for a #2 or 3.  (Tom Smithwick)

      I've been using an old #4 1/2 Bailey plane for several years now.  Last year I got an A2 blade from Lee Valley and the combination really hogs off shavings and does it cleanly.  It would be nice to see a shorter/smaller version of this for rodmakers.  (Ted Knott)

    There have been a few of us using a bench plane for a while now. I was using a wooden one with a high angle of attack I made a while back and the sole lasts only a short time which I'd have expected but it worked very well.

    There are other reasons to use one also.  A bench plane wont follow the ups and downs of a spline so you get a straight spline much faster than you do using a block plane which will follow the ups and downs of the spline in the initial form because it's so short.

    I don't actually use an initial or intermediate form any longer for this reason but just put the strip in the final form and plane it. You get to the stage of having to think seriously about accurate work pretty fast if you use one. There are a couple of reasons for this.

    First is what I wrote above, the reason planes are made in varying lengths is the longer the plane the more humps it'll take off without going up and down the valleys if that makes sense. Imagine a snow sledge that's 5 feet long going up and down moguls, now imagine one 30 feet long that only travels along the tops. That means you get a very even strip fast.  The other obvious reason is you have some serious pressure behind the plane because you have all your weight behind it and you are using two hands.  A block plane is at this stage still the best plane to use IMHO for the final passes.  (Tony Young)


I just wanted to publicly thank Carsten (I did not forget you telling me about this long ago), Darryl H., and Tom S. for their discussion on bench planes for cane. I received my Lie-Nielsen #2 today, and I have been in Nirvana planing out a quad tonight. It is the nicest little plane. My small hands fit around the handle well, and just the weight alone allows you to get a beautiful curl of cane every time. I am very impressed by its  ability to take off a lot or a wisp of cane.  (Bob Maulucci)

    It is difficult to convey how much easier planing is with a bench plane. Let me put it this way - if you are using a block plane you are working too hard, no doubt about it. A #2 is a bit pricey, a Stanley #3 can be bought for $32.00 from Sears. A #3 can be used to plane to final dimensions almost as easily as with a #2. Get a bench plane. You won't regret it.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      This is absolutely correct. I'm not concerned with the mechanics of it all enough to look into it too deeply, well actually I am and I think the fact the bench plane iron is sharpened at a lesser pitch combined with the chip breaker that can be set to varying distances from the edge of the iron that creates the bump that breaks the chip as it passes through the mouth which is adjusted with the frog assuming it's correctly adjusted which they most often aren't incidentally that behaves exactly like the adjustable throat of a block plane combined with the angle of attack due to the angle of the frog all combine to allow much easier planing and a hell of a lot less sharpening even with the tin foil plane iron offerings Stanley sell with their planes which would make that guy from Canada very happy to read even though this is in a different context to his normal argument so if a decent iron was used the results would be even better from a time between sharpening point of view. Add to this you're pushing with both hands and you'll be using a lot less effort to achieve the same results as with a block plane at this stage.

      Another advantage of using a bench plane and not a mini one but a decent sized one used in carpentry like a #3-#4 is after the strips are straightened a few passes with a bench plane level the whole strip which makes it sit in the forms much easier sooner into the whole operation. If the strips are over sized it only takes a couple of passes and that little problem is solved right away.

      I'm only new to this noded rod stuff but I straighten the strips and press the nodes at the same time using an alcohol lamp then clamp the strip to my bench and make a couple of passes with my bench plane just to make one face level then plane the other face in the intermediate form. There is no need for the initial form when this is done.

      By clamping the strip in the inter form and planing with a bench plane you've finished in about 3 minutes then put the strip in the final form and do the same up to where you're confident of not over doing things before heat treating.

      I heat treat then finish with a 9-1/2. It's quite amazing just how much faster things go with a lot less effort.  I've made a plane in the same dimensions as the 9-1/2 but designed as a bench plane. It's likely to be similar in size to the smallest plane or smaller LN make but I'm not certain.  I wanted this for the final planing hence the small size. The angle of attack is higher than a bench plane, somewhere between a bench plane and the LN scraper, the iron is HSS.  It works very well, just as expected but due to the increased angle of attack the resistance even with a sharp edge is difficult to handle so unless I can come up with an easy means of holding the strip the advantages may not be more than the disadvantages of using a 9-1/2 with a very sharp edge for the final planing.

      There's no reason to be surprised by all this though. Block planes aren't designed to plane along grain. Bench planes are. Block planes are well designed so if used with enough care and a sharp iron they obviously do work but they aren't ideal for the task.

      The chip breaker must fit absolutely flush with the iron. There must be no gap or lip else the chips will foul in the gap and tear forward of the mouth rather than curl and shear.  The best way to do this is sharpen the chip breaker just as you would the iron except unless you drop it on a cement floor it really only needs doing once a decade or so.  When you do this be very careful and take just a few passes as you go and try it. If you are sharpening at the wrong angle or over do it you'll create a huge problem where you were originally just wanting to correct a minor one. 

      LN planes may come without the need to do this as his gear is so good but it's worth a look.  Also, while I'm at it the distance the chip breaker is set from the edge of the iron makes a difference too. It's a trial and error thing but basically there is a relationship between the depth of cut and the distance this is set just like the setting of the mouth in a block plane and lastly and no less importantly set the frog correctly.

      The frog setting adjusts the width of the mouth exactly the same way the adjustment of the mouth of a block plane works and is just as important except the iron is set forward or aft rather than a slot as per the block plane.

      If the frog isn't set right nothing else will work as well as it should.  The frog also adjusts the center of lateral iron adjustment and I like mine set slightly skewed of center.

      A block plane "looks" more high tech and adjustable and is neat to use because of the way it fits your hand but the bench plane really is high tech even though the design is quite old and is actually a fine instrument when properly tuned.  (Tony Young)

    A couple weeks ago I had some correspondence with Ted Knott on holding strips for two handed planing. Out of the conversation came the idea of using a bit of 2 sided carpet installers tape on the butt end of the strip  to hold it in place. It seems to work. Once you get the strip in shape and start seriously planing, put about two inches of the stuff on the strip end, and push it firmly into the groove. I think there is a high tack version of the tape, which would probably be best.  Obviously, don't plane down to the forms where the tape is, get the rest of the strip to dimension, remove the tape, and finish planing that area.  (Tom Smithwick)

      Further to Tom's idea of tape I am going to try a thin, 2" long, coat of Pliobond on the planing form at the point where the strip's end would sit. I think this will provide enough friction to prevent the strip from slipping and can easily be cleaned off with acetone.  Since this part of the strip is cut off after gluing I'm not going to worry about planing it a little undersize.  (Ted Knott)

        That's fine, and will probably work beautifully.

        But it is as positive and at least as simple just to use a spring clamp to hold  the strip; it makes for easy turning of  the strip, and has the advantage of being instantly relocatable on the strip. You can plane the whole strip in one sweep, just as you would if you were holding it with your fingers.

        All  you  have to do is elevate the planing  forms an inch or two, which has enough benefits that it is pretty well worth doing  even without the spring clamps.  (Peter McKean)

          I use a toggle clamp that is screwed to the 2x6 that my form nests in on top of my work bench. This setup gives me a good height to work from and I can clamp the strip at virtually any location. Flipping the strip is very easy also.

          With any kind of glue or tape I would be concerned about gumming up my plane.  (Steve Trauthwein)

        Someone mentioned using double sided tape. I planed on getting back to you off list but I guess I'd keyed the message.  Don't remember who it was.  I tried this sometime last year but found it was only good for about two strips before it started slipping.

        What I wanted to know what brand of tape you are using and how long does it last. I may give it another try. As for now the spring clamp is working pretty well.  (Tony Spezio)

          I was only using about 2" of tape. I don't have any problem with replacing it every couple strips. I don't know the brand I was using, it's just something I had around. I think I have seen versions of it that are "high tack strength". I'm going to try to find some next time around. I don't see this as the total answer, just a way to  avoid messing with clamps when final planing and speeding up the process a bit.  (Tom Smithwick)


I recently purchased the LN #1 bench plane, and thought I would pass along my impressions. As is expected from LN, the plane is a little jewel, you can open the box, adjust the depth of cut, and start planing cane. It is about the size of a block plane. No one over the age of 5 could wrap their hand around the grip, so you have to hold it a different way. What works for me is to put my thumb on one side of the body, and two fingers on the other side, contacting the handle with the notch between my thumb and forefinger. It takes a bit of getting used to, but you can plane one or two handed as you please. The blade sticks up too far to allow the over the top grip most of us use with block planes. I think Darryl suggested a while back that the rear grip might be better as a knob. I don't think that would help much because of the height of the blade and chip breaker. All in all, I'm pretty happy, and think I've got a good finish plane. If I remember right, I think Darryl recommended the #2 as being about ideal for all around work, and that may be my next act of folly.  (Tom Smithwick)

    I have a 75 year old Bailey #4 1/2 plane, tuned and refitted with a modern A2 blade.  I use it one-handed or with both hands and it does a super job of planing down to about .015" oversize prior to heat treating.  When planing two-handed the friction between strip and form is sufficient to keep the strip from moving, provided you don't try to take too thick a shaving. A shaving thickness of about .005" to .006" is about right.  I use a Stanley 9 1/2 with a high speed steel blade for finish planing to size.  (Ted Knott)

    I haven't been able to locate a reasonably priced #1 bench plane yet, I think I will end up with a Lie-Nielsen some day. I have taken strips down to final dimensions with both the #2 and #3. With a very sharp blade and set for a thin shaving both do a good job of finish planing. The #2 is a little bit easier to control due to the smaller size and less weight, but if you use a #3 enough I think anyone could get used to it and be able to finish plane with no problem. If I was going to buy only one plane for rod making, I would get the Lie-Nielsen #2 and groove it to .002. After buying a few used planes from eBay, I am set up like this: a #3 grooved to .006 for rough planing, a #3 grooved to .002 for finish planing. A #2 grooved to .003 for "intermediate" planing, and a #2 grooved somewhere around .001 (meaning just barely grooved) for finish planing. I don't use my block planes at all anymore.

    In case I am confusing people, yes I do own a Morgan handmill, but I actually enjoy hand planing, and if I am making a hex rod I still use my planing form and hand plane it. If I am making a penta or quad I have to use the Morgan Handmill since I don't have the right planing forms for them.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    The Lie-Nielsen is a copy of the Stanley bedrock plane! They can be found at flea markets and swap meets and were made all they way up to a 8.  (Patrick Coffey)

      For the 3  through 8,  I agree.  The #1  is worth  far more  than  the Lie-Nielsen, and the #2's are approaching the price of a Lie-Nielsen. If you are consistently finding #1's in  flea markets, you could make a fair living selling them!  (Larry Blan)

      If you can get a #2 or especially a #1 bedrock in good condition it'll cost you many times the price of a LN. Both are highly prized by wealthy collectors. If you find one cheap, please let me know and I'll take it off your hands in a heartbeat.  (Bill Hoy)

        I have almost a complete set that I got at swap meets and garage sales and never paid over $75 for any of them though have not found a No 1 yet. Only tool collectors and dealers ask that much for them, most people at swap meets and garage sales just look at the as just planes.  (Patrick Coffey)

          Unfortunately most of the guys at swap meets around here are clued in on the value of the smaller planes. I've never heard of or seen a seller having a #1 or #2 and didn't know the going price since I started looking for bench planes. As for garage sales, I guess we are too spread out around here. I see one or two in a year, and driving around looking for one is very nonproductive.  (Darryl Hayashida)


I need some help. I ordered a Lie-Nielsen #2 plane and it arrived last night. How in the devil do you hold it? Wrapped my hand every which way around it and still I either strike my fingers on the blade adjustment, the butt of my hand hangs over the end or my fingers are laying along the blade.

Is this a toy or a serious plane? Would expect that it should cut wood if I can just figure it out.  (Don Schneider)

    I grip it with my index and  middle fingers and push with my palm. I had indicated in my previous post on the subject that I have pretty tiny hands. I think that it is just about right for me. I hold the strip with the left hand and plane with the right, no clamps. It cuts smoothly enough that I can hold the strip with little pressure.  If you have stubby fingers it may be a tight fit. I wonder if you could adjust the blade so that the knob is farther in and away from the handle.

    It is definitely a serious plane. I love mine, although I had it initialized when I ordered it from Woodcraft. That is some ugly engraving for sure. Wish I had not done it, worst $3 I have ever spent.  (Bob Maulucci)


I'm thinking about giving a bench plane a try, but am wondering whether I should purchase an old Stanley #3 or purchase a new one, any pros or cons?  (Tim Stoltz)

    An older one will be better made and none the worse for wear most likely.  (Tony Young)

    The #3s are cheaper and easier to find than a #2. (#4s are really cheap). You might try to also find a Millers Falls 8/8C, Record 3/3C, or a Sargent 408/408C.  I have  the Sargent equivalent (408), and while a bit harder to handle than the #2 from LN, it could be the way to go if you only want to use one smoothing plane. My latest routine uses the #4, then the 408, and then the #2.  (Bob Maulucci)


For the ultra-precision-better-rod-making hand planers out there  [:)] , got a few questions about using bench planes.

How close to the edge of the blade do you set the edge of the chip breaker?

How wide do you set the mouth?

Any other insights on the effective use of a No 3 would be appreciated.  (Kyle Druey)

    It's all related to the depth of cut as is the width of the mouth.  Unless you're taking the cut really close to the stage you need the block plane for try setting the frog so the mouth's opened 2 mm and the chip breaker about the same back from the edge of the iron and just mess with settings from there. If the chip breaker is too far back you'll get lifting and too close and clogging will result because the curls will jam the mouth.

    Do a couple of things before you start though. First make sure the chip breaker is set fair against the iron with no gap showing at all else the shavings will clog there, also make sure the iron is sharp or you'll be blaming the settings for any problems you may encounter.  (Tony Young)

      The only thing I would add to what Tony said is: Make sure the back of the iron is flat.  (Don Schneider)

    As previous posts stated, the mouth adjustment depends on the depth of cut.  I bet the chip breakers on mine are set somewhere around 1/32" to 1/16". I fussed until I get the cut I want. Make sure the edge of the chip breaker is square and will not let chips get underneath it.

    I now have a Sargent 408 which I believe is #3 sized. It is smaller that my Stanley 4 or Millers Falls 9. It is a great all around plane. I think I still prefer the Lie-Nielsen #2 to get the last bit.  I rough bevel the strips big in the beveler and heat treat. Then, I usually hog off some cane with the #4, switch to do most of the planing with the Sargent 408, and then get the last .020 or so with the #2 and the LN 212. While waiting for quad forms, I built Bob Nunley's 5' 2 wt one piece on Saturday. It went very fast, and I got very nicely cut strips to glue up today.  (Bob Maulucci)

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions on using the bench plane.  I was able to fiddle with it until I could make some smooth cuts.  While the bench plane cuts nicely, it does not give me as good a feel as the 9 1/2 block plane does.  If only the cutting ability of the bench plane could be combined with the feel of the block plane... is there such a plane out there that is like that?  (Kyle Druey)

      You get used to it pretty fast if you keep doing it and one handed use becomes second nature in time but you do need to keep the iron sharp just like always.  (Tony Young)

        So a Stanley #3 is the plane to use?  (Tim Stoltz)

          A #3 is good.

          Something a lot of people will find is if their bench top is too high it'll be almost impossible to use a bench plane one handed. My bench is quite low because that's what I feel is the way benches made for using hand tools should be so it's bench height is where my knuckles are when I stand straight and let my arms hang loose and a fist is made. Many people feel more comfortable with higher benches but I think this is as a result of power tools being predominant as these are more comfortable to use at kitchen bench height which is a lot higher. So, if you want to try using a bench plane and find it difficult try a lower height and see if it improves anything. You'll likely find the finishing stages of planing are easier too but that is a personal thing.  (Tony Young)

    I was rough planing a couple days ago and tried using a spokeshave and it worked very well.  The two side handles made it easy to manage the angles and the short sole made it easy to get close to the clamp.  And you could push or pull, whatever was convenient.  I liked it better than a bench plane.

    These were soaked strips so, even with the wide mouth I didn't have any tearout at the nodes.  That might be a problem with dry strips. Kunz makes a spokeshave with an adjustable mouth; I had one years ago but I couldn't find it when I looked.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

      That's a really good point, pulling the shave would be a great way to do the job quickly but how did you hold the strip and use the shave in a form?  (Tony Young)

        With an ordinary spring clamp.  If you have an unruly strip you might need a couple.  But with the short sole of the spokeshave you can get close to the clamp.  My wood roughing forms have a block on the bottom and I clamp that in the vise, so the clamp can be put about anywhere along the length.

        I think when people use a 2 handed bench plane they use a clamp (right?) Anyway that’s what I tried but the shave seemed a lot handier, to me.

        I'm not sure if I'd use it past the roughing stage.  I'd worry about a big node chip.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)


I just got a Lie-Nielsen #1 for my birthday and have used it in roughing out some blanks. The blade tends to dull quickly and was wondering if a different angle of sharpening will help hold an edge better?  (Chad Wigham)

    I teach some classes for Highland Hardware and in a class about a week  and  a  half  ago  we  opened  a  shipment  of  5  new Lie-Nielsen planes with the new cryogenic blades and all the blades were bad.  You can tell the new blades because they have Lie-Nielsen engraved in them.  I have seen these blades in fine shape.  I own 4 Lie-Nielsen planes myself and I believe wholeheartedly in the quality of the tools they produce.  Something just went wrong with a batch of blades.  We had exactly the problem you describe.   Anyway, Lie-Nielsen replaced the blades, So they are aware of the problem.  I would encourage you to contact them or the store the plane came from.  (Louis Cahill)

      I use a L-N plane that I bought in 2000 and it will plane about four strips before it needs to be sharpened.  It would do more, I think, but at that point it is beginning to grab a little and I don't want to push it.  I can't say enough good things about Lie-Nielsen planes.   (Hal Manas)

        I have several L-N’s that I use for rod building and for other woodworking.  In the past 2 years I have been more and more attracted to wooden planes.  I have a few HNT Gordon planes including the palm smoother witch I use on the bamboo.  The plane has a 60 degree blade set and a 30 degree bevel.  So the blade can be inverted and used as a scraper.  It’s great on heat treated cane.  It’s rough on the wood sole and I find I have to lap it more often than my other planes.  I have made 2 wooden planes of my own.  A 10” smoother and a 21” jointer and love them both.  I’ve kicked around the idea of building a rod plane with a 60 degree set and a sturdier sole but haven’t made the time to do it yet.  I love the Gordon.  It’s my desert island plane.  I highly recommend it if you like wooden planes.  Not everyone dose.  I’ll say this, mine has never chipped a node.  Dose anyone else use something unusual?  I always need a new plane!  (Louis Cahill)

          I too use the L-N's and other planes for both wood and cane, and love wooden planes too. I trust you've read James Krenov on making wooden planes to suit the job. Can be wonderful tools.

          I was given a Gordon (isn't that the Australian brand?) to test on cane. Very small block plane in ebony, with the brass insert on the mouth. About the size of a L-N bronze block plane but low-slung. Beautiful tool. But I did a few test passes on cane in a form and found that the ebony sole was wearing from the bamboo. Just a dozen licks and I saw several scratches, enough to tell me that this plane body wouldn't last in real use on cane. I think it's a shame since the plane is so beautiful, and its comfortable shape would seem great for cane.

          So I think it would be great to build a wooden plane or two specifically for planing bamboo but not sure what wood is tough enough for the sole. Anybody tried lignum vitae?  (Rick Funcik)

            I have several of DJ Duck's Wooden (German Made) block planes. What DJ did was apply a Brass base to the planes to make them usable for Cane work.  (Marty DeSapio)

            Have you ever checked out   The guy there, Bill, is very, very helpful with a lot of insight on wooden planes. I think he sells HNT Gordon.  (Patrick Mullen)

    I just recently purchased the L-N 9 1/2 with the groove. I have been thrilled to death with it and have come closer to final dimensions with it than my record and Stanley planes with Hock blades. I did alter the blade angle to around 30 degrees. I saw in response to this thread that  Hock is selling a blade for this plane. Has anyone tried it yet? Is there any advantage to using it over the L-N blade that came with the plane?  (Bill Bixler)

      I don't think so. The L-N blades for the past year are Cryo treated making them superior to the older L-N blades which in my opinion were better than Hock's. If your blade has the L-N stamping then you have the new issue.  (Marty DeSapio)

    I just got their (L-N's) 9 1/2 and I thought that its blade was right on but, now I am beginning to wonder.

    What do you mean by 'dull quickly'?  I am currently doing a final taper on a tip section of a Dickerson 7613 and I seem to want to sharpen after every two strips.

    The edge seems OK after 2 strips, but redoing the edge gives me a lot of confidence and it just melts away the bamboo.  I am a big L-N fan.  (Patrick Mullen)

      The problem L-N blades I had experience with dulled after a few dozen passes.  You could not finish a strip with one.  What you have sounds typical for a L-N blade.  Hocks last a little longer as they are harder.  They are also harder to sharpen.  (Louis Cahill)

        I don't own a L-N iron but the steel used and the temper should keep them as sharp as a Hock. I wonder if the edge is being slightly rounded as it's being sharpened?

        I hollow grind my cutting edges using a grind wheel. You only have to sharpen the leading and trailing edge of the iron that way rather than the whole surface. As I don't use any Heath Robertson type sharpening devices and sharpen by hand and eye having only fore and aft edges to sharpen help make sure I'm keeping things straight as well.  I sharpen by hand on a water stone and finish with a wheel that has diamond paste on it until the two edges are gone then I regrind and start again.  Makes for fast sharpening with a lasting edge.

        One other nice thing about sharpening without jigs is you use the whole surface of the stone.  (Tony Young)

        I find that the L-N block plane blades are superior to Hock's. They are made of thicker stock and are hardened at least as well. I have newish  Hock blades  with the  back polished  and will trade even for L-N 9 1/2  block plane blades in the same condition.  (Marty DeSapio)

          I think it’s a matter of preference.  The two are defiantly different and I enjoy having both. If one is not giving me what I want I can switch.  Keep in mind I use my planes for other applications than bamboo.  You may not like the Hock blade you have used but don’t write them off all together.  The important thing is that you are using a hand plane, and in my book, that makes you a person of character no matter what blade you put in it!  (Louis Cahill)

          I have been using hock blades for some time in my Stanley. this Christmas I received a L-N for Christmas. I have been trying to decide which blade is better. The blades are certainly different, the L-N seems to sharpen easier both are good blades. As I work with the L-N more the blade is lasting about the same as my hock blade. Some of this may be because I wobble less with the L-N plane since it has a narrower body.  I just found out there is a hock replacement blade for the L-N the number is LN138. The L-N plane will have to be pried from my cold dead fingers hock blade or no!   (Timothy Troester)

            There is no better plane (not even close) then the LN block plane! I use my Stanley 9 1/2 to rough and when I switch to the LN to finish it's like going from a Dodge Dart to a  Ferrari 308.  (Marty DeSapio)

            On the topic of the Lie-Nielsen 9 1/2, when I called LN to order mine, a really helpful woman named Jennifer fielded the call...

            I didn't even know that they made a 9 1/2 at the time; I was calling about a #3 bench plane. During our conversation, I told her what I was going to use the plane for and she asked if I would prefer the 9 1/2 and if I wanted the sole grooved at .005...i went with the 9 1/2 and the .005 groove.

            Did any of you L-N users opt for the grooved sole? it was perfect right out of the box and for a neophyte like me, a great help.  (Patrick Mullen)

              I use three planes. A Stanley 9 1/2 for  roughing, a L-N standard angle 9 1/2 with the GROOVE for planing close to the form and a  small L-N Special with a removable/replaceable sole plate for the last .003-.005". Works great with no form nicking and no need to set the form to allow for the groove in the plane sole.  (Marty DeSapio)

            I've been using a L-N I bought in early October - I sharpen after every strip, as an obsessive, compulsive thing... and I need to sharpen after every two or three - I keep my stones ready next to my bench (well.... big hunk of 2x10 on a couple of saw horses in the garage...)

            I did just take delivery of a L-N low angle block plane on Friday. The first thing I did with it was to plane the surface of my rough forms - hard (rock hard maple - that made my neighbor’s table saw choke and whine like a whipped puppy when I cut 'em , and blew the GFI at least 15 times.... G) anyway long story short the L-N low angle block plane just sliced through the maple, leaving the kind of surface that would get Pete Townshend excited....

            Highly recommended and I'm really looking forward to using it more. (Chris Spurrell)

              I've played around a little with the L-N block planes.  There's a fella a few miles a way from me that I met through the 7 x 10 mini lathe list, who is first and foremost a cabinet maker.  The planes are schweeeeeeet! (Mark Wendt)

              Just thought I'd throw it out there one more time.  I don't count strips between sharpenings.  Instead, I count rods.  For more information, see Troy Miller's recent discussions of carbide tipped plane irons.  (Harry Boyd)

                Are You serious Harry, or are we pulling a leg here? Do You mean You can plane several rods with one carbide tipped blade from rough to final?  (Danny Twang)

                  Yes, I'm serious.  But the carbide tipped plane irons come with a pretty steep learning curve.  Before anyone switches to carbide he should first learn to quickly and accurately sharpen regular plane irons.  Obtaining the correct carbide, finding a competent machinist to braze it to your own irons, and learning not to gouge your irons on the planing forms takes some time. Cutting carbide requires diamonds.  I use a handful of diamond stones to establish the correct angle.  Follow up with diamond paste on a leather wheel.  Information on all  this is in the archives, and also in George Barnes' new book.  Thanks again to George Barnes and Tom Smithwick for bringing this to my attention several years ago.

                  The payoff?  I sharpen four blades, and final plane all the strips for four or five rods.  My roughing is done with a powered  beveler.  (Harry Boyd)

    I took the blade and found the original angle as I mounted it in my Veritas jig, then added the one degree on the adjustment knob. After a couple of sharpening times the blade is holding an edge much better & lasting longer. What a sweet plane.....(Chad Wigham)

      I messed with micro bevels a year ago, and did not have better results than just working on the main bevel. Until Sunday.

      I was sharpening a blade, and things just were not going well at all. It was one of those days when the shop gremlins were out in force, and everything I touched went bad.  After working on the edge for an hour, I finally lost patience with the blade, and touched it to a leather wheel coated with white rouge. Just for a second, and with a light touch. I then lapped the back of the blade on my standard finishing station - a piece of 2000 grit sandpaper that is at least 6 months old. No silicon carbide left, just shiny ground metal. I tested the edge and it was far sharper than anything I have ever achieved, and my blades shave hair.  The edge was clearly the "scary sharp" edge that I've read about but never achieved. I looked at the blade through a magnifying glass, and saw that the wheel had produced an incredibly thin secondary bevel.

      I planed three strips afterward, and they were the best three strips I have ever done. Right on specs, and the fit was perfect. I don't know whether the result was the better sharpness, increased angle, or both, but I am sold.

      The leather wheel was from a sharpening system sold by woodcraft. It comes with coarse grit, and a white polish or rouge. I just touched the bevel lightly to the wheel for a second or two, and lifted the blade so the edge came in contact with the leather. Just did it by hand with no jig or support. (Jeff Schaeffer)

        I have been using a similar system for a number of years.  I made the wheel out of a piece of maple that was about 1 1/2 inches wide and turned round on a lathe.  I mounted an old piece of leather on the wheel using contact cement.  The wheel has a whole that is drilled through it and it is attached to a 1/4 HP motor with an arbor that I picked up at a hardware store.   I do not have a honing guide and do it free hand.  I just touch the blade to the rotating wheel and use a green honing compound from Lee Valley.  I have used a green honing compound from Texas Knifemakers supply, but found the Lee Valley gets me a sharper edge faster.  I run the blade side to side over the rotating wheel and it takes about 20 to 30 seconds and I can shave with it.  Periodically I regrind the 30 degree angle on the plane blade, as I have noticed it is fairly easy to round over the 30 degree bevel, especially if you put too much pressure onto the blade when sharpening.  I even polish the back of the blade using the wheel.  I no longer use the water stones or sandpaper.  this system works great and I can do about 7 or 8 blades in 5 minutes or so.  the system is not fancy and there is some wobble to the wheel, but it works quite well.  I would consider buying a honing guide like the one that Tom Smithwick has with his powered strop.  I think you can see pictures of it on the Tips site or from the site that Chris Bogart has.  (Mark Babiy)


I have a Lie-Nielsen #1 which I got as a present which actually is small enough to use with one hand; what's the best size bench plane to use for rods and what's the best clamp down method ? thanks for any info on this.  (David Haidak)

    If you can use the plane you have with two hands just try it that way first. If it works it's be fine as the main thing is getting more weight behind the plane when you push it than you can using only one hand.  Otherwise just any bench plane which is to say the basic Stanley plane high schools use in wood work classes. There is no real need to use a longer plane than that because longer planes like fore and try planes of # and up are for truing wood surfaces which isn't what you're really wanting to do with the bamboo.

    Short planes like block planes and shorter bench planes will follow dips in wood surfaces so plane as you may the wood

    surface being planed will never be trued, it will be planed clear but not trued.  That's why there are long planes. A longer plane such as ones from #5 and above ride over the dips and take out the rises so after each pass the rises are lowered and sooner or later you get to the dips and the whole surface is trued.

    That's not what we're doing with planing bamboo strips though which is why you don't need a long plane, just something that allows more grunt being put into each pass.

    All you're doing at this stage is hogging off excessive bamboo which is why using two hands and your back is better than one hand holding the strip and the other planing.

    One other thing that will help if you decide to use a bench plane is make sure your bench is the right height. Properly made a bench is a tool as much as a plane or chisel is. Most benches aren't designed properly so they are not tools,  just a flatish surface to pile junk on and clear for action from time to time.  If you're going to use hand tools much and planes in particular consider making the bench top the height your knuckles reach from the ground when you stand straight with your arms relaxed by your side and hands made into a fist.  This will look extremely low because benches made for power tools are much higher, about the same as kitchen benches but a low bench is what you need to allow you to get behind the tool and really use it.  I can't understand how people doing a lot of hand planing on too high benches don't wind up with Tennis Elbow or something like that because they use their elbow as the means of transferring force rather than the shoulder and back with the elbow really just straightening out the arm during the stroke.

    I know there are thousands of people who'll say they like their bench high but it's what you get used to and if you ever tried a lower bench when using hand tools you'd see what I mean.

    As for the clamp to use. The easiest to get and use would be an F Clamp (cramp to be more accurate) or G cramp.  The problem with screw type clamps is they are a bit slow, that's why I use a bench hook. They're faster to apply and loosen but you'll have to make or by one from a specialist hand tool place.

    If you use this method and find the spline slipping from the clamp, don't over tighten the clamp, sharpen the plane iron. (Tony Young)


Got a Lie-Nielsen # 3 and occasionally it collects cane pieces under the chip breaker. I know when this is happening as I have to set the blade deeper and deeper in order to get a cut. Removing the chips instantly returns the plane to great. I set the chip breaker about 0.100 back from the blade edge. I've looked over the leading edge of the breaker when installed and it seems to be nearly a seamless fit to the blade. It only takes a single piece about 0.010" thick under the chip breaker to cause some planing difficulty.

Anyone else experiencing this problem and if so what did you do about it. It is really a pain to disassemble the plane every strip or 2 and clean it.  (Don Anderson)

    I had the same problem many years ago on a Stanley plane I used. An old German master Cabinet Maker, (our neighbor) watched me tear it apart several times and offered a suggestion. Seams that after time the chip breaker can  wear as well as the iron. I dissembled it again for him to inspect and then "Honed" the back side of the chip breaker to bring it back flush with the iron. Problem solved. Seams that after time the assembly and disassembly of the tool causes the slightest wear and sometimes curving of the contact allowing for just enough of a gap to catch chips.

    Don't know if this is your problem exactly but thought I would toss it out there. BTW, "Max" is also the one who taught me how to restore and tune old planes. He was definitely a "Master Cabinetmaker".  (Jimi Genzling)

    I find that sometimes I need to bend the chip breaker plate in a slight arc to get a little more pressure at the leading edge. This is assuming that the edge is as you said, flush to the blade, and I know this probably isn't your problem, but I have to mention it. The bevel is down so that the leading edge of the chip breaker is on the flat side of the blade.  (Darryl Hayashida)


I heard a while ago something said about two handed planes being used for rodmaking.  Obviously cane rods are being built with Stanley 9-1/2's etc, but I'm wondering is there any real benefit to a two handed plane as I think that was what was mentioned wherever it was that I heard something to that effect.

It was something to do with the strips lying down better in the forms I believe....

Just a curious question...

I should be getting a set of forms in a few days and sorta getting ready to get started is all.  (John Silveira)

    Here we go again.....

    It is NOT obvious that cane rods are made with your 9 1/2 plane. Only Garrison did that, and he was a railway engineer, NOT a person knowing anything of how to make things wooden. Ask ANY competent carpenter if he would plane a 4 feet long board with a Stanley or L-N or anything the size of the 9 1/2. This plane was made for planing the grain end of wood, and the occasionally drawer.

    It is common knowledge, except among rodmakers :-) that the longer the board, the longer the plane. So it have been for centuries.

    So WHY are we convinced of the merits of the Stanley 9 1/2?  Because all rodmaking American starts with Garrisons book. For those fortunate of us, raised on domestic rodmaking PLUS the Garrison way, horizons are a little broader.....

    Never NEVER use the word obviously  when discussing rod making. There are countless roads to wander when talking rod making. None are the right one, all of them are walkable. Don’t cheat Yourself by not trying different paths.  (Carsten Jorgensen)

      The only reason the 9../ 601/2 is used is because it can be used easily with one hand. If there was an easy and FAST way to anchor the strip in the form I would use a bench plane.  (Marty DeSapio)

        Well then, here You are: Use a clamp, the one hand operated type. Look in Todd’s Tips Page.

        Takes you some 10 seconds to fasten/unfasten.  (Carsten Jorgensen)

        This has been listed on list several times over the last 18 months or so and it's completely true. It was plain weird to use a block plane on a long strip when I began this game and I still find it strange in truth.  What I do as do several others on list who have mentioned it is and I'm sure others who haven’t is clamp the strip to the from and use a bench plane which is much better suited to the job.  The bench plane makes for easier work as you get both hands and your back into it and as you are using more force you don't need to sharpen the iron as often. Basically it's much faster and less effort seems to be used all round.

        I guess most using a bench plane use a screw type clamp which works, I found the best thing is to use a bench hook made of spring steel which is used by putting the shaft of the hook through a hole in the bench then tap the hook part firmly clamping the work piece between the hook and the bench top. The advantage of using a hook rather than a screw clamp is it's speed of use. You just knock the top of the bench hook to loosen it, flip the strip and tap the hook home and continue. I made mine but you can buy them at place that cater for hand tool users, you wont find one at Walmart.

        I only really use a block plane to reach final dimensions.  (Tony Young)

    A point to consider- how wide are your good/best sharpening stones? my good sharpening stones are quite narrow- I can use them for my number three planes narrow blade, and the stack of block plane blades that I use, but I have to revert to the scary sharp system for my number four blades as they are too wide for the stone.

    Also, I find that I get good results with the number three (and four) planes with one hand if I push and guide the plane along the strip, not trying to push down as you tend to do with the block plane. Watch the handle-keep it vertical to use it as a visual guide to prevent rocking from side to side until you get 'in the groove.'  (Dave Kennedy)

      I've been trying to keep up with the "Bench Plane" thread and don't recall seeing anything on the angle the blades are being sharpen.

      I have a newer Stanley 12-204. The throat opening can be adjusted by moving the blade (I think). Might be just were it comes apart? I thought I would give it a try and see if I want to spend lots of money on new toys!

      I try to split my strips so I don't have a lot planing to do and use a new style Stanley 9 1/2 with a Hock blade. I call it "The Hog", because I set the blade deep and let 'er eat! Works OK for me, but my son has some trouble with pushing it through, so I've been wondering about trying the bench plane method.  (David Dziadosz)

        You'll notice that the bevel rides down, or to the rear, in bench planes.  Since that's the case, you will not want to change the bevel or the iron.  If effect, the beveled part of the blade becomes part of the sole of the plane.  Changing the angle will not make the plane work any better.  (Harry Boyd)


As I have a L-N #2, I must add that it is not solely the ability to use two hands that make a bench plane better. When I use one hand with the #2, it still has it all over a block plane. I think the chip breaker and blade angle must be partially the source of its power. I am no expert on woodworking tools, just an end user. I think a hand size plane with a bench plane style blade angle and chip breaker would be the ultimate.  (Bob Maulucci)

    You're absolutely right. The L-N #2 is much better than any block plane for planing bamboo and it is all to do with the angle of attack of the iron.  When you place the iron at that angle and you have the bevel at the correct angle you get two things, One is the resistance of  the cut is reduced and the iron stays sharp much longer. Two reason of themselves to use a bench plane to hog most of the excess bamboo off. The chip breaker doesn't aid in the cutting as such but it's extremely important in preventing tear out set in proper conjunction with the gap of the mouth mouth and the distance it's set from the cutting edge of the iron.

    I made a plane exactly as you suggest. It was marginally larger than a 9 1/2, has an adjustable throat and the same angle of attack as a bench plane with a chip breaker.  It was made using a dovetailed sole to the sides so it looked nice and it works great though I need to do a better job with the adjustment. I currently have a micrometer adjustment basically using the same system as the old transitional Baileys but while that's OK for a bench plane it's not fine enough for a single handed bench plane (it's not a block plane with the iron set this steeply) where even just a very little backlash makes it too difficult to get the right depth of cut for this sort  of work.

    Anyhow, this adjustment problem is a hassle for any time I sharpen it so it needs to be improved.  Currently I have too much happening to mess about with it but when I have more spare time I'll make another fixing the bugs I found with the first one and I'll let you know how it goes.  (Tony Young)


Is it realistic to use a bench plane to obtain the final small taper in the tip sections, or does one need the much heralded L-N 212?  Are there any other methods?  (Louis DeVos)

    I'll throw in my two cents worth here. I learned to plane cane using planes that increased in size as the strips got smaller rather than the more common method of using a big bench plane for roughing down to a 9 1/2 or smaller for finish planing. The rational is that the heavy plane for final planing allows you to use only the weight of the plane to make the cut and takes the inconsistency of hand pressure, etc. out of the most critical part of planing. Also, the light planes are more pleasant to use when making the all those repetitive strokes during roughing.  (Kevin Callaway)

      I've had great service on  final tapers from a Lie-Nielsen Hand Scraper.  I use a Veritas Variable Burnisher set at 15 degrees to keep a good edge on the scraper.  Both can be had at a place like Japan Woodworker for minimal expense.  (Doug Blair)

        God bless George Barnes and the humble card scraper.  Though the steel isn't as good I get free color chips from a local steel siding Co.  Works OK and the price is right. ;^)  On all though, I get chatter if I don't keep a good hook and/or bear down too much.  (Darrol Groth)


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