Bamboo Tips - Tips Area - Planing - Low Angle Planes


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Rule

My question is this, does anyone use a low angle plane?  If so, for which purpose is it best suited?  I know Garrison used one, but it seems to me that he was kind of a  plane nut  (no offense intended).  But then, he was an engineer...  Anyway, I now have one, as well as a nice new Record with a Hock blade, and I would like to know if it is worth keeping or trading in.  (Jason Swan)

    I don't like low angle planes for rod work. They seem to lift nodes more than standard planes. Low angle planes are great for composite materials (Formica) though. Now this is just my opinion so don't get mad if you use a 60 1/2. If all I had was a 60 1/2 I could make a perfectly good blank with it. (Marty DeSapio)

    If you have a low angle plane, by all means use it.  I find it useful when rough planing, but I usually don't use it for final planing.  It is difficult to get it to cut well enough for final planing.  I have two and use them all of the time.  (Ralph Moon)

    I have no problem at all with the 60 1/2 Stanley (with the standard iron).  I’ve tried to make a rod with only this plane, and it was no sweat. I do prefer my Record 9 1/2/Stanley #18 both with Hock irons though, but I had no problem with lifting at nodes with the low angle.......(Danny Twang)

    The Low angle plane works  great for hogging off a lot of material. Yes it rips nodes and really does a crappy job of final planing. But for the rough planing work - its a good tool. I have 2 Stanley 60 1/2 planes and use them a lot. Mind you, I also have 4 Record or Stanley 9 1/2's but these are only used for final work. I also have a Lee Valley Low Angle that I sharpened to 46 degrees and use for final work as well. So, a 60 1/2 can work as a final plane only if you resharpen to a steep angle. (Don Anderson)

Rule

I understand the difference and preference in spending more for a better plane. My question is; looking at the different models, i.e. Record 60 1/2 and 9 1/2.  One has a cutter angle of 12 1/2 degrees and the other of about 25 degrees. Is this a problem, or does the sharpened angle fix this difference?  (Pete Van Schaack)

    The low angle planes have a tendency to catch the bamboo fibers and lift them in a strip rather than a thin shaving. This usually happens at a node where the fibers are twisted resulting in a chipped node or a lifted strip. The 91/2 Record or Stanley block planes have worked the best for me.  (Will Jette)

    You've hit on one of the proverbial subjects of endless debate.  Without a doubt, Tony Young will chime in here and give you a different answer, but I'll give you mine first.  In my opinion, it matters greatly.  The 9 1/2 is a much better tool for planing bamboo.  (Harry Boyd)

      I figured this would be hot topic, I was given a Stanley g12-960 which has the 12 degree blade angle, not wanting to insult SWMBO (birthday gift) I wanted a concrete answer for returning for either the Stanley g12-920 or trying to find a Record 9 1/2. The Record 60 1/2 is available at the wood craft store, but the other two are a little more difficult to locate.  (Pete Van Schaack)

      As far as I'm concerned, I'd be out looking for a 9 1/2, or a 15, or a 65 in nice shape! A bit more effort, and some tuning will be necessary (as it will on anything unless it is a LN or better), but the price will probably be a bit lower. If you luck out and find an old one, you won't even need to replace the blade. The old laminated Stanley cutters sharpen up just fine.  (Larry Blan)

      Go with the 9 1/2. The 60 1/2 is great for Formica work but not for cane.  (Marty DeSapio)

      No argument there Harry. Go with the 9 1/2 until something better comes along. By better I mean mechanically not aesthetically though looks do count for a lot IMHO when it comes to pride of ownership and sometimes that does add just a little more effort where it counts.

      You may not know it but I'm a bit of a planeophile, I don't own a hell of a lot of them but I do get right into their workings which pays off and I also make them for specific purposes. There is a lot more going on when you plane than meets the eye and it's well worth finding out exactly what's going on when you plane to get the most out of them. (Tony Young)

Rule

I have another question, low-angle Vs standard block plane.  Which do you use. I read some where that low angle is not the way to go (for bamboo, that it tends to lift long splinters)  But if I understand what has been said, about skewing the plane in relation to the work does  this not in effect lower the  cutting angle. The 45 degree angle on my standard block plane may now be cutting closer to 37 degrees if I push it askew. Is plane choice just a matter of preference and personal working style?  (Daniel Durocher)

    This question is a real can of worms.

    My personal opinion is that it really doesn't make a lot of difference, and it's a matter of personal preference.  You can sharpen the blade of either plane at what ever angle you want, and thus obtain virtually any cutting angle with either plane.  The bed angle of the plane only determines the angle of the back side of the blade.  I sharpen my blades at 45 degrees and generally use a low angle plane for rough planing (57 degree cutting angle) and a standard angle block plane for final planing (65 degree cutting angle).  However, I switch between low angle and standard angle planes quite a bit, and finish the last few thousandths with a grooved sole.  When I switch from the low angle plane to the standard angle plane is a subjective decision and depends on how I feel things are going.  It easier to push the lower angle,  but you get less tearout with the standard angle.

    I don't mess with a scraper at all.  (Robert Kope)

Rule

Which is preferred, standard angle or low  angle plane?  Cattanach, as described in his book, had trouble with the low angle plane splitting the bamboo ahead of the cut, consequently he only uses the standard angle.  I've talked to a couple of experienced rodmakers who use the low angle plane.

Also, is the 0.003" rodmakers groove preferred on the scraper?  (Bob Murphy)

    Most people seem to grind a steeper angle on the low angle plane, so the result is the same.  Mine all run somewhere around York pitch, which is 50 degrees. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by buying a Lie-Nielsen plane in the first place, but some would say that the act of tuning a Stanley and fitting a Hock cryo blade is a sort of rite of  passage.  (Robin Haywood)

    I recently completed my first rod, so I went through your same decision making process a few months ago.

    I started will a Millers Falls adjustable mouth plane. After planing 2 strips, I ordered the Lie-Nielsen standard angle adjustable mouth plane. What a difference. The Millers Falls and old Stanley are fine for hogging the bulk of the cane off, but when it comes to getting the final few passes, the L-N is excellent. I did not get the groove and did nick my forms a few times. But the nicking got less and less as I got the feel of planing.

    For the future, I think I'll get a L-N #3 Bench plane to do the hogging, then finish off with the block plane. The small block plane wears on my hand, arm and shoulder after a while. I got the idea from an archived post by Tom Smithwick. Maybe he'll pipe up with his current thoughts on planes.

    Whatever you decide on the planes, jump in and build your first rod. It seems intimidating at first, but once I quit reading and actually started doing, it wasn't all that difficult. I was extremely pleased with my first effort.  (Rob Holland)

    The low angle plane is a lot easier to get the strips to the triangle stage, there is less friction and the iron seems to stay sharp longer however you do encounter problems of lifting at the later stages where it matters most and this is where the steeper angled plane is better.

    If you have both use them else just get the steeper angled of the two. Can't comment on the groove. (Tony Young)

Rule

Does anyone know if a low angle plane will work as well as the normal angle 9-1/2 or are there more tear-outs or any other problems?   (Hal Manas)

    Low angle will mangle.  There is some angle (???) that is optimum for the grind with the 9 1/2 that seems to give the most efficient result.  I can't remember it offhand.  (Brian Creek)

      35º.  (Mark Wendt)

      I beg to differ.   Before I picked up a Lie-Nielsen plane earlier this year, the plane I could get the smallest shaving with was a Stanley 60 1/2 plane.  If sharp and adjusted well, the low angle planes will work right along side the 9 1/2 style planes.  (Todd Talsma)

        I think that you can grind the plane iron to an angle that will end up being the same for either plane, but I've never gotten it right on the low angle plane and had node lifting problems.

        It's probably like all this stuff.  You can make what you have work if you just fuss with it enough.  Helps to be really tight with a buck so you don't go buy a new tool before you exhaust all the possibilities, eh, Todd? (Brian Creek)

          You betcha!  Sometimes, when you don't ask anyone, you don't realize you're doing it wrong too!  (Todd Talsma)

    I think that the plane blade, or iron, is fitted the other way up on the so-called low angle planes, and is narrower. So the actual angle may be much the same. Which is too small. If you look in Maurer and Elser, page 20, you will see that 3/4'' protrusion from an eclipse or copy guide is recommended, I've found you can go up to an inch, especially with the monster iron sold by Ray Iles. The result is no node chinks, and no particular disadvantage. I'll just pop into the workshop and read off my current settings, hang on a minute..........

    They range from 15 mm for the cryo/Hock to 22 for the Iles, but I have noted that 18 seems to be best, that's what I wanted to check because I thought it was 20. Which it might be when I measure it.   (Robin Haywood)

    I had several people make rods at my house using low angle planes including one Lie-Nielsen.

    We just sharpened the blades at the higher angle of almost degrees to keep them very close to the total angle of around 55 degrees.

    They were fine but the adjustable throat was really important.  (Gordon Koppin)

Rule

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