Smoothing Plane is First Choice for Gnarly Grain
I have some figured hardwood that I’m having trouble planing with my No. 4 smoother. Would I be better off using a scraper plane?
Allen Winston, Kennewick, WA
A smoothing plane is the better choice, so give yours another chance first. Sharpen the cutting edge, then hone it on an 8,000-grit stone. Close the plane’s throat tightly, leaving just enough room for very thin shavings. This should work with most figured woods. When it doesn’t, increase the blade’s cutting angle. For most planes, that means honing a 5° to 10° back bevel on the iron. With a Lie-Nielsen smoother, you could change to a higher-angle frog instead. If you are still getting tearout, then resort to a scraper plane or card scraper, which because of their very high angle of attack do not cause tearout.