Jack in the Country

The jack plane can work across the grain to start, and then gradually turn with the grain as the work begins in earnest. Here's where you learn the truth of the grain. If the surface is rough and jagged, you're working against the grain. Orient the wood on the bench so you're planing into the backside of rising grain, like stroking a cat from nose to tail. In some pieces you can have rising grain on the left half and falling grain on the right half. The grain will also rise and dive around a knot, so you may find places you can only plane into or out

Follow the scrub with a jack and a trying plane to level the hollows.
Winding sticks will amplify any subtle twist in the surface.

of, but not straight across. Here again, tear-outs can make extra work for you. Turn either the wood or the plane, and back off the iron to take finer shavings. Wild wood can be a challenge, but clear, air-dried, straight-grained stock will work sweetly with shavings flowing from the plane in long rolls.

The jack plane has a handle or "toat" for your right hand, but no specific place for your left. When you're planing a broad surface, you lead with the inside of your left wrist. Place your thumb on the near side of the plane and grasp the far side with your fingers. Many old planes have deep contours worn into the beech by the long-dead user's fingers.

When you're planing the edges of boards—when the wood is narrower than the plane iron, you can turn your left wrist around and grasp the near side of the plane. Place your thumb on top and let your fingers ride against the side of the board to steady the plane in its passage.

The jack works with the grain in shorter strokes than the longer planes that will follow. Work your way to the end, taking off the obvious high spots as you go. You'll find wax or tallow rubbed on the bottom of the plane a great help. As with any plane, ease off and give the iron a little lift across the surface on each return stroke. Keep sighting down the surface to see how it's going. Check for wind with the sticks, and for cupping or crowning with a straightedge. When the jack plane has reached the entire surface, you may want to adjust it to take a finer cut and have another go, or it may be time move on to the next plane.

When you pick up the next plane, you must put the first one down. I loyally attend the always-set-the-plane-down-on-its-side school of thought. This may not be as important in pristine workshops, but if you work near any foot traffic on bare earth, the air is constantly full of settling grit—making every horizontal surface death to the cutting edge.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment