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 In Shop Blog, Techniques, Tools

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When your handplane won’t create a perfect surface, there are several things to check. Here’s how I diagnose the problem when it looks like I’m making plane tracks in my work.

1. Is the iron set properly in the mouth? Using a little slip of wood, I’ll try to confirm the position of the iron. Is one corner digging in? If it is, I’ll tap the iron with a hammer to get it centered. If this happens regularly, I’ll increase the tension that holds the blade in the body of the tool.

2. Is there a nick in the iron? While I’m confirming the position of the iron, I’ll also look for small nicks – these look like plane tracks at first glance. If I can’t see any nicks, I’ll rub the slip of wood along the iron to feel for nicks. If the wood grabs at any point on the iron, I probably have a nick that I need to remove with sharpening.

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