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Truing blanks... what kind of plane should I get?

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  • Truing blanks... what kind of plane should I get?

    Hello friends.

    Incredibly, despite carving for quite a few months I still don't have a plane! Now that I'm doing more precise in-the-round projects, I'm marking out the blanks on all sides (usually by gluing tracings or prints onto each side of the wood) so I can get a decent first roughing-out with my hand fret saw. Of course, this only works if the blank is true in the first place or all the templates/tracings end up out of line - pretty important as I'm carving robots mostly right now.

    So my question: given I do this probably once a fortnight at most, what's a decent quality plane that'll enable me to get good enough flat, perpendicular/parallel sides to my blanks? I.e. what sizes, brands and price ranges should I look at?

    For instance, a Lie Nielson No 3 smoothing plane would be the stuff of dreams... But at £350 it seems like overkill. By contrast a £20 Amazon no-name jack plane looks like an almighty pain to set up and use judging by the reviews. Ideally I'd be spending less than £150 on something I can buy and then not think about again.

    For context, the typical blanks I use are 3 x 3 x 12" long for the more chunky ones; meanwhile some of the stock I have for relief work is around 1/2 * 12 * 6. That sort of size. So I'm guessing anything above a No 3 is going to be unwieldy...

    Many thanks again,
    Jof

  • #2
    Hi Jof , I personally don't think a Hand Plane will do what your looking to have it do . I think a Table Saw will do a much better job for what you want , and it can be used for a lot of different uses. Set the Width that you want , run it thru , turn it and run it thru again and your piece is Square . Just saying . Merle

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Merle Rice View Post
      Hi Jof , I personally don't think a Hand Plane will do what your looking to have it do . I think a Table Saw will do a much better job for what you want , and it can be used for a lot of different uses. Set the Width that you want , run it thru , turn it and run it thru again and your piece is Square . Just saying . Merle
      That would be ideal. Sadly I live in a small rented house in central London and my workshop is also my bedroom... So power tools are kinda out of the question I suppose I could use it in the garden but I'm not expecting my next place to have one.

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      • #4
        Hi Jof:

        Would it be possible to get your wood with exact dimensions? I doubt a hand plane is a proper answer to the problem. Do you have a school nearby with a shop or a friend who can dimension it? Even a hardware store?

        A hand plane could do it, but you need to develop that skill and that would be my last option. I have done it many years ago and quickly learned it wasn't for me.

        This is a resourceful forum and maybe someone has another answer.

        Regardless...good luck.
        Bill
        Living among knives and fire.

        http://www.westernwoodartist.com

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        • #5
          Getting the wood with the exact dimensions is probably the best idea; cheapest (in the sense I don't need to buy a plane) and certainly the quickest.

          I'm still tempted to true the wood myself using a hand plane. I watched a couple of videos and it seems like a useful skill to have in general. For one, we'd never been short of chopping boards for the kitchen That said, there's only so many hours in the day and sometimes it feels like there's not enough time for wood carving as it is... let alone learning to wield a plane like a pro.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jof View Post
            Getting the wood with the exact dimensions is probably the best idea; cheapest (in the sense I don't need to buy a plane) and certainly the quickest.

            I'm still tempted to true the wood myself using a hand plane. I watched a couple of videos and it seems like a useful skill to have in general. For one, we'd never been short of chopping boards for the kitchen That said, there's only so many hours in the day and sometimes it feels like there's not enough time for wood carving as it is... let alone learning to wield a plane like a pro.
            Taking a lot of time to plane was one of my considerations to give it up. I'd rather be wood carving, wood working, or just about anything else. Regardless, I guess if you do enough of it and have the skill then it would be faster than what I did.

            Another idea is a cabinet shop or something along the same line that can square your wood for free or nearly free.

            Hopefully someone else has a better idea?
            Bill
            Living among knives and fire.

            http://www.westernwoodartist.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Can the surfaces be just smooth enough for the application of the drawings?
              I wonder if a table-top band saw might be useful.
              Mine is about 8" throat which would easily cut the blank sizes that you describe.

              A hand plane such as a Stanley Bailey #5 Jack plane will certainly smooth the surfaces
              that you eventually carve off altogether. Do they need to be "that" smooth?

              I keep coming back to the need for a center-line on my carvings.
              I'll repair that as fast as it might get carved off.
              The blocks are split wood, maybe 24" x 5" x 8" maximum, just barely smooth enough
              for points and corners of a drawing to be added.
              Brian T

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              • #8
                Another possibility is to cut your outlines 3-4mm outside of where they are marked. This will leave enough wood for making adjustments.

                Claude
                My FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ClaudesWoodCarving/

                My Pinterest Page: https://www.pinterest.com/cfreaner/

                My ETSY Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClaudesWoodcarving

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Brian T View Post
                  Can the surfaces be just smooth enough for the application of the drawings?
                  They don't need to be super smooth but it helps; for instance when using photo mount spray the drawing won't adhere to a rough surface. But probably the most important thing for me is all sides perpendicular/parallel.

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                  • #10
                    Ah, I'm never that precise or careful. Might explain why all my carvings are a bit lop-sided.
                    Brian T

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Brian T View Post
                      Ah, I'm never that precise or careful. Might explain why all my carvings are a bit lop-sided.
                      If you just lean a bit more in the same direction when you look at them Brian they straighten right up.

                      Tinwood

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                      • #12
                        Turning the carving sideways to see only one side works quite well!!!!

                        By good fortune, I have had Haida carvers show me their sketch books
                        and explain how they get the left/right symmetry made.
                        Better drawings and a careful center line help a lot.

                        Jof makes me think that I might need better shaped pieces of wood that just split off chunks of a log.
                        Brian T

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                        • #13
                          Maybe it's me but I don't see the point of truing up a board that you're going to carve away. I understand getting it somewhat smooth to apply a pattern. I prefer to freehand sketch the highlights of the pattern on the wood myself or if necessary, lay a piece of graphite paper on the board and trace the pattern on. Once you carve the wood or the pattern away, you only have to draw it back on as needed anyway. Proficiency in freehand sketching comes with practice. The desired end result is a working model for you to carve. It doesn't need to be perfect and definitely need not be art quality.

                          Often times, I take a piece of scrap--a cutoff from another project, sketch some outlines and cut or carve out what I need. And I go on from there.

                          You could also just take a wide chisel and start truing up the board by hand and eye with a square. It is more work but really not much difference from using a plane. It does take some practice. And like they say, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Start with a piece that's a little smaller than your widest chisel, and go from there. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

                          Bob L

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