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Glossary – woodworking hand planes

Shop for Woodworking Hand Planes

If you are new to woodworking or using woodworking hand planes then you may find yourself questioning a few of the commonly used terms. At Wonkee Donkee, we have made a glossary of all woodworking hand planes to make your life easier!

Bevel

The bevelled cutting edge of a woodworking plane The angled cutting edge of a hand plane iron. Can also refer to the result achieved when chamfering the corner of a piece of wood – a 45-degree cut that takes the sharp edge off the corner.

Bevel down

Bevel down hand plane iron Planes that have their irons fitted with the bevel facing down, towards the wood being planed, are know as “bevel-down” planes.

Bevel up

Bevel-up hand plane iron Planes that have their irons fitted with the bevel facing upwards, away from the wood being planed, are know as “bevel-up” planes.

Camber

A cambered hand plane iron is good for reducing the thickness of wood A cambered hand plane iron is one with a curved cutting edge, preferred for some types of planing work such as when initially reducing the thickness of a piece of wood.

Chamfer

Cutting a chamfer with a block plane A narrow, angled edge made on the corner of a piece of wood, usually at 45 degrees, although the angle may vary. Most planes can cut chamfers, but it is often done with a small block plane.

Dado

A dado is a groove cut across the grain; grooving plane; woodworking planes A groove, or channel, that is cut across the grain of the wood. Dados are often made in the uprights of units for shelves to fit into. (See also Groove, below).

Difficult grain

Difficult grain makes it hard to plane without tearing out the wood; woodworking hand planes “Difficult” grain is where the grain of a length of wood changes direction repeatedly, making it difficult to plane without tear-out of the wood at one or more points.

Flattening

Flattening a piece of wood with a jointer plane
Flattening is the levelling, or straightening, of a piece of wood, which is best done with a long plane such as a fore or a jointer.

Flattening also refers to two procedures that can be carried out on a plane’s parts. These are the flattening – sometimes referred to as lapping – of the sole to ensure that it gives perfectly level results; and the flattening of the back of a plane’s iron, to ensure it sits perfectly flat on the bed of the plane.

Gouging

Gouging marks on the surface of wood after scrub planing; woodworking hand planes Cambered cutting edges have a gouging action which leaves a distinct pattern in the wood when it is reduced. The gouges can be planed away afterwards with a jack plane, or left for a decorative, olde worlde effect.

Groove

A groove is a channel cut along the grain of the wood; grooving plane; woodworking hand planes A groove is a channel cut into wood, usually when making a joint between two pieces. A groove is cut along the grain of the wood with a grooving or plough plane. (See also Dado, above).

High spots

The high spots of a piece of wood are planed off first The higher areas of the surface of a piece of wood that are the first to be planed off by a long plane such as a jointer. Shorter planes tend to follow any undulations in the wood, so are not as effective at removing high spots.

Honing

Honing a hand plane iron Honing is simply sharpening – in this case, the sharpening of a plane’s iron.

Jointing

Using a wooden jointer plane; woodworking planes Jointing is the cutting of a perfectly straight, perpendicular edge on a piece of wood, often prior to joining the edge to another perfectly straight one. Table tops are often made by joining several pieces in this way.

Lapping

Lapping the sole of a wooden hand plane Lapping the sole of a plane or a plane iron is the process of ensuring it is flat by repeatedly rubbing the sole or the back of the iron across a piece of abrasive paper or a grit stone. If using abrasive paper, it should be stuck to a perfectly flat surface such as plate glass or a granite tile.

Levelling

Levelling a piece of wood with a bench plane Levelling a piece of wood is the same as flattening it – taking off the high spots until the low spots are reached and the side or face of the piece is perfectly level.

Low-angle

A low-angle jointer plane Low-angle planes have their irons fixed at as little as 12 degrees to the sole of the plane. However, as the irons in these planes are bevel up, the angle of the bevel must be added to the angle of the iron to give the overall cutting angle, which is usually around 37 degrees.

Low spots

Low spots of a piece of wood, which are the last to be planed The opposite of high spots (see above).

Rebate

Rebate cut into the side of a piece of wood; rebate planes; woodworking planes A rebate is a recess, or step, cut into the side and edge of a piece of wood. A range of rebate planes is available for cutting these shapes.

Reducing

Reducing a piece of wood with a scrub plane; woodworking hand planes Planing away the waste from a piece of wood to make it the desired size.

Sizing

Sizing timber is the process of reducing pieces of wood to the desired size for fitting into a project; woodworking hand planes Similar to reducing, this is planing a piece of wood to the desired size.

Smoothing

Using a smoothing plane on a piece of wood Usually the final planing of a piece of wood, smoothing puts a silky-smooth finish on the surface which is preferable to a sandpapered finish. Sandpaper tends to scratch and blur the grain.

Tear-out

Tear-out can happen when you try to plane against the grain Tear-out is where wood is torn from the surface being planed, rather than being cleanly cut. Causes include planing against the grain, a blunt cutting edge and setting the mouth of the plane too wide.
Tear-out of the wood when planing end grain; woodworking hand planes Tear-out, sometimes referred to as break-out, can also happen when planing end grain, at the end of the cutting stroke when the blade passes over the far edge of the wood. See Planes and grains, Avoiding tear-out for for details of how to prevent this.

Thicknessing

Thicknessing a piece of wood with a scrub plane; woodworking hand plane Reducing the thickness of a piece of wood with a hand plane or an electrically-powered thicknesser.

Thrust

Thrust is the force with which a plane pushed across the workpiece on the cutting stroke; woodworking hand planes The force with which a plane is pushed across the workpiece on the cutting stroke.

Truing

Truing is squaring a piece of wood - making the sides and edges perpendicular; woodworking hand planes The planing of the edges, faces and ends of a piece of wood, making each face and edge perpendicular, or “true”, with its neighbours.