How to use a scrub plane

 Shop for Woodworking Hand Planes 
 Metal and wooden scrub planes 

Metal and wooden scrub planes are similar in use, although the wooden plane may be a little lighter.

 Scrub plane iron projects from mouth more than other planes 

The blade of the scrub plane is usually set a little more "aggressively" than that of other planes - that is, it projects further through the mouth.

 The scrub plane makes deep and narrow cuts 

Deep and narrow is the rule for the scrub plane. The blade is narrow and it cuts deeply into the wood for quickly reducing the width or thickness of the workpiece.

   Wonkee Donkee on scrub planing faces and edges 

Planing the face of a piece of wood (reducing its thickness)

 Mark the depth of the scrub plane cut with a pencil 

Step 1 – Mark workpiece

With a pencil and straight edge, mark the depth you wish to plane down to on the edge of the workpiece and ensure it is properly held on the workbench between stops, or with some other securing device.

 Ensure scrub plane is set up correctly 

Step 2 – Check set-up of plane

Ensure the scrub plane is properly set up (seeHow to set up a metal scrub planeor How to set up a wooden scrub plane).

 Place to toe of the scrub plane on the end of the workpiece 

Step 3 – Position plane

Place the toe of the plane flat on one of the corners of the workpiece and exert some downwards pressure on the front of the plane by pressing down on the front handle or knob.


If it’s a wooden plane and there isn't a front handle, press down on the front of the stock.

 Use the scrub plane at an angle of 30 to 40 degrees across the face  

Step 4 – Angle of planing

Push the plane across the face of the workpiece at an angle of between 30 degrees and 45 degrees to the grain of the wood.


Transfer the downwards pressure to the rear handle, or rear of the stock, as you approach the end of the stroke. This avoids the iron cutting too deeply at the end.

 Lift scrub plane and return to starting point 

Step 5 – Lift and return

Lift the plane slightly after the cutting edge passes over the far edge of the workpiece and return it to a point slightly less than the plane’s width to the left or right of the first stroke. You should see that the first stroke has made a slightly hollowed out gouge diagonally across the workpiece.

 Reducing thickness of wood with a scrub plane 

Step 6 – Second stroke

Make your next cutting stroke alongside the first one, slightly overlapping it, and continue right across the workpiece.


Reducing thickness of wood with a scrub plane


Step 7 - Work from opposite end

When all of the side being planed has been covered with gouges in one direction, repeat steps 3 to 6, but this time starting from the opposite end of the workpiece.

 Scrub-planing a piece of wood 

Step 8 – Check pencil mark

Keep checking how close you are getting to your pencil mark, and stop just before you reach it.


When the workpiece has been reduced close to the required thickness, a jack plane can be used along the grain to make the final reduction and smooth out the gouges to a flat finish

 Latticework effect left by a scrub plane 

Alternatively, if the criss-crossing, latticework effect left by the scrub plane is a desirable feature of the end product, then the scrub plane can be used to complete the reduction, with the effect left unrefined.


Dealing with tear-out 

 Break-out caused by a scrub plane 

Tear-out of the far edge of the workpiece is often a problem when scrub-planing at 30 to 45 degrees across the face. 

   Wonkee Donkee on using a bevel to avoid tear-out when scrub planing 
 Plane a bevelled edge of wood to avoid break-out when planing 

You can avoid tear-out by first planing a bevel on the top edge of the far side of the workpiece. The bevel needs to go down to the pencil line.


Now when you plane across the face, the bevelled edge will prevent the wood from breaking out.


Planing the edge of a workpiece (reducing its width)

 Mark the depth of the reduction with a pencil when using a scrub plane 

Step 1 – Mark with pencil line

Make a pencil line on the side of the workpiece indicating the depth to which the piece is to be planed.

 Mouth and cutting edge of scrub plane iron  

Step 2 – Check set-up of plane

Ensure the scrub plane is properly set up for the job, with the blade projecting sufficiently from the mouth, and the mouth at a wide setting (see How to set up a metal scrub plane or How to set up a wooden scrub plane).

 Fasten the wood to be scrub planed into the workbench vice 

Step 3 – Position workpiece

Fasten the workpiece in the workbench vice. 

 Directiopn of grain - avoiding trear-out when planing 

Step 4 – Check grain

If the grain slopes upwards at all towards the edge to be planed, ensure it is sloping away from the direction of planing, not towards it, to avoid tear-out. Turn the workpiece around if necessary. Any split will then move upwards into the chip being planed off, with no damage to the workpiece.

 Positon the scrub plane on the edge of the workpiece 

Step 5 – Position plane

Position the toe of the plane at the end of the edge to be planed.

 Planing along the grain of an edge with a scrub plane 

Step 6 – Plane along grain

With downward pressure on the front of the plane, move the plane forwards with the grain, along the full length of the edge.

 Lifting scrub plane at end of forward stroke 

Step 7 – Lift and return

Transfer the downward pressure to the rear of the plane as you near the far edge.


With the blade having gone beyond the far edge, lift the plane slightly and return it to the starting point.

 Planing the edge of a piece of wood with a scrub plane 

Step 8 – Repeat

Repeat steps 5 to 7 until you reach a point very slightly above the pencil line, with the edge being planed as level as possible along its length.


Other planes – jack, fore, jointer and smoothing – may now be used to further level and smooth the wood.

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