top of page

Jack | Joint | Smooth: Plane To The Gauge Line

Updated: Jun 6

In the last installment of The Hand Tool Practice, I ended the session by ripping my two blanks apart.

I still had trouble controlling the cut. Even with a freshly sharpened and, as it turns out, properly set saw, I ended up cutting through my layout lines istead of between them.

I'll get into more detail on the possible reasons (other than "I need more practice") later. For now, lets get on with the project.

Adjusting my layout

One of the things I picked up when I started using hand tools was the mindset of working with what the project gives you. Start with a plan. But be willing to adjust the next step based on the outcome of the previous one.

In this case, I planned to take the stock I had on hand and use whole number ratios to determine my dimensions. After trying out a few options, I decided to make the height of each part three times the width of it's base.

At the start, the limiting dimension was the height. So I divided by three to get the width for the base.

Now the parts are roughed out and I’ve made a mistake in my sawing. So I’m going to have to adjust the plan and work in the other direction to find some new dimensions.

First, I used a marking gauge to cut a line equal to the width of the material that was left after I sawed through my original layout. Then I set my dividers to the same dimension.

To find the new height I took three steps up the wide reference face. With that done, I could reset my gauge and cut a new height line along both parts.

Start with the narrow edges: Plane to the gauge line

Since I had to adjust my layout, I had about 1/8" of an inch to remove from the narrow edge at the top.

You'll want to complete this process in two steps. Get close with the rough-cutting, cambered iron of the jack plane. Once you've got only a sliver of material left at your gauge line, switch to your jointer.

In this case, I'm using a low angle jack with just the slightest bit of camber.

Using a jack plane to hog material off the wide faces

This is where the work of grinding the jack plane iron into a heavy camber pays off. With the corners of the blade pulled back into the body of the plane, you can take deep cuts with the center of the iron and remove a lot of material quickly.

You can learn more about how I set up my jack plane in this blog post:

Adjusting my sticking board

I chose the wrong materials when I threw together this sticking board. The base is bowed and when I put the plane down on one end, the far end pops up and the part slips out.

So I pulled the stop off the end and ground the head of a small screw into a point. The sharp corner acts as a small single-tooth planing stop.

Truing the wide faces with a low angle jack plane

The cambered jack is great for removing material quickly, but it leaves an uneven surface. as soon as you get close you your gauge line, you'll want to level everything off with a different plane.

For a part this size, you could go straight to a smoother. This part was still a little uneven, so I chose my low angle jack.

Smoothing the wide faces

If your stock is well behaved and your plane is sharp, you might end up with a smooth enough surface to finish with the jointer. If you have some surface tear-out like I did, plane with your jointer until the slivers from the gauge line are just about to let go. Then switch to your smoother and plane with even strokes until the surface shines.

Truing the narrow edges

For this project (have you figured out what it is?), there is only one important dimension. The two sticks can be different heights, but top and bottom of each stick MUST be parallel.

It turns out, the easiest way to accomplish this is to plane the sticks to the same height, then reverse one stick to see if the opposite ends are flush. Once they pass that test, you're ready to move on to the next step.


Any Questions?

You might want to take a look at OverTime. It's a deeper exploration of the techniques demonstrated in The Hand Tool Practice video series.

If you still have questions, send them my way.

Appearing in this video:

Classic Stanley Hand Tools T-Shirt - Heather True Royal - L

Time Timer Home MOD - 60 Minute*

Hamilton Tools 6” Walnut Marking Gauge

My Favorite Fine Layout Pen*

Starrett 3” Dividers*

Classic Leg Vise from Benchcrafted

No. 62 Low Angle Jack from Lie-Nielsen

BESSEY F-Clamp- 5.5 in x 12 in - TG5.512+2K*

Items noted with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. You'll pay the same price and support my work when I receive a small commission from the retailer.

31 views0 comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page