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Ebony won't plane


jowl
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So this morning I planed a blank for the nut entirely without problems with beautiful perfectly smooth faces. I then decided to plane a blank also for the saddle (with the same plane but a different piece of ebony) and just could not do it at all. Whichever direction I planed there seemed to be a bit which was against the grain. Eventually I resorted to sanding the surfaces smooth. What is the reason for this and is there a solution?

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21 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I once had the misfortune of attempting to plane a fingerboard made from what I can only describe as flamed ebony.  What a mess.

yes, I've had those. Mine were from an Indian supplier that people were raving about at the time.

Cheap, but ultimately a complete waste of money.

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A sharp blade at a high angle (55-70 degrees) will help. With some ebony i've had to resharpen my blade after a few min of use. I hate working with ebony, it is messy, gets everywhere and dulls your tools quickly. It isn't all that good for lungs either.  The only worse wood in my experience is African black wood which is like working with mild steel! 

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A Stanley low angle block plane with stock blade has treated me well for years.  The blade is ground to around 28 degrees and the secondary bevel another 5 degrees or so.  With straight grain ebony I usually can get about three or four cello fingerboards between sharpening, flamed one or two depending on how chippy the wood is.  Also I often only sharpen up to 1500 on my fingerboard plane, you're going to finish with scrapers and sandpaper anyway.

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For a small piece such as a saddle I would use a bowmaker's plane.  For larger pieces I use a toothed blade in a block plane, sharpened at 35 degrees.  It's one of these, but I don't know which (they used to make just one and now they seem to offer a whole set).  They work well on other hardwoods as well as ebony. 

http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=72096&cat=1,230,41182,43698

Ed

 

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23 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I once had the misfortune of attempting to plane a fingerboard made from what I can only describe as flamed ebony.  What a mess.

I did that too.  But I was even smart enough to finish it, AND make a tailpiece out of the same stuff.  

Yeah.

I have the best luck with a big thick scrapers.  I use a sharp plane blade, no burr.  And half round Iwasaki files.  

Ken

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5 hours ago, Ed Shillitoe said:

For a small piece such as a saddle I would use a bowmaker's plane.  For larger pieces I use a toothed blade in a block plane, sharpened at 35 degrees.  It's one of these, but I don't know which (they used to make just one and now they seem to offer a whole set).  They work well on other hardwoods as well as ebony. 

http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=72096&cat=1,230,41182,43698

Ed

 

Hi Ed,

Just curious, do you use the toothed irons in your bow work? Reason I ask is that I've started using the Hill method planing sticks: wire tensioner to straighten cambered stick and use of larger planes, longer strokes. Results have been way more even octagons than I ever managed with the little French bowmaker planes. But tear out is a problem and at some point I have to switch back to scraper planes, in particular the Lie-Nielsen 212 above. Is a bow facet too narrow for a fine toothed block or apron plane to be effective?

Ben

 

 

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21 minutes ago, bengreen said:

Hi Ed,

Just curious, do you use the toothed irons in your bow work? Reason I ask is that I've started using the Hill method planing sticks: wire tensioner to straighten cambered stick and use of larger planes, longer strokes. Results have been way more even octagons than I ever managed with the little French bowmaker planes. But tear out is a problem and at some point I have to switch back to scraper planes, in particular the Lie-Nielsen 212 above. Is a bow facet too narrow for a fine toothed block or apron plane to be effective?

Ben

 

 

Hi Ben,

I have a low angle plane that I have simply ground the cutting angle of the blade way back, and it will go over curly ebony  or maple without any tear out what so ever, I wish I had done it years ago,,, I heard about it here so I tried it.

It might work for you, I could send it to you for a while to see if it would work for your purposes, love to see your new bows.

Evan

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Hi Ben:

I've only had the toothed iron since December but I have made one bow with it.  It planes beech and ebony very well so I would expect it to work on pernambuco.  I think its the medium width tooth - it was the only one they made when I got it but when I checked the link today I found that they had added a couple of other widths as well as two more sizes.  Mine makes fairly good facets but I do have to follow up with the scraper plane. 

Will you be at Oberlin this year? 

Ed

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