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(Preface: I have done a search for this topic but didn’t find quite what I was looking for)

 

I’m studying the Derber book and I’m on the chapter regarding the center joint. He advocates for a rubbed spring joint for the center joint (no clamping) that is created by using a wooden jointer plane clamped upside down on the work surface upon which the billet (is that the right word?) is dragged across. 
 

The Johnson/Courtnall book offers a different method where the wood is clamped and the edge planed by dragging the plane across the wood. This appears to be the most common method of planing boards used by furniture or cabinet makers I’ve seen in YouTube videos. Most of the ones I’ve seen on those videos use a jack plane instead of a jointer plane. 
 

My question is, how are you guys planing your joints? Are there other methods than the two I’ve mentioned?
 

I’d rather not make a wooden jointer plane from scratch if I can avoid it. Am I setting myself up for failure if I follow the Johnson/Courtnall method using a jack plane instead?

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1 hour ago, David Rosales said:

My question is, how are you guys planing your joints? Are there other methods than the two I’ve mentioned?

There are plenty of other methods.  For my very first attempt, before I got tools, I used sandpaper glued to a long level.  I know someone who still does it that way.  

I bought a long jointer plane at a swap meet... but it was so warped and twisted that it was totally useless.  Then I got a good (Lie-Nielsen) low-angle jack plane.  One issue for making joints is how to get it perpendicular to the face of the wedge, which I found easiest to accomplish with the plane in a vise, with an auxiliary perpendicular board.  Still, you need to be careful to have a super-sharp blade, thin cuts, and even pressure and speed.

I found it easier to use a power jointer, and then check with chalk on a surface plate and adjust as necessary with a flat scraper.  Then I made a fixture for my CNC to act as a jointer, using a carbide spiral bit.  I really like the last one, as it is the quickest and most accurate of anything I've tried, once it is set up on the machine.  But that probably isn't going to be applicable to many makers.

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Supposedly all manufacturers of half finished plates do it with machine planes.

Another method is doing it on a shooting board.

Regardless the method, your plane must be meticously calibrated to the job, otherwise it will be the most frustrating things you will do. 
 

with a well adjusted joiners plane, a razor sharp blade, the goal is to make a joint of a violin back or top in 10 minutes. 
 

First do it with scrap wood, anything will do as long as there are no knots or the grain running in weird directions.

It takes time to learn the ‘rhythm’ to do it precise and fast. Some violin making students spent 3 days on their first joint. 
 

good luck!

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This subject always arouses all sorts of differing opinions. But getting two long and narrow edges to join perfectly requires a good technique.

Using a large jointer plane with a shooting board is okay, but balancing one on violin wedges is not practical. A number 4 or 5, or even a small block plane will do the job. Of course a good plane with a flat sole and sharp blade is a must. And carefully adjusting the projection of the blade is also very important.

And, most importantly, a straight edge is a very big help. If you plane one wedge flat and straight, checking with the straight edge, you only have to do the same with the other. Planes do not automatically cut dead flat surfaces. If you have high or low areas, a small block plane set very fine, followed by one stroke of a larger plane can be the the best way to go.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Bill Yacey said:

This is exactly how I do it, although I use a low angle jack plane.

I don't do it this way, since it requires flattening one side of each plate prior to joining. I prefer to flatten after the plates are joined. Saves a bunch of time, flattening in one fell swoop.

It was many years ago that a highly respected colleague of mine highly recommended getting a Lie Nielsen joining plane. I didn't jump on the recommendation right away, but after I finally did, I immediately understood what he was talking about.

Yes, these planes are really pricey, and probably won't be considered a viable option for anyone who considers sanded joints to be adequate.

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Just to testify the diversity of possible methods, I use a Stanley 9 1/2 block plane (flattened and tuned) holding the individual pieces in a vice. For me it is the best method and that allows for more control, but those who use other methods will of course disagree;). In the end, I think one method is as good as another, if it is well developed and mastered, the factors that play the fundamental role are good planing technique and a well-tuned plane with a perfectly sharp blade. Another important factor when holding the wood piece in a vise is to make sure that by tightening the vise it does not get twisted. This is valid even if you hold the plane with the vice, because even the planes could deform.

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I’m getting the impression that you can get a serviceable joint with a jack plane by using a shooting board, clamping the plane upside down, or using it on clamped wood, but that a proper jointer plane will produce a higher quality joint. Correct me if I’m wrong. 
 

The question I still have is whether I should make or buy a wooden plane or just pay the extra $100 for an iron plane. The veritas low angle jointer is currently selling for $310 USD. The main benefits of the wooden plane, according to Mr. Derber, are that you can flatten the sole more easily than a metal plane, that the sole can be replaced if needed, and that you can get a much longer plane in wood than metal (30 inches vs. 23”). 
 

Is that really much of an advantage? Are the metal jointer planes really that difficult to set up or prepare for this job?
 

I’m inclined to go for the metal plane at this point unless there’s a huge disadvantage. I’m not really interested in toolmaking (yes, I understand that a violin can be thought of as a type of tool) and the price difference between a wooden  and metal plane isn’t astronomical. 

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FWIW: I used a № 5 Lie-Nielsen. I clamp the wood in the vise and go for it. It's how I was taught. I have had no reason to seek alternatives even when dealing with squirrelly wood. I think your sharpening and tool skills are going to matter more than any difference between the options you are considering at this point.

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40 minutes ago, David Rosales said:

The question I still have is whether I should make or buy a wooden plane or just pay the extra $100 for an iron plane. The veritas low angle jointer is currently selling for $310 USD. The main benefits of the wooden plane, according to Mr. Derber, are that you can flatten the sole more easily than a metal plane, that the sole can be replaced if needed, and that you can get a much longer plane in wood than metal (30 inches vs. 23”). 

I prefer to use an iron or steel plane, seasoned and stress-relieved to the point that it will probably never need to be re-flattend in my lifetime, to using a wooden plane.

I do use a wooden "hogging" plane on cellos, but the wood on the sole wears so fast that I wouldn't consider it useful for precise cuts, like a center joint, without constant maintenance.

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if you're buying a premium new plane (e.g., Lie-Nielsen, Veritas) there's not much set up to do other than putting a proper edge on your iron for the task. Deciding between a no. 5 or no. 6 plane (both are fine for for violin plates) you can ask yourself which plane gives you the most uses. Are you going to make other things such as furniture, a workbench etc.? how will this plane fit into your future tool line up? Because you know you'll end up buying more. ;) Just some thoughts to consider.

Cheers,

Jim

 

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A perfect metal plane is probably best.

But, very few arrive or stay perfect.  

I use wooden planes.  1) I simply enjoy the feel of using them more.    2) It is to me much easier to flatten and modify wooden planes.   3) I can buy great old wood planes with wonderful blacksmithed blades at a much lower cost than today's best metal planes.  

 

But. I've spending is easier for you than the labor of correcting and tuning a wood plane, then a great modern plane is the quick and trouble free way to go.

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27 minutes ago, David Beard said:

But. (If) spending is easier for you than the labor of correcting and tuning a wood plane, then a great modern plane is the quick and trouble free way to go.

Since I am a full-time pro maker, I've got to look at the cost/reward ratio of using various types of planes. While it might be fun to periodically re-tune and re-flatten wooden planes, that falls into the realm of self-indulgence or entertainment, to me, from my point of view.

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I've tried doing this job using a shooting board and the plane in a vice technique and the results when, testing against a strong light, always reveal gaps. There are invariably high spots to deal with, sometimes quite large. The trouble is you can't identify which side is causing the problem.

Using a straight edge will show even the smallest deviation from flat with the back light technique and it can be dealt with using a small plane and finishing with a larger one. It takes only minutes to get a perfect result.

 

DSC_0004.jpg

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31 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Does anybody make planes out of granite surface plates?

Oddly, "Steel City Tool Works" used granite feed tables on some of their power jointers.  For a hand plane, it would seem much more difficult to get the machining done to incorporate the blade, and then the danger of dropping it, so I haven't found anything on the net about one.

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5 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I don't do it this way, since it requires flattening one side of each plate prior to joining. I prefer to flatten after the plates are joined. Saves a bunch of time, flattening in one fell swoop.

It was many years ago that a highly respected colleague of mine highly recommended getting a Lie Nielsen joining plane. I didn't jump on the recommendation right away, but after I finally did, I immediately understood what he was talking about.

Yes, these planes are really pricey, and probably won't be considered a viable option for anyone who considers sanded joints to be adequate.

Thank you for your input. This is a bit off topic, but how do you flatten two joined plates after joining. Do you simply use a smaller leveling plane and a good straight edge? Thank you.

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1 hour ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Do any weaklings use shooting boards made out of grant surface plates?

I use a flat slab of granite with pumice grit to level corner and end blocks on the mould as well as to accurately reduce ribs down to the blocks. I also use it with silicon carbide to resurface water stones.

As far as planing plate edge joints goes I've seen how many aspiring luthiers struggle with basic woodwork techniques. But, given decent tools, it should not be a problem.

Wooden planes can be tricky to set up. I think the best option would be to find a Japanese one to do the job.

 

 

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I'll pile on:  Long ago I picked up an antique wooden jointer that was missing a front handle, which I replaced.  The sole was and is remarkably flat.  I put a plate in a long vice with a small stick of wood at each end which has the dual purpose of countering the tendency of the vice to flatten any warp in the plate, and to tilt a spruce plate so the grain lines are the way I want them.  I can usually get pretty good joints - the only recurrent issue is that the very end of the plate where the cut starts and be a little off but that's usually cut off or I may do some additional flattening with sandpaper on a marble slab.

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49 minutes ago, Dennis J said:

I use a flat slab of granite with pumice grit to level corner and end blocks on the mould as well as to accurately reduce ribs down to the blocks. I also use it with silicon carbide to resurface water stones.

Then how do you resurface the granite slab after the abrasive wears it out of flat?

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