Preventing splintering when planing end grain - Router Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2009, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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Default Preventing splintering when planing end grain

I'm just finishing up my new folding workbench. I decided to add a trim piece along the front edge for decorative purposes and to stiffen up the top a bit. There are two brackets on the underside of the bench which attach to the folding mechanism. When I installed one of those brackets, it extended 1/32" or so past the front edge of the bench. I wanted a nice, even edge to glue to, so, not having a top bearing cutter, I decided to use a block plane to clean it up. Well, after about 3 passes with the block plane the whole side of the bracket sheared off. This happened 2 days ago, but I am still aggrivated over it. I think I'll probably spring for the cutter the next time I do this operation, but, just in case I have to use the block plane again, is there a proper way to perform this operation without tearing my part to pieces?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2009, 03:03 PM
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Reeeeely sharp blade and micro thin cuts. I've tried to "read" the grain on the end, too.
I know it would be difficult in your application but, chamfering the corners helps.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2009, 03:17 PM
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Like Gene said, a really sharp blade and a chamfer on the corner and I might add that a "low angle" block plane would work best if that is not what you are using.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2009, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your ideas. I was wondering if it might help to clamp the piece to be planed between a couple of backer boards?

Last edited by rstermer; 06-21-2009 at 05:40 PM.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2009, 06:26 PM
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Backer boards are also a good idea to fight chip out and splintering when possible. I say go for it but make them as short/narrow as possible to keep things in perspective and lessen more plane work.

Last edited by Bob N; 06-21-2009 at 06:37 PM.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2009, 06:36 PM
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When I took woodshop a hundred years ago, the instrutor told me to plane the end grain of a board from both ends!

It worked!
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2009, 09:16 PM
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All of the above suggestions and here is one more. Use a very sharp chisel instead of a plane. Take short, small paring cuts. I'm trying to visualize the boards as you described them so I think you would want to work from the unsupported edge (the side that blew out no doubt) IN toward the glue joint where the piece meets the rest of the bench.

A paring cut is a sweeping cut instead of a stabbing cut. You pinch the back of the chisel down with your thumb and swing the handle through an arc. It can be very slow going but also very controlled. Just don't go nuts and nip that bit of skin between your pivot thumb and index finger. Ouch!
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2009, 12:21 AM
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As you have figured out, a long fluted pattern bit would have been one way. Sometimes, though, there isn't enough space to handle even a palm router. Or, if the piece is assembled and you don't wish to disassemble the project because of assembly process (I don't want to do that again).
I've used a Dozuki saw to remedy those kind of situations. The small kerf and flexible blade can let me get into a very small area. Chisels, as were mentioned, can also work. I was fortunate to buy some very nice old English cabinet chisels a few years back. They hold a very sharp edge and can slice through just about anything.
I've seen some better small end grain planes offered by Veritas and Lie Nielsen: Block plane but have never had the dough to cough up for one of these planes that would see minimal use. I do have a small block plane for that ocassional use.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2009, 04:42 AM
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Hi RStermer,
I've done it myself, too much cut on endgrain even with the sharpest plane in the world will dig-in and cause misery, heartache and in my shop at least, "very blue air" from the adult expletifs, (good job my wife can't hear it over the noise of the machinery!)
I use a sharp chisel or carpentry knife and rule to pre-score my exit edge exactly on the marking line, just deeply enough to prevent endgrain tear out. A piece of scrap as a spelch block is a good idea too.
I use no more than 1/16" inch cut per pass, going down to 1/32" for the final three cuts.
Cutter speed is also crucial, I use a piece of scrap and make several passes at different speed settings using as slow a feed rate as I can without burning the workpiece.
Planning is also a useful tool, if you leave a square board over dimension across the width, you can joint along the grain to take care of any annoying little tear outs.

Good luck,


Last edited by HDS; 06-22-2009 at 04:46 AM.
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