The grain in my African mahogany boards runs in ribbons with grain changing directions all over the place. Using a No.4 smoother and a scraper is my usual plan of attack with other types of lumber, but I got a LOT of nasty tearout in this mahogany. So I looked into two methods I have been avoiding:
- Back bevels. I keep my sharpening system simple. All my plane blades have the same sharpening angle and this is fine for most of my work. But this mahogany has be beat so I thought I would put a back bevel on a No.3 I don’t use much as an experiment. The back bevel presents the blade to the work at a higher angle so the plane action is pushed towards the scraping end of the spectrum. It is harder to push the plane, but by the time I am using it the boards are flat and just need a little more work. I also tightened the mouth of the plane by moving the frog forward, and made an effort to sharpen the blade very frequently.
- Sanding. I don’t woodwork so I can sand. I don’t have dust caking everything in the garage and I want to keep it that way. I remember the day I discovered even a poorly sharpened plane did more in 5 minutes than a coarse sanding could do in an hour to prep a rough surface. But the back beveled plane still leaves a little tear out (still much better than it was before) and so the palm sander was allowed to spend some time outside of its box. I sand on my WorkMate out on the driveway to keep my garage clean – it is noisy and my neighbours are going to hate me. One advantage to sanding is that the very fine grits create a good starting surface for French polishing.