How to Setup a Hand Plane to be A Smoothing Plane – Hand Tool Tutorial

How to Setup a Hand Plane to be A Smoothing Plane – Hand Tool Tutorial

Setting up and Tuning in a hand plane to be a smoothing plane can drive people nuts, but it does not have to if you understand a few basics and what they can do for your plane and the wood.

The smoothing plane is one Hand tool that most anyone can learn to setup. This is a quick How-to Tutorial to show the basics of tuning the sole, mouth size, chip breaker, and iron to take a chip out free surface from most any wood.

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  1. Jay Emporia on May 5, 2022 at 6:59 pm

    Thankyou james. I’ve been struggling to set up my plane…new plane owner/user here. You touched on the points where I had questions. Thankyou!

  2. aaron 25 on May 5, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    What angle do u sharpen your blades

  3. Thomas Zaccone on May 5, 2022 at 7:03 pm

    Beautiful clear concise explanation. Thank you!

  4. Ken Johnsen on May 5, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks. Very helpful information

  5. Sven Amundsen on May 5, 2022 at 7:05 pm

    So, is a smoothing plane used instead of higher grit sandpaper? I watched a guy on another channel how used a smoothing plane but never saw him pick up a piece of sandpaper and the finished surface was like glass…

  6. Gwyn Buckley on May 5, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    When I move the frog forward, I notice the blade is lifted up slightly. Should I file a shallower angle on the two front pads of the frog that connect with the plane body? This should rectify the gap problem.

  7. Jason Howard on May 5, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    I’ve never set up a plane before. Very informative. Thank you

  8. Omid Bahramzadegan on May 5, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    Hello sir. I have watched all of your videos regarding hand planes and achieved great results with edge planing. However, I still struggle with my Standas No. 4 plane when I want to shave the surface of the wood. It either doesn’t shave or takes too much wood and sometimes tears out. As mentioned before, I’ve watched all of your videos at least twice, but could figure out the root of this problem. Would be so kind as to give me some tips. Appreciate it in advance and thank you so much for your teachings.

  9. Calovr on May 5, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    9:58 you could say that’s a very knotty board….(dead silence)..

  10. mightilybix on May 5, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    Dear Wood by Wright, you have saved me from going completely insane. (I am but a sapling still when it comes to wood) My tears are no longer salty, they are sweet, for they are tears of joy that I can wipe off my face with long curly ribbons of soft shavings while my material comes alive with its shiny new butter smooth surface. Thank you kindly sir, I am now able imagine new projects instead of being trapped in blade sharpening hell.

  11. JJ_ Crank on May 5, 2022 at 7:12 pm

    THANK YOU! You’re my hero today!

    I love this video. It’s absolutely what I was hoping to find. My Dad gave me his old Stanley smoothing plane in the original box with the price tag still on it. It was well used. Unfortunately the blade had a huge gouge in it and the sole needed flattening and some light rust removal but I fixed all that today. Now I know what I need to do to set it up. The only things I hadn’t figured out on my own is moving the frog forward to reduce the mouth and adjusting the blade tensioning screw. I bet this will help me with the Craftsman plane my uncle lent me. His blade looks like he used it as a construction chisel 🙄

  12. Fluke Skywalker on May 5, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    Ooh there we go that’s a hair of the wisp ! Fishing for wisps. Sounds like a fishing show host wispMasters.

  13. Pollys13a on May 5, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you so much, very helpful 🙂

  14. Richard Hawkins on May 5, 2022 at 7:17 pm

    Thank you I’m a tad bit less clueless now. I have a post and beam building or two to make and a huge white oak that will be filled with ripples and curls. It’s going to be a beauty.

  15. Joe Lim on May 5, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    Finally I got what I was looking for…. setting a smoothing plane for hardwood…. being a beginner hobbyist I followed all the available you tube videos on sharpening my planes ( Stanley & Miller Falls )…. we have some very dried recycled Narra (Burmese rosewood ) in the Philippines which is a hardwood and I tested my ability…. it gives me the fits because the grains are in all direction…. and also watching your video now I realized my plane setting for smoothing was incorrect upon seeing what you did with that curly oak… Thank you…… when I get home this fall I still have plenty of those Narra and mahogany to practice on….

  16. David Ozab on May 5, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    Been struggling a bit with my planes, and I think it’s because I missed the ‘edge rounding’ step. Re-honing and giving it another go. Thanks!

  17. Lego Man 12345 12345 on May 5, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    I followed your instructions, but I still get bad results. The blade is razor sharp, the mouth is close and the chipbraker as well. But the problem is not with tearout but actualy with chatter

    I was planing beech (similair to hard maple ish I think)

    Any reccomendations?

  18. Pat Sullivan on May 5, 2022 at 7:18 pm


  19. Adam Smith on May 5, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    That’s a great video thanks 👍

  20. pedro mariscotti on May 5, 2022 at 7:20 pm

    Loved the final advice. Its good to know that you´ll get better just by using it. Thanks

  21. Justin Vellier on May 5, 2022 at 7:21 pm

    I just bought my first plane, I noticed that some people hold plane on an angle to the direction that they are planing and some hold it stright to the direction. Is the angle just a preference or is it spicific to the opperation that you are doing?

  22. Mr Rick on May 5, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    Thank you James

  23. Omar Torres on May 5, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    Love the video very explanatory so glad it wasn’t another one of those on and on and on with a lot of bulshit in between and very little information kind of videos and very well done thanks for the video

  24. Jonah Innuksuk on May 5, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    When I first got my 5 1/2 jack plane, I spent a good deal tuning up the chip breaker and sharpening up the blade (I didn’t even know I could sharpen anything that well). What I didn’t consider was the opening of the mouth and the slight curve of the blade. I spent another good deal flattening the non-beveled side of the blade then I was able to bring in the chip breaker even closer. Finally adjusted the frog to bring it in closer then I finally got a proper shaving or two but only at the start of the way and at the end but I was still crunching into the maple wood that’s been kicking my ass for weeks. My eureka moment popped up while I was having a glass of water… Apparently the steel horse I was laying the wood on had a huge curve (I had to have the blade sticking out like 2mm to get something). I spent days flattening the plane (it actually had a twisted bow), scratching my head, spent days thinking and thinking until I realized the jack plane wasn’t the problem. Once I realized that, I flattened the sole of the plane with 60 grit then 340 grit. Now it has a FLAT mirror shine surface… My next step is to flatten the bevel again then properly hone it. You and many other wood working youtubers provide invaluable tips I now have in my pocket for when I finally start the actual planing. Thanks so much.

  25. Dario Zorić on May 5, 2022 at 7:23 pm

    Great video, who would think that this is such a process!

  26. Jefferson Moreira on May 5, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    That off-level wood board in the back makes me cringe.

  27. Wolfgang Haak on May 5, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    Thank you – I’ve just started woodworking, and while I could work on pine just fine, a project I’m working in Ash is just tearing out. Looking forward to following your steps on the weekend and trying it out!

  28. David Chalk on May 5, 2022 at 7:26 pm

    Excellent thank you

  29. Keith Barrett on May 5, 2022 at 7:29 pm

    Nice video thank you.

  30. Loren Woodson on May 5, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Exellent video. Loved the production values, the information, and your obvious love of wood. Much appreciated the tips about planing particular kinds of grain-squirrely wood, like white oak. I work with red oak and this will be very helpful and will salve my frustrations, I’m sure. Good advice about getting to know one’s own plane.

  31. MrHarley60 on May 5, 2022 at 7:31 pm

    this is the first time i have ever set up a Plane i got mine at a resale store so it is old and not shart at all rusted so i took it apart,not thinking about putting back together again i should have taken a picture well thanks to this video lol it is back in working I appreciate the effort you took. Very professional,

  32. babthooka on May 5, 2022 at 7:31 pm

    @2:04 – you should consider stoping testing your plane blades on the top of your head.

  33. Barry Kery on May 5, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    Amazing. Well done video. Very informative. Thanks

  34. Ronnie Solomon on May 5, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    Very nice explanation. Helps a lot

  35. Gary on May 5, 2022 at 7:37 pm

    Good day James, I recently bought a new Bailey pattern no 4. I sharpened and set it up after watching multiple videos. It was doing fine for pine but shat itself on hardwood. I tried everything but failed. Then I came across your video. Thanks James, I just experienced my first hardwood ( Tasmanian Oak – Eucalyptus) curls.

  36. Alessandro Ferretti on May 5, 2022 at 7:37 pm

    Brilliant video. Thank you. Very good revision for me with some very good points.

  37. Michael Fling on May 5, 2022 at 7:38 pm

    Hey Jim! Good video, good advice. Thought I’d take a moment and give you a tip on setting the mouth on a typical Stanley style plane. Years ago I was going through a similar process with a Stanley #4 that was to become my ultimate smoother (I had set up several others, but this one was going to be THE smoother to go to). Before you sharpen the blade, loosen up the frog, set the blade in place pushed through the mouth. Between the blade and mouth opening (which had been carefully filed perfectly flat and parallel to the blade) insert some form of measured shim (I used a folded sheet of paper that measured .007 in thickness) , snug the blade and shim against the mouth with your hand and then bring the frog in and snug it up to the blade. Now bolt the frog down. The result is a known mouth opening and the frog is snug against the blade hence a minor discrepancy in the mouths squarenes with the sole is a moot point, the mouth opening is uniform all across the sole. This entirely eliminates the drudgery of moving the frog, putting everything together, checking the mouth opening, and repeating until frustration sets in. Plus, you know exactly what the opening is……make it whatever you like, see how it planes and adjust to your taste. In antique furniture repair I have, on several occasions upon replacing broken or chewed out wood, when planing to final thickness, actually planed a thousandth of an inch of finish off the adjoining surface…….never broke through the original finish! Keep up the videos, always good to see what other folks are doing!

  38. mystang 89 on May 5, 2022 at 7:41 pm

    Thank you for those close ups

  39. frenstcht on May 5, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    So, if I’m going to do a lot of plane-iron sharpening, I’m going to have to get some gullible, hairy friends.

  40. J C on May 5, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    This was so helpful. Thanks very much.

  41. Stephen Cannon on May 5, 2022 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing, I have some Hinoki boards that I tore up so bad with my no.4 that I probably have to just buy new ones. Too bad, but at least I know how to approach this wood.

  42. Adam Ibrahim on May 5, 2022 at 7:45 pm

    You are a legend ✊🏼I was on the verge of buying a electric one.

  43. Heartland Makes & Outdoors on May 5, 2022 at 7:47 pm

    i can thank you enough for teaching us this stuff on planes, i wish my wood shop teacher would have spent a semester teaching us this over sand paper, man the money i would be ahead 30 years later. thanks again for sharing. im trying to figure out a good option for a smoothing plane, jack, i think it what you call rough finish for plowing wood, and a jointer plane or whatever i need to bring my home made work bench closer to flat.. thanks again, i will keep watching sir, i appreciate you.

  44. Matt Moody on May 5, 2022 at 7:49 pm

    People! Don’t test the sharpness of your blades by shaving hair off your body!

  45. Frank Stalteri on May 5, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    Great video, what is the difference between a plane set up as a smoother vs the other plane that you used? Thanks

  46. William C Allen on May 5, 2022 at 7:52 pm

    Thanks kindly for such a clear and easy to follow setup and explanation of the difference between different setups on the same plane. Very good,, I will be recommending it to my friends.

  47. Craig J. Brain on May 5, 2022 at 7:53 pm

    Thank you. This is a really helpful and easy to understand video on setting up a plane for smoothing. Really well done.

  48. motorcyclelad on May 5, 2022 at 7:54 pm

    Very helpful indeed!!!

  49. John Wealthy on May 5, 2022 at 7:55 pm

    Fantastic video. Thank you for the instruction. I’m actually quite excited as I am awaiting delivery of a proper plane tomorrow.. A No5 jack. Although this video shows how to set up for smoothing, I primarily bought the No5 for trimming doors. So how would I set the No5 up for taking say up to 1/8" off the sides of the door?

  50. Bob Levey on May 5, 2022 at 7:57 pm

    Very good explanation!!! Thanks