August 8, 2015 at 11:22 pm #2027052
gbeglauParticipantAugust 8, 2015 at 11:22 pmPost count: 8
So, is using sandpaper and a smoothing plane one in the same? For example, I recently bought a vintage workbench and the top is very rough. I expect that maybe it doesn’t matter that it’s rough since it’s a workbench but I’d like to freshen it up a bit. Should I use sandpaper or a block plane to clean it up?
Seth RuffinParticipantAugust 12, 2015 at 11:23 amPost count: 62
Pros and Cons
So to my understanding a well tuned finish plane will blow a sandpaper finish out of the water. Personally I’m not sure I would touch up your workbench top but I also prefer a rougher top, so I hope to get a toothing plane to rough the surface of my workbench I’m building.
Personally, I think I would use a joiner plane like Stanley #8 or wooden one if you have one. That way you clean the top but you make sure it is very level and square. Then if you wanted to add roughness after cleaning you can use a toothing plane, plane perpendicular to the grain, or use Paul Seller’s toothing plane (a section of saw blade in a board) to add some grip. All of that is just personal preference on what you want the top to be like. I like mine to have grip.
I think the smallest plane I would use would be a finish plane like a Stanley #4. I’m simply thinking of time and effort here as well as a bit of keeping the top square. I would think it would take a long time to clean up a workbench top with just a block plane. In any rate I would use a bench plane of some kind. The long work of moving a plane against that much surface will definitely ware out your arm just using a block plane.
As far as sandpaper, if you have like a belt sander with a medium grit I’m sure it could also knock off a layer pretty quick. You will have the issue of making sure to remain square as you sand. If you want a rough surface on the top you can just use a higher grit. Personally, I don’t like all the dust or vibration on my arms. I feel like a plane takes less time to but that may just be because I enjoy the use of a plane and don’t enjoy the use of a sander.
All in all there are a few good options available.
Hope my opinion helps.
gbeglauParticipantSeptember 8, 2015 at 12:21 amPost count: 8
Thank you both Seth and Derek for your suggestions. I am having a difficult time with the planes I have now. I’ve just tried them on waste pine and find them challenging. I am looking forward to getting this new method all figured out soon. Probably need to be tuned, but I have a 15 month old so I am building my toolbox slowly and have limited time to work. I welcome any and all conversation in regard to hand tools.
Jonas JensenParticipantSeptember 8, 2015 at 6:20 amPost count: 17
Go for flat
Like Seth and suggests, I would also go for flat.
My first workbench was glued up beech, and it was glued together without consideration to the grain orientation. I tried to plane it once, and it looked worse after than before.
I would say that the trick is to make sure your plane is set to take a fine shaving, and I would start out planing diagonally.
In old benches there are also the danger of old tacks and nails that are hidden, and they will cause a nick in your plane iron.
If you have the possibilty to remove the top, you could check some local shop if they have a wide belt sander that it could be fed through. That might not be an “all hand tool” approach, but if it gets the job done and gives you a flat top – well then I think it is worth a try.
Good luck with the project
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