SMOOTHING TOOLS

Smoothing tools are used to smooth wood surfaces so they can be finished with paint or stain. They include planes, scrapers, files, and rasps. In this chapter, you will learn about different types of smoothing tools and their uses. You will also learn how to select the right tool for the job, use and read various types of tools, and provide the proper care of the smoothing tools to keep them in good working condition.

When you have completed this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Identify the different types of planes.
  2. Determine the proper uses of planes.
  3. Recognize the safety precautions that apply to planes.
  4. Identify the different types of scrapers.
  5. Determine the proper uses of scrapers.
  6. Recognize the safety precautions that apply to scrapers.
  7. Identify the different types of files.
  8. Determine the proper uses of files.
  9. Recognize the safety precautions that apply to files.

Contents

Planes

Scrapers

Files

Review Questions


PLANES

Planes are smoothing tools used to true edges or surfaces of wood. Planes are also used where a finished surface or close-fitting joint is required. Planes vary in size and shape, but each is designed for a specific purpose. There are several types, including jointer and fore planes, jack planes, smooth planes, block planes, and rabbet planes. The parts of a plane are shown belowl.

Types and Uses

Jack Plane


Parts of a plane

The jack plane is used for general smoothing of edges and sizing of wood. The name comes from the saying, “Jack of all trades,” since this plane performs the work of both smooth planes and jointer planes. It is usually about 15 inches long with a blade that has a moderately curved edge. When stock is prepared, the jack plane is used after the scrub plane and before the smooth plane.

Jointer Plane

The jointer plane is used to straighten the edges of boards in an operation known as jointing. It is also used to flatten the face of a board. The jointer plane is usually 20 to 24 inches long. A similar, but shorter, plane about 18 inches long is known as a fore plane.

Scrub Plane

The scrub plane is used to remove large amounts of wood from the surface of lumber in the first stages of preparing rough stock, or when the thickness of the board needs to be reduced significantly. Unlike most planes, it is used in diagonal strokes across the face of a board.

Smooth Plane

The smooth plane is the last plane used on a wood surface. With proper use, the finish from a smooth plane is much better than the finish achieved with sandpaper or scrapers. This smooth finish comes from planing the wood off in strips. The smooth plane is 9 to 10 inches long and is meant to be used with two hands.

Block Plane

The block plane is the smallest hand plane. The block plane’s plane iron is set at a much lower angle than that of other planes. It is used to plane across the grain at the ends of boards, otherwise known as blocking in. It is also used to shave thin pieces of wood from small surfaces in awkward areas. This plane is small enough to use with one hand, sometimes at an angle of as much as 45 degrees. A toe knob is provided when additional pressure is needed.

The block plane is a tool with many uses, including cleaning up components to make them fit within fine tolerances. Rounding square edges, otherwise known as chamfering, and removing glue lines are some other uses for this plane.

Rabbet Plane

The rabbet plane is used to make rabbet joints on the ends of boards. The blade on this plane protrudes by a very small amount from the sides of the plane so that the plane doesn’t bind on the side of the cut. This helps make the side of the rabbet joint perpendicular to the bottom. This plane is used for long grain cutting and is meant to remove large amounts of material quickly.

Using the Block Plane

Warning

Wear eye protection when working where flying particles may cause eye injury.

The following steps describe how to use a block plane properly:

  1. Secure the work with a vise or with clamps to prevent slippage.
  2. Ensure that the cutting blade is extremely sharp and set to produce a fine cut.
  3. Place the plane on the edge of the board with the plane pointing across the grain (Figure 1).
  4. Push along the length of the board with a steady, even stroke.


Figure 1 — Place the plane across the grain.


Figure 2 — Create a chamfer.

 

Note

To prevent the grain from splitting, plane from either end or plane a chamfer on the far end first.

  1. If necessary, create a chamfer to prevent the grain from splitting (Figure 2).
  2. Raise the plane from the work after each stroke and return to the starting point.
  3. Repeat the process until the task is complete.

Using the Bench Plane

Warning

Wear eye protection when working where flying particles may cause eye injury.

The following steps describe how to use a bench plane properly:

  1. Secure the work with a vise or with clamps to prevent slippage.
  2. Make sure the plane is sharp and properly adjusted before using.
  3. Place the plane on the board with the right hand on the handle and the left hand on the knob.
Note

Reverse the position of the hands if left-handed.

  1. Ensure the plane is placed on the work so that the wood grain points in the direction the plane will go.
  2. Push with a steady, even stroke along the length of the board (Figure 3).
  3. Raise the plane and return to the starting point after each stroke.
  4. Repeat the process until the task is complete.


Figure 3 — Using a bench plane.

Care of Planes

Use these guidelines when working with planes:

- To Table of Contents -


SCRAPERS

Scrapers are made in different shapes for various types of work. Some scrapers are used for truing metal, wood, and plastic surfaces which have been machined or filed. Other scrapers are made to remove paint, stencil markings, and other coatings from various surfaces.

Types and Uses

Carbon Scraper

A carbon scraper is used to clean carbon from cylinder heads, pistons, and other metal surfaces. It is flexible and has an overall length of approximately 9 inches. The carbon scraper consists of ten round spring steel blades, and their flexibility is controlled by a sliding ferrule.

Box Scraper

Box scrapers are usually used to scrape stencil markings from wood surfaces. They are also used as wood floor scrapers. The box scraper has a 2-inch blade and a 9-inch handle hinged at the blade. The bottom of the scraper and the edge of the cutter are convex so that corners do not scratch up the work. The blade can be adjusted by loosening the thumbscrew and extending or withdrawing the blade in its holder.

Flat Blade Scraper

Flat blade scrapers are used for removing high spots from flat surfaces only.

Bearing Scraper

Bearing scrapers are used to scrape Babbitt metal bearings. Bearing scrapers come with 11 /2-, 2-, and 4-inch cutting edges.

Triangular Blade Scraper

Triangular blade scrapers are used for removing high spots from flat or curved surfaces. They are available with either a 4- or 6-inch blade.

Using a Bearing Scraper


Figure 4 — Using a bearing scraper

The following steps describe how to use a bearing scraper properly (Figure 4):

  1. Place the bearing to be scraped on a bench or other suitable working surface.
  2. Use both hands on the bearing scraper. One hand should be at the end of the handle while the other hand steadies the tool.
  3. Use the hand at the end of the handle to twist the tool. Use very light pressure and remove a small amount of metal with the twisting stroke. If too much pressure is applied, the scraper will chatter and leave a rough uneven surface.
  4. Start at one top side of bearing cap. Work down, and then up to the top of the other side. Do not scrape lengthwise.
  5. Repeat procedure until the required amount of material has been removed to fit the bearing onto the shaft.

Care of Scrapers

Use these guidelines when working with scrapers:

Note

Carbon scraper blades are fairly dull to prevent scoring of a piston and/or cylinder wall.

 

- To Table of Contents -


FILES

Files are used for cutting, smoothing off, or removing small amounts of metal, wood, plastic, or other material. Files are made in various lengths, shapes, and cuts. Every file has five parts: the point, edge, face or cutting teeth, heel or shoulder, and tang. The tang is used to attach the handle on American pattern files. The tang is shaped into a handle and is usually knurled on Swiss pattern files.


Parts of a file

Types and Uses

American Pattern File

Files are graded according to the degree of fineness and whether they have single- or doublecut teeth. The differences among file types are apparent as shown in Figure 5. Single-cut files have rows of teeth cut parallel to each other. These teeth are set at an angle of about 65 degrees with the centerline. Single-cut files are used for sharpening tools, finish filing, and draw filing. They are also the best tools for smoothing the edges of sheet metal. Files with crisscrossed rows of teeth are double-cut files. The double cut forms teeth that are diamond-shaped and fast cutting. Double-cut files are used for quick removal of metal and for rough work.

Files are also graded according to the spacing and size of their teeth, or their coarseness and fineness. Some of these grades are pictured in Figure 5. In addition to the three grades shown, dead smooth files (with very fine teeth) and some rough files (with very coarse teeth) may be used. The fineness or coarseness of file teeth is also influenced by the length of the file. The length of a file is the distance from the tip to the heel, and does not include the tang (Figure 5). By comparing the actual size of the teeth of a 6- inch, single-cut smooth file with a 12-inch, single-cut smooth file; the 6-inch file has more teeth per inch than the 12-inch file.

Mill File

Mill files are tapered in both width and thickness. One edge has no teeth and is known as a safe edge. Mill files are used for smoothing lathe work, draw filing, and other fine, precision work. Mill files are always single-cut.

Pillar File

Pillar files are similar to hand files in general shape, but are much narrower. They are double-cut with one uncut edge. Pillar files are used to file in slots and keyways.

Round File

Round files will taper slightly toward the point. Bastard-cut files 6 inches and longer are double-cut. The second-cut files, 12 inches and longer, are double-cut. All others are single-cut. Round files are used for filing circular openings or concave surfaces.

Square File

Square files taper slightly toward the point on all four sides and are double-cut. They are used for filing rectangular slots and keyways.

Taper File

Taper files , or triangular files, are tapered toward the point on all three sides. They are used for filing saws having 60-degree angled teeth. Taper files come in regular, slim, extra slim, and double extra slim and usually are single-cut.

Three-Square File

Three-square files are tapered toward the point on all three sides and are double-cut. They are used for filing internal angles, and for cleaning out square corners.

Warding File

Warding files are tapered to a point for narrow space filing. They have doublecut faces and single-cut edges. Warding files are used for lock repair or for filing ward notches in keys.

Curved-Tooth File

Curved-tooth files , also known as mill-toothed files, are general used on flat or curved surfaces of aluminum and sheet steel. They are also used for smooth, rapid work on bronze, lead, Babbitt, zinc, and plastic. Flat, flexible, curved-tooth files do not have tangs and are made for easy mounting on a file holder. The file holder is adjustable for concave or convex surfaces. Flat, flexible, curved-tooth files come in fine-cut and standard-cut teeth.

Flat, rigid, curved-tooth files are self-cleaning and used for filing flat surfaces on cast iron, lead, Babbitt, aluminum, zinc, and plastic. They come in smooth-cut and standard-cut teeth.

Half-round, rigid, curved-tooth files are flat on one side and convex on the other. They are used for filing concave surfaces and bearings. They come with standard-cut teeth.

Swiss Pattern File

Swiss pattern files are made to more exact measurements than American pattern files. They are primarily finishing tools used on all sorts of delicate and intricate parts. Swiss pattern files come in a variety of styles, shapes, sizes, and double- and single- cuts to ensure precision smoothness.

These files are usually supplied in sets. The most common set consists of twelve assorted files in a set, which are marking (half-round), square, slitting, knife, joint (round edge), crossing (oval), barrette, flat, equaling, three-square (triangular), and round.

Swiss pattern files are made in seven cuts–numbers 00, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. They are most often used for fitting parts of delicate mechanisms and for tool and die work.

Using a File

Selecting the Proper File

Use these guidelines when selecting the proper file:

Method of Filing

The following steps describe how to use a file properly:

Cross Filing

In Figure 6A, a piece of mild steel being cross-filed is illustrated. This means that the file is being moved across the surface of the work in approximately a crosswise direction; alternating as shown in Figure 6B. For best results, the file should be used with slow, full-length, steady strokes with the operator’s feet spread apart to remain steady. The file cuts as it is pushed, so the return stroke should be eased up to avoid dulling the teeth. Files should also be kept clean.

Draw Filing

Draw filing produces a finer surface finish and usually a flatter surface than cross filing. Small parts, as shown in Figure 6C, are best held in a vise. The file should be held as shown in Figure 6C, with the arrow indicating the cutting stroke is away from the operator when the handle of the file is held in the right hand. If the handle is held in the left hand, the cutting stroke will be toward the operator.

Filing Round-Metal Stock Figure 6D, shows that as a file is passed over the surface of round work, its angle with the work is changed. The result is a rocking motion of the file as it passes over the work. This rocking motion permits all the teeth on the file to make contact and cut as they pass over the work's surface, thus keeping the file much cleaner and thereby doing better work.

Care of Files

Use these guidelines when working with files:

Replacing the Handle

  1. To remove a handle, hold the file with one hand. Pull the file from the handle while striking the ferrule end of the handle against the edge of a bench (Figure 7).
Caution

Never hammer a file into its handle.

  1. To install a new handle, insert tang end of the file into the handle socket exerting pressure with your hands.
  2. Tap the handle on a bench top until the file is seated (Figure 8).


Figure 7 — Remove the old handle.


Figure 8 — Tap the handle on a bench.

 

- To Table of Contents -


Review Questions

1. Planes are used to perform what action to wood?

A. Make decorative designs
B. Remove knots
C. Rip cut
D. True edges

2. What type of plane is used to straighten the edges of boards?

A. Block
B. Jointer
C. Scrub
D. Smooth

3. What type of plane is used to remove large amounts of wood from the surface of lumber?

A. Block
B. Jointer
C. Scrub
D. Smooth

4. The jack plane is used for what purpose?

A. Final finishing
B. General smoothing
C. Making a rabbet
D. Truing the edges

5. At what time frame is the smooth plane used?

A. After the rabbet is made
B. Before the jack plane is used
C. First plane used
D. Last plane used

6. What type of plane has the plane iron set at a lower angle than other planes?

A. Block
B. Jointer
C. Scrub
D. Smooth

7. Which of the following describes a use of the block plane?

A. Creating a smoother finish than using sandpaper or a scraper
B. Cleaning up components to make them fit within fine tolerances
C. Making a rabbet joint on the ends of boards
D. Removing large amounts of wood

8. What is left behind if surfaces are not properly smoothed?

A. Metal shavings
B. Sawdust
C. Smooth finish
D. Splinters

9. If a plane is damaged, what action, if anything, should be accomplished?

A. Polish the plane
B. Replace the plane immediately
C. Tighten the handles
D.  Nothing, planes are designed to function even if damaged

10. Prior to storing a plane, what action should be accomplished?

A. Apply a light coat of oil to the wood handles
B. Apply a thick coat of grease to all surfaces
C. Remove the handles
D. Withdraw the cutting edge into the mouth of the plane

11. What type of scraper is flexible and has an overall length of approximately 9 inches?

A. Bearing
B. Box
C. Carbon
D. Flat blade

12. What type of scraper is used to scrape stencil markings from wood surfaces?

A. Bearing
B. Box
C. Carbon
D. Flat blade

13. What size is the blade on a box scraper?

A. 2 centimeters
B. 9 centimeters
C. 2 inches
D. 9 inches

14. What type of scraper is used to remove high spots from flat surfaces?

A. Bearing
B. Box
C. Carbon
D. Flat blade

15. Bearing scrapers are available in which of the following sizes?

A. 4 centimeters
B. 9 centimeters
C. 4 inches
D. 9 inches

16. When using a bearing scraper, what result will occur if too much pressure is applied?

A. Breaks a bearing
B. Creates a rabbet
C. Leaves a rough surface
D. Leaves a smooth finish

17. When using a scraper, the work, scraper, and hands should be free of what substance?

A. Dust
B. Grease
C. Rubber
D. Rust

18. When the scraper is not in use, what should be placed on the blade?

A. Oil
B. Rag
C. Rust
D. Tar

19. For long-term storage, what location should scrapers be stored?

A. On the corner of the work bench
B. In a dry place
C. On a hanger
D. On a shop rack

20. Files are graded according to which of the following qualities?

A. Degree of fineness and single- or double-cut
B. Depth of cut and number of teeth
C. Length and depth of cut
D. Number of teeth and length

21. What type of file is tapered in width and thickness?

A. Curved-tooth
B. Mill
C. Round
D. Warding

22. The mill file is used for smoothing lathe work and what other type of work?

A. Draw filing
B. Filing circle openings
C. Filing internal angles
D. Filing slots and keyways

23. The pillar file is used for what type of work?

A. Draw filing
B. Filing circle openings
C. Filing internal angles
D. Filing slots and keyways

24. What type of file tapers slightly toward the point on all four sides and is double-cut?

A. Curved-tooth
B. Square
C. Taper
D. Warding

25. What type of file is used to file saws having 60-degree angled teeth?

A. Curved-tooth
B. Square
C. Taper
D. Warding

26. What type of file has a tapered point for narrow space filing?

A. Curved-tooth
B. Square
C. Taper
D. Warding

27. When filing brass or bronze, what is the first file that should be used?

A. Bastard-cut
B. Course double-cut
C. Second-cut
D. Smooth-cut

28. Concerning the care of files, which of the following statements is true?

A. A file is a suitable substitute for a pry bar
B. A new file should be broken in by using on steel, brass, or wood
C. If a file is designed to be used with a handle, it should not be used without a handle
D. Files should be oiled to prevent rust from forming

29. What result will occur if a file is used on narrow surfaces such as sheet metal?

A. Splinters will remain
B. The file will clog with fins or scales
C. The sharp points of the file teeth will break off
D. The work will be scratched

30. Applying what substance will prevent fast-cutting of files?

A. Chalk
B. Oil
C. Talcum powder
D. Vinegar

 

- To Table of Contents -


Answers to Exercises

 

1. D
2. B
3. C
4. B
5. D
6. A
7. B
8. D
9. B
10. D
11. C
12. B
13. C
14. D
15. C
16. C
17. B
18. A
19. B
20. A
21. B
22. A
23. D
24. B
25. C
26. D
27. A
28. C
29. C
30. B

 

- To Table of Contents -


Copyright © David L. Heiserman
All Rights Reserved