Smoothing With Hand Tools

It may seem like a contradiction, but I think working with hand tools is much easier than working with power tools. As mentioned earlier, it's not muscle power that makes things difficult. It's control. I feel I have better control with hand tools.

A table top can be smoothed to near perfection with one plane: a jack plane. The one I use is a 11'corragated bottom Record jack plane. It costs about $Go. When the plane iron is sharp and it's set just right, there's no better feeling in the world (of woodworking).

You can plane a table top in less time than it takes with a belt sander. And. you won't have clouds of sawdust all over the shop (and house).

After planing the top with the jack plane, I sometimes go over it with a smooth plane (9" or 10" long), but I usually find this unnecessary if the jack plane (and the jack plane operator) is working properly.

The final step is smoothing the surface with a hand scraper blade (see Woodsmith No. 14). This little piece of steel will work wonders on the table top. leaving the grain clean and clear . . . ready for the finish.

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