I've started to enjoy using manual tools ("unplugged woodworking") and I've been getting manual tools (marking gauges, smoothing plane, saws, block plane, chisels, etc.).

I have piece of wood 20cm long x 1.5cm wide x 0.5cm thick (8" x 9/16" x 3/16") which has one side straight and one side wavy. I need to remove approximately 2mm (a little more than 1/16") off the wavy side. I've traced a line using a marking gauge referencing the straight side on both faces.

Now I'm stumped on what would be the best way to do this manually. If I try to use the saw, the amount to be removed is approximately the kerf of the saw and it would wander and refuse to do a decent job.

The block/smoothing plane would take "forever" (I think?)

Should I get a scrub plane?

Maybe there's some other efficient method that I don't know about?

How would you do this?

  • 1
    "Should I get a scrub plane?" Nobody can answer that for you, maybe you should. I personally feel that every woodworker should have one, even if only for occasional use, but I'm lucky to live somewhere with a lot of secondhand tools which I understand is not the case where you are, correct? But note that even some hand-tool junkies don't own one (or any of the other planes that can be set up to do similar work). A scrub plane or roughing plane is most of use to someone who commonly handles rough-sawn wood, and reclaimed wood that you need to remove a painted or very dirty surface from.
    – Graphus
    Apr 22, 2021 at 23:47
  • @Graphus: Thank you for your valuable input! (sounds like corporate bs but it's not!) I'm located in Romania (East Europe) but I recently bought a Veritas round marking gauge from Canada. My recent Makita cordless mitre saw was bought from US (for a 65% discount) and so on. Geography is not really a problem. My 'problem' is learning how to do this best. I can put my smoothing Stanley-Bailey #4 on an aggressive depth and plane away. But I need to learn. This is why I ask. Apr 23, 2021 at 0:41
  • Sorry my comment above about secondhand tools was a bit more cryptic than intended. I originally included a reference to scrub planes in my Answer until I re-read the Question and had to re-write. Most people these days do a conversion from a smoother, and it's usual to start with an old and preferably cheap plane. You can of course buy scrub planes new, but taking the L-N as an example that's a very steep price to pay for something that a standard wooden smoothing plane or Bailey-pattern no. 4 can be converted to do!
    – Graphus
    Apr 24, 2021 at 0:56

1 Answer 1


You're correct, sawing off this little material isn't possible by hand under normal circumstances. You could possibly do it working very carefully using a saw with a very thin plate (e.g. a Japanese saw) but it would still be challenging to saw off a strip this thin in a single unbroken piece. And once you get a breakage it's very difficult to restart a cut.

The correct tool for the job is a plane. Your smoothing plane isn't the ideal one for this, but it can comfortably do the job especially on a board as small and thin as this one.

TBH this board is so small that you could probably adjust for a heavier cut than normal and just set to work! But here's some general advice on setting up a plane for removing more material than normal that may be useful in future situations:

  • Make sure your iron is extremely sharp; might as well freshly hone it before you begin. There's no such thing as too sharp with woodworking tools :-)
  • Back the cap iron away from the edge 3mm or more IF your plane allows; not all do1.
  • Adjust for as heavy a cut as you can comfortably take in whatever species this is2.
  • If by chance you have the frog set forward of the default position (in line with the rear of the mouth) adjust it until it is.
  • When you are close to your gauge lines set your plane back up the way you had it before and proceed more slowly until you're done.

Since a smoother isn't the ideal plane for this which one is? If we imagine a woodworker with a really comprehensive collection of hand planes a scrub or roughing plane is probably not what they'd reach for to remove ~2mm from the edge of a board (even one much thicker than this). Instead I think it's much more likely they'd use a jack or fore plane3 set up the traditional way — with cambered irons fitted. Note that this refers to the profile of the edge, not the bevel shape (bevels can also be cambered, as taught by Paul Sellers for example).

You might find some information in these previous Answers useful:
Different ways to set up a Number 4 bench plane
hand plane controls (bevel down)

1 The position of the slot in the cap iron and the adjustment mechanism in the plane sometimes heavily restrict how far back the cap iron can be set while still allowing the cutting edge to not to project too far.

2 You can take really heavy, 'woody', shavings working along the grain even in some hard hardwoods, but not in particularly hard ones such as some tropical species.

3 If not using wooden planes, this would be a 5 and a 6 in the Stanley numbering convention.

  • Wow, excellent answer! Thank you! Apr 23, 2021 at 19:37

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