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Can we talk about White Oak?

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  • Can we talk about White Oak?

    So today, newb here hit another brick wall. I bought some air dried white oak. Doing an outdoor project for my wife. Nothing fancy but I canít work this stuff at all. Iím wondering if the moisture content is too high or if white oak is just a biatch... or both.

    The wood I bought reads 12% moisture. I tried running it lightly through my planer once I put a new belt on it because thatís right I burnt the belt off first out of the box last weekend... trying to use my shp vac is a dust collector doesnít last long... anyway, comedy of errors aside, I am getting a lot of tear-out.

    I dug out what I think is called a jointer plane, an old 24 inch long hand plane with a sharp blade (freshly sharpened from a sharpening shop) and no dice with that either. Nothing but hassles, jams and tearout.

    I have my spare jointer blades out for sharpening, The ones in the runner arenít the greatest either.

    I trimmed off a bit on the end and now Iím getting a reading of 14%. So the questions I guess I have are, is this wood too wet? And is it possible I have poor quality wood?

    or am I just looking at a huge uphill learning curve dealing with White Oak? (keep in mind all my experience has been generic stuff with softwood or installing oak or mahogany trim
    Last edited by ShoestringMariner; 01-26-2019, 09:47 PM.
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  • #2

    Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

    white oak is no different to work with than any other wood, its harder than the pine your used to machining
    12% is still a little high but should be ok for an outdoor project

    if you get tearout when joointing or planing, feed the board in the other direction.
    my shop is a beaver lodge
    steve, sarnia, ont




    1940's Craftmaster Lathe

    https://www.facebook.com/artistryinwoodca/

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    • #3

      Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

      Originally posted by stevem View Post
      white oak is no different to work with than any other wood, its harder than the pine your used to machining
      12% is still a little high but should be ok for an outdoor project

      if you get tearout when joointing or planing, feed the board in the other direction.

      thank you, I did that. Thatís when I tried going to the levelling plane. Then I tried doing both directions with it. Now, thereís a very good possibility I donít have the levelling plane set up properly. I tried a very low projection, it hardly cut, anything more, it dug in and sticks/tears.

      iím just reading now about setting up Chip breakers etc. For reference sake, the piece Iím trying to plane is 6/4, 8 inches wide.

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      • #4

        Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

        Just an off the cuff thought. If you have concerns about your ability to successfully mill up the oak and don't want to waste it you could always put your boards back outside to dry for another season. Sticker 'em up, strap em and cover....then head to the Borg grab some red cedar.

        That said if you really want to work your oak and put another arrow in the quiver, make yourself a scub plane. You do not need spend a whole lot of money or time make one. All you need is POS #4 smoother that you have no qualms of possibly destroying. Lots of examples on YouTube show how. Make a pair of winding stick as well to help "read" the boards. Use your newly made scrub plane first followed by a #5 and then the jointer to flatten one side and then give the planer another try. You can help your planer out by using the scrub plane to knock the fuzz and high spots on the side that is put through the surface planer

        Another area to look at is your plane iron primary bevel angle. IMHO a 25į bevel will work poorly with oak and could be the cause of tearout. A 30į primary bevel with a 2įmicro-bevel what you should use.

        At the risk of going off track, make sure what ever your using is sharp, really sharp. Anything back from the sharpening shop will still need to have a final honing.

        Hope some of this can be of help. Just have fun and keep on practicing and learning!

        Pardon for rambling, but in full disclosure I am an avid hand tool user and strong believer in hand planes.

        Cheers,
        Jim


        Now if you want accelerated learning curve the white oak you have at 12 - 14% M.C. would be great for steambending🤔









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        • #5

          Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

          I also find white oak,especially if it is figured,is prone to tear out.it is also much harder than the pine mentioned above.if you skew your jointer plane,that is hold it at a angle as you use it with the grain,you will be less likly to get tear out

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          • #6

            Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

            The moisture content measured should not have an influence. In fact itís in the range it will be if outside.

            As mentioned, properly tuned equipment, very sharp cutting edges, slow feed rate with light cuts. Also pay attention to the direction of cut.
            Egon
            from
            The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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            • #7

              Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

              An electric planer should handle white oak easily. Very light cuts (1/32 or less to see how it handles it) and grain direction. Tear outs shouldnít happen if fed correctly and cuts are shallow. If your planer is 2 speed, use the slow feed rate speed.
              JimPTBO likes this.
              Me: How do you spell “apathy”?
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              • #8

                Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

                A few comments from my experience.....
                -- white oak is a tough wood on/for new woodworkers and the first thing it teaches you is to leave it alone. I have been aging my stash for well over ten years now.
                -- white oak can be hard to work with hand tools, even good tools and fricken' impossible with poorer ones
                -- if your plane blade won't shave the hair off your arm it likely isn't sharp enough, and if you can't see through the shaving it isn't set right.
                -- keep the tables on your planer well waxed to reduce friction.

                Other than that, white oak sure looks nice when you get it to the shape you want it...

                I think Jim is right on.

                Enjoy the hill climb, I know your world will surely look better from the top of the hill.

                BW

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                • #9

                  Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

                  Originally posted by ShoestringMariner View Post
                  So today, newb here hit another brick wall. I bought some air dried white oak. Doing an outdoor project for my wife. Nothing fancy but I canít work this stuff at all. Iím wondering if the moisture content is too high or if white oak is just a biatch... or both.

                  The wood I bought reads 12% moisture. I tried running it lightly through my planer once I put a new belt on it because thatís right I burnt the belt off first out of the box last weekend... trying to use my shp vac is a dust collector doesnít last long... anyway, comedy of errors aside, I am getting a lot of tear-out.

                  I dug out what I think is called a jointer plane, an old 24 inch long hand plane with a sharp blade (freshly sharpened from a sharpening shop) and no dice with that either. Nothing but hassles, jams and tearout.

                  I have my spare jointer blades out for sharpening, The ones in the runner arenít the greatest either.

                  I trimmed off a bit on the end and now Iím getting a reading of 14%. So the questions I guess I have are, is this wood too wet? And is it possible I have poor quality wood?

                  or am I just looking at a huge uphill learning curve dealing with White Oak? (keep in mind all my experience has been generic stuff with softwood or installing oak or mahogany trim
                  Obviously I have no clue which planer you have but what I do know is if you burned out a belt it was spinning on the pulley while something else was jammed to a stop. Also obviously, it was not the motor that was stopped, so that kinda leaves the cutter head. How does the cutter head stop? It's jammed while trying to cut too much at once.

                  Before you turn on the power, lift your cutter head so you can push your Oak piece all the way through the planer by hand without any resistance. Then lower your head until it touches your stock and push the stock ALL THE WAY THROUGH by hand. NO POWER!!! If the piece runs into resistance lift the head a tad until it slides through unrestricted then lower the head 1/16th and turn the planer on. Run your stock through. It should only cut at the highest point now. Lower the head another 1/16th. Run the stock through again. Continue this until you get one side flattened. If your stock is really gnarly you can flip from side to side to take down high spots but you have to follow the same procedure. There is no reason why you should burn out a belt if you do this. If your machine bogs down and burns a belt it's so dull you couldn't cut your finger.

                  You can do the exact same thing with a hand plane if it's sharp and if you follow Al's advice by skewing the angle of the plane and using a short plane as suggested above by JimPTBO above. You don't use long hand planes until you progressively flatten your stock with shorter planes simply because they are easier to handle and also not as wide as the bigger planes.

                  Jim also mentions that your blade requires Honing even after coming from the shop. Absolutely true and easy to do with some honing compound and a piece of leather. Nothing else matters if your tooling is in fact Sharp. It sounds like yours is not unfortunately.
                  "Do it Right!"

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                  • #10

                    Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

                    Thanks guys, much much better luck today.

                    I did a bit of reading and learned that my chip breakers were set wrong. And Iím starting understand what you guys mean about honing. Iím going to have to learn about this. Iím going to keep my eye on Lee Valley to see if they have any seminars coming up.

                    But even with the hand plane blades as they are ( chip breakers newly adjusted ), I was able to level out the highs with the jointer planer before hitting the thickness planer. Someone mentioned skewing the planer slightly which I found helped. I also found that pulling as opposed to pushing was getting me some better shavings. I always assumed that you were supposed to push them judging from handle construction.

                    and as a metal fabricator, I think itís actually easy working with Metal then working with this stuff LOL



                    Rusty ; I didnít screw the planer with the oak. I was messing around with some softwood scraps figuring out how it was going to build it. Itís a ridgid thickness planer and I was using my shop vac as a dust collector. Not realizing how fast it will fill up. And yeah, you probably figured out by now, I totally plugged the discharge fan and seized it up. This is what caused the belt to burn off. I noticed it was kicking out a lot of shavings out the front before my brain could formulate something wasnít right. Happened in a split second, and Iím quite grateful that the belt was the weak link because something couldíve broken otherwise. Eight dollar fix and another hanging in the cabinet just in case it happens again.

                    but yes, thatís how I was feeding the oak through today, working my way down until it started to cut. Add about a 64th at a time. I like the pass-through idea without it being turned on. Good insurance


                    Egon likes this.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

                      Glad to hear your sticking with it! Wish someone would have passed on Rusty advice to me when I got my first lunchbox surface planer about ten years ago. I hated it. We had a 20", 5 hp planer at work....set it at 15 fps and it would cut an 1/8" per pass.

                      Anyhow, got a question for you. When you state that it worked better when pulled, did you change ends or standing in the same turn the plane around? The answer may have been looking at you as it relates to grain direction.

                      Barkside you run down the hill - heartwood side you charge up the hill. Reading grain direction can be difficult when using rough cut lumber.


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                      • #12

                        Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

                        Thanks Jim but lets not diminish your input either. I still have a little delta lunchbox and use it too. I'll put it up against any planer I've ever come across for finish.
                        "Do it Right!"

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                        • #13

                          Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

                          I see that your in Guelph so i would assume the closest Lee Valley would be Burlington.
                          Every Saturday morning David at Lee Valley is there and will actually do a 1 on 1 with you on sharpening. If you bring your plane blade or chisel with you he will actually demonstrate on your blade and you can go home with a sharp blade. I have followed his routine and now i don't have any dull blades or chisels. Nice thing is that once you get it sharp it doesnt take alot of time to keep it sharp.
                          JimPTBO likes this.

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                          • #14

                            Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

                            Originally posted by JimPTBO View Post
                            Glad to hear your sticking with it! Wish someone would have passed on Rusty advice to me when I got my first lunchbox surface planer about ten years ago. I hated it. We had a 20", 5 hp planer at work....set it at 15 fps and it would cut an 1/8" per pass.

                            Anyhow, got a question for you. When you state that it worked better when pulled, did you change ends or standing in the same turn the plane around? The answer may have been looking at you as it relates to grain direction.

                            Barkside you run down the hill - heartwood side you charge up the hill. Reading grain direction can be difficult when using rough cut lumber.

                            I didnít turn the lumber around or change the direction of cut. I think it had more to do with my current bench set up and body positioning now that I think about it

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                            • #15

                              Re: Can we talk about White Oak?

                              Originally posted by Mauroc View Post
                              I see that your in Guelph so i would assume the closest Lee Valley would be Burlington.
                              Every Saturday morning David at Lee Valley is there and will actually do a 1 on 1 with you on sharpening. If you bring your plane blade or chisel with you he will actually demonstrate on your blade and you can go home with a sharp blade. I have followed his routine and now i don't have any dull blades or chisels. Nice thing is that once you get it sharp it doesnt take alot of time to keep it sharp.
                              Actually, Waterloo is closer as Iím a bit north of Guelph, but that something Iíd make the trip for if Waterloo didnít have any of those seminars - thanks for the heads up.

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