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Old Dec 29, 2003, 02:58 PM
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Ian Easton's Avatar
United Kingdom, Scotland, Fife
Joined May 1999
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X-acto block plane

I've had an X-acto block (razor?) plane in my tool box for many years. I've tried using it several times as it would have been the right tool for the job, but never had any success with it. Is there any secret to setting up the blade or is it just junk.

Does anyone make a good mini plane?

Ian
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Old Dec 29, 2003, 04:58 PM
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Punta Gorda, FL
Joined Apr 2002
4,952 Posts
There are several conditions that must be met for a plane to cut properly. The blade must be razor sharp. Sharp enough to shave the hair off the back of your hand with the first pass. The blade must be rigid enough to not chatter. The cutting angle must be low enough. The softer the material, the lower the cutting angle has to be. Most planes don't have an adjustment for cutting angle. You can adjust the effective cutting angle by skewing the plane to the direction of cut. The more skew, the lower the cutting angle. To avoid tear out, the direction of cut has to be in a direction that the blade doesn't pull up fibes where there is grain run-out.

You can use a razor plane, a thumb plane or a low angle block plane. I prefer the low angle block plane because it is easier to tune the depth of cut across the width of the blade, the throat and, the depth of cut. It has a total lack of blade chatter. It is easier to sharpen the blade using a blade guide that rolls across the stone while keeping the sharpening angle constant. The properly sharpened edge will be so highly polished that it almost looks chrome plated.
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Last edited by Ollie; Dec 29, 2003 at 05:07 PM.
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Old Dec 30, 2003, 12:42 AM
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Rudderman98's Avatar
United States, WA, Sumner
Joined Oct 2000
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Re: X-acto block plane

Quote:
Originally posted by Ian Easton
I've had an X-acto block (razor?) plane in my tool box for many years. I've tried using it several times as it would have been the right tool for the job, but never had any success with it. Is there any secret to setting up the blade or is it just junk.

Does anyone make a good mini plane?

Ian
I HAD the X-Acto block plane and IMO it IS junk. I don't care how many times you try and sharpen the blade, it just doesn't cut right. Ollie is very much correct in his comments about the care and sharpening of planes but the X-Acto is just awful.

Now if you want a really good quality plane, try the Solingen razor plane from Germany distributed through Hobby Lobby. I've had mine 7 years and it has not missed a beat. Cuts paper thin sheets of balsa with ease. I use this plane and the Great Planes electric planer together. They make a great team.
My $0.02,
Perry
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Old Dec 30, 2003, 08:23 AM
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Ian Easton's Avatar
United Kingdom, Scotland, Fife
Joined May 1999
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Thanks guys.

I was just looking at the one from Hobby Lobby yesterday and was wondering how it was.

Ian
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Old Dec 30, 2003, 12:49 PM
Hacker motoren rules :)
Philip Thulin's Avatar
Sweden, Östergötland County, Norrköping
Joined Sep 2001
763 Posts
I´ve had one of these and was frustrated about how it didnt work and threw it away, but I got another one (Graupner) and found out that if you make the cut with 45 degree angle it cuts nicely w/o problem, so I guess the trick is to not use it as a regular plane but to twist it slightly, about 30-45 degrees against the grain...

/Philip
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Old Dec 30, 2003, 01:29 PM
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Wallingford, Ct
Joined Sep 2001
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I never had any sucess with any razor plane. I do like the Master Airscrew plane.
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Old Dec 30, 2003, 02:32 PM
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BMatthews's Avatar
The 'Wack, BC, Canada
Joined Oct 2002
11,288 Posts
Quote:
Originally posted by Philip Thulin
...twist it slightly, about 30-45 degrees against the grain...

/Philip
This is a common technique for general woodworking when using a plane as well as for modelling. Generally the softer the wood, and it don't get much softer than balsa, the better this technique works. The key is to angle the block to the right direction as well. The cut off the wood will soon tell you which direction it should be angled and by how much.

The Xacto plane IS a piece of junk. My hat is off to anyone that can make such a disaster function. The Hobby lobby one looks great but those old double edged blades are getting hard to find in any sort of decent quality. The stainless being much too soft for even balsa wood for long.

I made my own out of Cherry wood that use a common single edged razor blade. The depth of cut being adjustable. A bit of work but then woodworking is one of my hobbies too and making my own tools is part of the fun.
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Old Feb 02, 2004, 06:27 PM
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Spokane WA
Joined Aug 2000
185 Posts
GP power planer

Thought I'd pass along the existance of a small trim plane by Stanley. About 3 1/2 to 4 inches long and about 1 3/4 wide. Does a really good job and wasn't expensive. Got mine at a top quality tool supply around here.


Quote:
Originally posted by Rudderman98
I I use this plane and the Great Planes electric planer together. They make a great team.
Perry
Perry,
I'm interested in the GP power planer you mention in your post.
Can it take some punishment? I'm undecided whether to get one of them or go to Sears and look at electric hand planes.
I need to work the leading edge of a J-3 Cub wing leading edge that didn't go together as well as it should have. Got a lot of dry glue (white) to cut through.

Thanks
Dave
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Old Feb 03, 2004, 12:05 PM
Jeep Geek with wings
burntkat's Avatar
Charleston, SC
Joined Jan 2004
377 Posts
Re: X-acto block plane

Quote:
Originally posted by Ian Easton
I've had an X-acto block (razor?) plane in my tool box for many years. I've tried using it several times as it would have been the right tool for the job, but never had any success with it. Is there any secret to setting up the blade or is it just junk.

Does anyone make a good mini plane?

Ian
Funny-- I have the exact same tool and it is my "go-to" widget whenever I need to carve Balsa.

No experience with woodworking when I bought it 2 years ago to shape my Spirit's nose block-- followed the directions and it works great!
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Old Feb 03, 2004, 12:09 PM
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burntkat's Avatar
Charleston, SC
Joined Jan 2004
377 Posts
Hmm-- having read the rest of the posts here, and being able to pull paper-thin pieces of balsa off with this plane, I am wondering if perhaps I have a natural talent for woodworking?

Might explain my goal to get a house with a barn so I can set up a shop and make my own furniture....
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Old Feb 03, 2004, 11:53 PM
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Yukonho's Avatar
Halfmoon Bay, BC, Canada
Joined Feb 2002
2,134 Posts
I recently bought the master airscrew razor plane. Once I got the hang of it, it worked really well. I take off a very small amount at a time. It would be nice if the angle was adjustable, but for 8 bucks, you get what you get.
I bought the master airscrew blades for it, but I wonder, will single edge razors work?
co
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Old Feb 04, 2004, 12:02 AM
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Joined Aug 2003
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Cheep Balsa planer

The planer that I found works the best on balsa
Is a potato peeler try it on some scrap it needs
To be a new sharp one and wont work on a flat
Surface but for shaping a leading edge it can’t be beat
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Old Feb 06, 2004, 03:50 PM
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chlee's Avatar
Atlanta, GA
Joined May 2000
602 Posts
Just thought I'd share with you my most bloody/most foolish modelling injury:

Be very careful about holding your wood with your non-planing hand. Ideally, secure it to a bench or at least hold the piece from behind the plane.

I was once holding a wing panel in my left hand and planing the LE with my right hand. The dull plane stuck in the wood and then jumped forward, shaving a big chunk of flesh off of my knuckles. YoWwW! This is also another good reason to keep your modelling blades sharp and use common sense.

- Chung
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Old Feb 18, 2004, 11:59 PM
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United States, IA, Chelsea
Joined Feb 2004
4 Posts
i made one out of some scraps and a utility knife blade and it worked fairly well. but not perfect. then i was at the local menards store and found a small block plane that was about 3 inches long for 4 bucks and it works great. its the best 4 bucks ive ever spent
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Old Feb 26, 2004, 12:32 PM
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The Texas Gulf Coast where hurricanes come to play
Joined Aug 2003
1,960 Posts
Rudderman is right, the Solingen plane sold by Hobby Lobby is the best for modeling I've ever used. I've had several and it's my all time favorite.
Tom
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