Hand Plane Keeps Jamming — Top Reasons + Surefire Fixes

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A traditional woodworking hand plane or hand planer is one of the indispensable tools for shaping and smoothing wood. And you would want to avoid using a hand planer that spontaneously needs fixing and disrupts your woodworking. 

Therefore, our experts will reveal in this article the common reasons why a hand plane keeps jamming and how you will troubleshoot when it clogs.

Common Reasons Why a Hand Plane Jams

A hand plane offers excellent smoothness, curves, and shape to your wood projects using its sharp chisel, angled in a wooden or metal body. However, mishandling of hand planes results in your tool getting stuck. 

Hand planes started to jam because the chip breaker and the iron blade had a gap in between, disrupting the shaving of the wood. The gap is also where the thin shaved wood cuts jammed, clogging the mouth of your hand plane. 

The wood shaved from your hand plane curled into it, the chip breaker and the iron. You cannot easily notice the clogging of curled wood in the gap. But eventually, you will observe that no wood comes through from the mouth of your hand plane.

Another reason your hand planes get jammed because the wedge tips are misaligned from the chip iron curves and shrunk narrower than its mortise. You can use a flashlight to see if there’s a gap between the tips of the wedge and the mortise. 

woodworker using a hand plane

The wedge and mortice trapped the shaved wood because of the skewing points. Therefore, with no gap between them, you can expect your hand plane won’t jam and disrupt your woodworking. 

Another thing you could tell if your hand plane does not work properly in woodworking is the plane does not cut and produces thick shaving. If this happens, the blade of your hand plane must be too sharp for hand planning. 

Also, a too-sharp blade creates more clogging because of thick shaving. This is one of the beginner woodworking hand tools useful in straightening warped or twisted wood, shaving off thin wood slices, and chamfering the corners of the board surface.

Therefore, to only achieve thin shaving and prevent your hand plane from getting jammed,  you must identify the cause of these issues. Ensure to address each issue before using it so you know what parts of the hand plane need fixing. 

Steps to Troubleshoot a Hand Plane That Jams

Necessary Supplies

Step #1: Tidy Up the Mouth and Get Rid of the Shavings

fixing hand plane

When you see shavings get stuck in the mouth of your hand plane, clean and remove the shavings and wood wax. This is important to have a clear picture of the hand plane and know why it gets jammed. 

You must remove all the residue between the chip breaker and the iron. Ensure your work area is well-lit to see the inside of your hand plane. This way, you can correctly identify and fix your hand plane issues.

Step #2: Flashlight the Iron and Chip Breaker

Check the chip breaker and the iron for a gap using a flashlight. To do this, have your hand plane positioned above your head while flashing the light through it. Place the center light in between the chip breaker and the iron. 

A gap must be fixed if you see any light coming through in between. Ensure you look through the chip breaker, looking up at the tip inside the hole. Regardless if the gap is big or small, it must be fixed to prevent your hand plane from clogging.

Step #3: Checking for Gaps

When you see the gaps in your hand plane, carefully examine your hand plane if how big or small the gap is. The light from your hand plane flashing into it will determine the extent of your troubleshooting.

checking hand plane

But checking the gaps of your hand plane is important to prevent clogging your tool. Having gaps in your hand plane is one of the common causes that need to be troubleshot before woodworking.

Step #4: Dressing the Edge of the Chip Breaker

After you have identified the gaps between the chip breaker and the iron, you need to dress the chip breaker edge. Dressing the chip breaker edge must be done to flatten and smoothen the surface. 

You can dress the chip breaker edge using a diamond stone or durable file. Place the chip’s tip on the top of the iron. Then lower it at the bottom of the edge and move it side-to-side motion. 

Afterward, get the chip breaker edge to clean and smoothen before making a round motion over your chip breaker. While doing this, place your fingers in a hook-like position over the edge of the bench. 

Step #5: Polishing the Chip Breaker

After dressing, flattening, smoothening, and sharpening the chip breaker edge, polish the edge using sandpaper. Sanding the chip breaker edge will remove bumps [1] and randomness of your chip breaker. 

sharpening hand plane blade

When sanding, you can use a buffing wheel to polish the chip breaker edge. However, ensure your chip breaker won’t be too-sharp for your hand plane. Otherwise, your wood shaving will result in thick slices, which cause clogging on your hand plane. 

However, with your polished and sharpened chip breaker edge, you can get a smoother, sharper wood surface. 

Step #6: Matching and Contacting the Iron and the Chip Breaker

After you prepared your chip breaker, assemble it with the iron blade of your hand plane. Ensure you screw it well so it won’t get loose while woodworking. While placing the chip breaker, be careful not to touch the polished, sharp edge.

Once you assemble it, you must check for gaps between the chip breaker and the iron blade edge. Use the flashlight and ensure that no light is passing through in between. Otherwise, fix the screw and check again until you cannot find any gaps. 

jamming hand plane

If you can find no gaps, you can now use the planer with your wood project. You won’t get disrupted and can easily troubleshoot if your hand plane keeps jamming. 

Tips for Troubleshooting Your Hand Plane

When troubleshooting your hand plane, you can’t avoid some challenges. Therefore, here are the tips to avoid clogging and getting stuck if you notice immediately.

Issues of the Hand Plane Reasons  Solutions 
Blade stops cutting The backlash from the adjustment technique Adjust the depth of the blade downward
Chatter The blade is loose. Clamped the bell of a hand plane with additional pressure
Cuts the beginning and end of the board instead of the middle The hand plane sole is not flat enough. Use sandpaper with lower grit to flatten the sole
Hand plane jammed or clogged A gap between the chip breaker and the iron blade.  Dress the chip breaker edge
Hand plane marks on the wood surface The blade is not leveled, or its corners are shrunk Dress the blade to level it with the corners.
Wood tear outs The chip breaker is too far, or the mouth is too large. Make adjustments to the chip breaker position

Besides your hand planes clogging or jamming, this tool also caused skipping, digging in, and chattering. You must find out why this tool causes those difficulties in using the hand plane and how to troubleshoot each issue.

Interesting Read: Essential Hand Tools List 

woodworker using a hand plane

Reasons Why Hand Planes Keep Skipping

Common reasons why hand planes continue skipping during woodworking are, basically, your technique, sharpening, and the plane itself. 

A dull edge of the hand plane produces thick shavings on your wood, which could jam your tool, making you work harder with it. Although you will initially find it significantly sharp, the sharpness degrades as you work on your wood. 

At this point, strop your hand plane to prevent further damage to your wood and continue with a sharp edge hand plane.

Also, your hand planes skip because of unsteady strokes as you woodwork. If your strokes are not steady when shaving off the wood, you’ll end up with hand plane markings on the wood surface. 

using hand plane

To prevent this, you must fully control the hand plane with your body instead of your arms pushing it. Using a full body leads to a steady hold of your hand plane throughout your woodworking. 

Ensure your body is next to the hand plane as you push it forward and backward, leaning into the wood. Then form a stance placing your back foot to your foot without extending your arms for short lumber. 

However, for longer wood, extend your arms without exhausting your muscles. Repeat your hand plane strokes in this position, and you will notice it becomes easier while working on the straight course.

Reasons Why Hand Planes Dig In

Your hand plane may keep jamming and also make wood surfaces uneven because of the blade, frig, and shavings trapped inside the blade or backlashes. Backlashes are one of the primary reasons why your hand plane digs in. 

Therefore, you can troubleshoot this by positioning the hand plane blade downwards. Placing the screw downward will take up the backlash. You can continue to adjust and test the blade of your hand plane as long as it won’t dig in during woodworking.

KAKURI Japanese Hand Plane

Also, another reason why hand planes dig in is the iron blade flexes or works against the wood grain. When using the hand plane, you will encounter the blade of your tool biting into the wood. If this occurs, you must stop and get your hand plane fixed.

You should adjust the knob carefully and a fraction at a time because the knob of the hand plane is sensitive. Then take a few trial passes without your tool biting the wood. If trials are successful, you can advance the blade and continue shaving off the wood.

In addition, you can prevent dig-in and other hand plane marks on your wood; you must know different downward pressures. You could put all the pressure on the handles while the toe of your hand panel rests on the wood. 

Then, the board should support the back sole of the hand plane. You must keep the pressure on the handles throughout woodworking. You can observe that you feel awkward initially, but when you get used to this technique, you can finish your job flawlessly.

Moreover, using a hand plane against the wood grain caused your tool to dig into the wood surface. If this becomes a challenge in your woodworking, avoid using knotty wood, and you must make a test cut on the tricky part of the lumber. 

dull hand plane

You can also use a piece of scrap wood to check accurately the lateral adjustment. To do this, you have to advance the blade until the cutting edge reaches the past bottom of the sole. Then run the scrap wood past the blade, both corners and the middle. 

These could be the reasons why hand planes dig into your wood surface. Therefore, you can achieve your desired result by knowing the reasons and the sure fixes.

Why Does My Hand Plane Chatter? How Do I Prevent This?

You can prevent your hand plane from chattering using a lighter cut by retracting the iron, fixing the gap between the chip breaker and the iron, sharpening the iron blade, and removing the residues on the bed.

Chatter is a term used when a hand plane goes wrong because of using an unsupported blade that springs and flexes back during the cut. Despite its thin and lightweight cut, it caused marks and riffles on the wood.

Therefore, chattering occurs once the pressure between the clamp and lever cap is not enough to secure the frog. Otherwise, the hand plane won’t chatter if you will adjust the lever cap. 


What are the problems with hand planing?

The problems in hand planing are the hand plane getting jammed and chattered, wood tear outs, the hand plane leaving markings on the surface, and the blade stops cutting. 

But you can prevent and fix these problems by ensuring no gaps are in between the chip breaker and the iron. 


With this guide, you now know why your hand plane keeps jamming and the ways to fix it. The troubleshooting methods listed above will help you finish your wood project as fast as possible. 

Most importantly, owning and being familiar with this hand tool gives you the advantage of making a perfectly smooth and even surface for your wood furniture and other wood works.  

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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