Ugly Stringer ... Can't get it to plane down pretty

Anyone have issues before with a stubborn stringer dealing with US Blanks? While bringing down the stringer, no matter which direction I tried running the hand plane I had a section in the middle of the board (deck side) that would tear/rip at the wood like it was going against the grain.


This happens with any blank if I try running the plane or spokeshave the wrong direction even with fresh blades / I think its the nose on the deck side and tail of the bottom that I always have to switch the direction of my plane. This paticular board however just didn’t care which way I went. I made sure I was running the hand plane at a 45 angle with just one side of the blade exposed. Kazuma has a video of how he sets up his hand plane in which I mimicked.


The rest of the boards stringer planned fine it was just that one section. I’ll take pictures tomorrow for reference…


US Blanks 5’10" Fish Blank / Poly / Red Density / Stock Stringer…


Sounds like an anomaly in the grain, maybe there was a knot adjacent that was cut off, but the wood surrounding a knot can be quite dense and difficult to work. Wood is a product of nature, so its subject to the occasional irregularities and inconsistencies that encompasses. Maybe try sharpening your planer blade, and setting it for very shallow cuts.

What you describe is not exclusive to U S   BLANKS.       It can occur with almost any piece of wood.     Several times I’ve had the grain in a stringer reverse.      Sometimes in one place, and on several occasions up to half a dozen times.     Once discovered, you have to change the direction you are planing, in just that area, and then change again for the rest of the stringer.       It’s a pain in the ass, but with care you’ll get good results.       Sharp blades, are your best friend.

…ok, because you just have the problem installed the solution is this: with the electric planer at the minimum cut pass it through, normally toward nose; this will keep the wood tearing down; clean with hand block and the grit that you have in the rest of the foam; I mean start with coarser and finish with the last you passed.

Now you need to observe the leveling etc of the area regarding the rest of the surface; if needs more shaving on the wood; you need to repeat the previous process; if not you need a japanese curved handplane to do the final pass without tearing and to pass the final sandpaper.

However, you can do similar with a shallow trimmer handplane at 45 in both directions; is very shallow but you ll see the tearing on the wood is about to start; there you stop and clean with a sandpaper onto the wood then pass the final sandpaper over all the surface. With this last solution, you will see an imperceptible higher wood than foam in that area, but is only visualized on the shape but not when glassed, so is ok.

I tell you that is a bit frustrating when you need the exact meaurements due is a custom order…but is possible to make it right.

Is more difficult to explain what I mentioned, that seems a nonsense but is not and works, than to do it really.

With problematic woods sometimes you need to repeat the process few times. Remember that with all the tools the passes are very shallow, at minimum.

A tip: try not let the wood as a too smooth surface because the handplanes could slide there and never cut so you would finish tearing the foam but with the wood too high. To avoid this, or when you see that is starting to happen, is the symptom that you need a not so shallow tool (electric planer)

-Normally occurs between the deck and the starting of the nose curve.

I’ve had good luck using bench planes on that curly grain.  The higher angle and blade orientation has more of a smoothing effect and doesn’t get under the grain like a low angle plane.  A sharp blade and shallow cut won’t mar the foam.

This Stanley #2 is 7” and is the one I grab for tough grain when the stringers aren’t huge or in a tighter area.  I only pull these out when the stringer gets difficult.

Nothing in my Shaping bay I am sure is as sharp as anything Bill or Gene has.  Gene is correct about the angle of the blade.  I don’t Shape US Blanks.  Millennium, Arctic and Marko.  Rarely have any stringer problems.  When I do I turn around and come at it from the other direction.  A month or so ago I had problems with a stringer so I took the Skil to it (as reverb mentioned).  Took the stringer down and then brought the foam down to what I wanted.  75% of all stringer material comes from the same place anyway.  I think currently Arctic is the only foam company doing their own stringers.

Before discovering the bench plane for this problem I used to map out the grain direction on tape for the extreme cases. It was more time consuming and less efficient.

In your situation use a hard block and various grits of sandpaper to grind the stringer down. Blades will dig into denser areas of the wood and you are experiencing. 

We mill our own stringers and take great care choose the best wood and position the rocker and foil cuts to be as far away from any knots in the plank as there is a significant wood density change in those areas which affects the grain and planing ability. 

Sidenote: There’s never been a stringer problem with stringerless EPS and carbon reinforcement. Just sayin’…

try a razor blade type plane set to just barely get a cut. angle at 45 with light pressure. when you feel it start to dig, let off and come at it from the other direction. the technique may take some practice…

i have been using the applecore 3 ply stringers whenever i can get them for shortboards - much more consistent grain - cuts so smooth and easy!

Same solution for me LOL.