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Smoothing Plane Connundrum

Smooth planing drawer frontsI was finish planing some particularly difficult ribbon striped African Mahogany drawer fronts this weekend. Usually the more figured and beautiful, the more difficult the wood is to work. So it was, I had a 50 degree beveled blade in my Veritas bevel up smoother, the throat was closed up very tightly and I was pulling off shavings 1 thou or less in thickness. This was the only way I could get a tear out free surface with this tough wood.

So here is my problem. I had flattened the surface, then made several passes across and back on the drawer front with these wispy shavings. I stopped for a moment to wax my sole because pushing a 50 degree blade is hard work and I was looking for a little lubrication. When I went back to planing, the plane skated smoothly across the surface but was no longer producing a shaving. I kept at it for a few seconds then suddenly the shavings started sliding out the mouth. I had changed nothing in the setting of the plane. So what stopped the plane from cutting?

Ribbon striped Khaya Mahogany drawer front

Shiny, Smooth, and ready for finish

Is it possible that the plane was set so lightly that the added thickness of wax on the sole raised the blade up and away from the wood? After working it for a few minutes and melting the wax due to friction, the sole dropped down to allow the blade to engage the work again. This is my theory but I have never had this happen before. Any thoughts on what stopped the plane from cutting?

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