Build an Oil Wicke

Help your hand planes glide effortlessly with lubrication from a continental bench accessory.
By Samuel Peterson
Page: 61

From the October 2005 issue #150
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In the countless dark and dreary woodworking shops around Europe, before modern times and machines turned them into icons of days gone by, craftsmen made every minute count. After all, this was about putting bread on the table and anything that would make life easier was sorely welcome.

Chances are, shortly after man put a plane to wood he discovered that lubricating the plane’s sole was a good thing. The effort of pushing or pulling the plane over the surface became easier and thus better. One can only imagine the oils people tried, and the results. Olive oil would go rancid, while others left a sticky mess and damaged the workpiece. Eventually, it was discovered that one particular oil was a better choice. Raw linseed oil, courtesy of the seeds of the flax plant, turned out to be a leading contender because it was readily available and cheap. Applying the oil to the plane is where the oil wicke, or plane wick, proved itself. Using materials readily available, a benchtop wicke can be made in a short time and will provide months of service with nary a thought.

From the October 2005 issue #150
Buy this issue now