Handplanes

Handplanes are the mascot of hand tool woodworking – its profile is instantly recognizable, harkening back to a day when the loudest noise in the woodshop was a hand-wielded hammer. But don’t let that image fool you. Every shop needs at least one handplane. We cover the gamut – from the simple block plane to the more complex joinery planes and moulding planes. Here you’ll find the resources to learn how to use the many species of handplane as well as the handplane essentials you need to know. Master handplane techniques and you will be well on your way to mastering woodworking.

The strap wrench at work on a fence collet.

The Nutsaver: This Stuff Writes Itself

A couple years ago I revealed my secret shame: I use pliers to tighten the round collets on the fences and depth stops of my Veritas planes. Read that post here. I was admonished by the “lovers of round brass things” but then eventually was released on my own recognizance. Recently, a professional woodworker...

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Another Great Maker of Wooden Handplanes

When I first started using and writing about wooden moulding planes, there was only one modern maker with a full line of planes: the pioneers Clark & Williams (now Old Street Tool). If you ordered from them, it could take two years to receive your tools. The two-person operation got so backed up that...

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New No. 2 Tote; New Finish

This weekend I drew up the plans to make a new tote for my No. 2 plane, and I realized I need to order a $10 drill bit to do the job. So instead I decided to modify the existing tote to see how far I could take it. After studying the tote for...

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Are You Suffering From Smoothing Plane Bloat?

Among the smoothing planes that Stanley Works made (which includes the Nos. 1 to 4), the company sold far more No. 4s than any other size, according to Stanley collectors. That was my rationale for buying a No. 4 many years ago. I still think it’s a good size for a handplane, with a...

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Fine -tune a Handplane’s Back Iron

For me, the goal with my smoothing plane is to set it up so I can ignore the grain direction of a board or a glued-up panel. There are many valid ways to do this. For most woodworkers I know, there are two ways to accomplish this goal that we all agree upon: Sharpen...

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An Experiment: Changing Smoothing Planes for a Year

I’m the weirdo who counts the number of steps and hand motions it takes me to brew a cup of coffee. And I’m always looking for ways to shave away a few minutes here and there from my routine activities (for example, brushing my teeth while simultaneously fetching my clothes for the day). So...

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Handplanes: The Long and Short of Flat

Basic handplane theory states that long planes are for straightening wood and short planes are for smoothing it. The planes in the middle can do either job or be set up for roughing out the work. But all planes do some straightening of the work, and most planes do some smoothing, too. So this...

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Coffin Smoother Tune-up

To try and inspire you to give wooden planes a try I have endeavored to keep things within this post as simple as possible, but before we get started a bit of preamble. I’m going to avoid waxing lyrical about these planes and try to let history give you a nudge. Although wooden planes...

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Before the Archetype

If there is a defining image that says woodworking, a silhouette that most would identify with, then it’s likely the Bailey-style outline of a plane would be top of the list. Gracing many a business card, letterhead or sign on a van, it’s all around.  A mark of the plane’s success is the very...