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.

opener_straight_IMG_2881

Working Without a Cambered Iron

The cutters in my bench planes all have cambered irons. The jack has the most – a 10” radius curve – followed by the much slighter curves of my jointer and smoothing planes. The curves do two things: They prevent the corners of the iron from digging into the work and creating “plane tracks,”...

No. 983. Robin Lee convinced Holtey to develop the 983 block plane, show here in disassembled and complete form.

Karl Holtey, Plane Pioneer

This legendary planemaker’s career has been dedicated to innovation. by Kieran Binnie pages 51-55 There is no straight path between a childhood spent in a camp for displaced persons in Germany’s Black Forest at the end of the Second World War, and a workshop in the Scottish Highlands making some of the most desirable...

lever-cap_screwdriver_IMG_5786

The Lever Cap Isn’t a Screwdriver (Or is it?)

When I bought my first Stanley No. 5 in the mid-1990s, I regularly used the lever cap as a screwdriver to adjust the tension screw in the center of the frog and to tighten and loosen the cap iron screw. Then one of my fellow employees dressed me down. You should never do that,...

opener_imperfect_surface_IMG_2928

An Imperfect Surface

For those of you who think that sanding and abrasive technology is a fairly new thing, I have news. Sanding is older than handplaning. As Geoffrey Killen points out in “Egyptian Woodworking and Furniture” (Shire, 1994), Egyptians did not use handplanes. Those tools were invented by the Romans or Greeks. Instead, Egyptian woodworkers used...

opener_IMG_3030

Adjusting Wooden-bodied Planes

Handplanes that secure the cutter with a wedge need to be adjusted with a series of taps from a mallet or a hammer. The principles below apply broadly to all wedged planes, whether it’s a wooden jack plane, a delicate 1/16”-wide hollow plane or a wedged infill plane with a metal shell. However, you...

improvised_sticking_board_IMG_2969

An Improvised (and Excellent) Sticking Board

Sticking boards are an excellent benchtop appliance when cutting mouldings by hand. A proper sticking board is an L-shaped device that holds the wood you want to “stick” (the old fashioned term for “cut mouldings.”) The fence on the sticking board prevents the wood from bowing along its length. The adjustable stops at the...

skew1_IMG_278179

Start Handplanes on the Skew

One of the little challenges for beginning handplane users to get a clean surface at the start of the cut, particularly with a smoothing plane. They push the tool forward and it leaves little bumpy chatter marks for about 3/8” of an inch until the plane starts to settle down and cut cleanly. The...

35sharpening_angle_IMG_5664

About My Love of 35°

I sharpen all of my plane irons and chisels at 35°. Here’s why: I do this to keep my sharpening regimen as simple as possible. I don’t want to pick up a tool and wonder: What angle is this sharpened to? I also don’t want to sharpen a tool, discover that I used the...