Woodworking Hand Tools

Here you’ll discover the best hand tool woodworking advice directly from the experts. We cover everything you need to know to improve your hand tool woodworking techniques and make more informed decisions about choosing and using hand tools. From simple sawing techniques to smart strategies for tackling tricky grain with a handplane or card scraper, Popular Woodworking’s best are to share their many years of experience and make you a better woodworker.

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3 Jigs for Handplaning

For many contemporary woodworkers the plane’s position as the iconic tool of woodworking has long since been replaced by the table saw, but for the traditional woodworker it remains our most important and most varied tool. One special advantage – apart from the pleasure and safety in using a plane rather than a machine...

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Soup Up a Veneer Saw with Mario Rodriguez

Once at a woodworking show, I witnessed Frank Pollaro making up veneered chess boards. He must have produced more than 30 pieces and each was perfect. The seams were tight and clean; there was no tear-out or split veneer. What impressed me most was that he was getting these results straight from his veneer...

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5 Mistakes Beginners Make with Block Planes

When I teach beginners, one of the most common phrases I hear is, “I cannot get this (insert tool name) to work. What’s wrong?” They hand the tool to me and the fun begins. Though block planes are dirt-simple handplanes, there are some important points about them that are rarely discussed in the literature....

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Tightening the ‘Stay-Set’ Chipbreaker

Last week I took my new Clifton No. 5 to teach a full-size toolchest class at The Woodworkers Club in Rockville, Md. Several of the students used it on their toolchests, which they made using cherry, pine or poplar. The plane did quite well – the iron stayed sharp through planing up an entire...

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How to Stop Your Rabbets from Sloping

Cutting a square rabbet with a rabbeting plane is a challenge for beginners; usually they cut a rabbet that slopes in toward the shoulder or away from the shoulder. When I teach people how to use a moving fillister plane, here are some tips I offer them to assist their efforts. 1. Don’t hold...

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Shannon Rogers’ Big French Saw. Dang.

Shannon Rogers of the Hand Tool School brought along his 48”-long Roubo frame saw to the Saturday meeting of the Chesapeake chapter of the Society of American Furniture Makers, explained its details and (most importantly) let us try it out during lunch. It was so effortless to use (as long as you used your...

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Settling Debts: An Update on Clifton Handplanes

Though I’ve been a non-editor at both Popular Woodworking and The Fine Tool Journal for almost three years now, I still have debts to pay. And I take those debts seriously. One of my first reviews for The Fine Tool Journal, which was reprinted in the book “Handplane Essentials,” is a review of Clifton...

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What Hand Planes are Good For

The difference between school and real life is that in real life the tests come first and then the lessons. This is especially true of woodworking; you never know how far you should take one step of a project until you are knee-deep in the next step. That’s when you realize you didn’t fuss...

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An Observation on Vintage Handplanes

Note: I started writing this blog entry more than a year ago. I shelved it and have revisited it several times since. Each time, I thought: I don’t need this kind of grief. For whatever reason (four beers, perhaps?), I offer this as an observation based on teaching students, both amateur and professional. For...