Chris Schwarz's Blog

Revising ‘Handplane Essentials’

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During the last few months I’ve been revising “Handplane Essentials,” an out-of print book that we published while I was the editor at Popular Woodworking Magazine.

The revisions, additions and subtractions will be significant. We’re removing a lot of the reviews and features on planemakers who are no longer in business. And I hope we’ll replace them with articles on those who are.

On the technique side of things, I’m writing two long chapters that cover beading planes, complex moulders and hollows and rounds. At the time of writing the first book, I didn’t feel confident enough to tackle these topics with any authority. After teaching these methods to lots of woodworkers during the last seven years, I’m now ready to put down my thoughts on this topic (with big thanks to Matt Bickford of M.S. Bickford planes for laying some incredible groundwork).

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The other big change to the book is incorporating chipbreakers into the section on setting up a handplane. When I wrote the book, I (like many woodworkers) was skeptical about how well they work. About six years ago David Charlesworth encouraged me to replicate some experiments by a Japanese professor. That experiment changed my mind completely.

Chipbreakers aren’t the only solution to taming tear-out. They’re one solution. And I’ve merely folded that idea into the book as a whole.

Other snips and additions: I’ve added some tricks that I’ve learned for sharpening router plane blades. And I’m adding an article that delves deeper into block planes. I’ve removed some discussions of tools that I don’t use anymore (my tool kit has shrunk significantly since first writing the book, but at that time I was reviewing hand tools for the magazine and was expected to have a broader view).

I’ll be turning in my revisions in a couple weeks, and then Scott Francis and the designers get to do their job to make it all fit together. I’m not sure when it will be released, but I’m told it will be a hardback and printed in the United States, just like the first edition.

— Christopher Schwarz

5 thoughts on “Revising ‘Handplane Essentials’

  1. kssandefur

    I think this will be a very good book for reference. Cant wait to get my hands on a copy. Good luck on a Speedy Re-Edit!

  2. Shaun Harper

    Great news!
    Your article on block planes should be a good read. For a long time I have looked at this tool as a one handed plane. So many videos just show the plane set up for a very fine shaving often used along an edge. But when using it to put a wide bevel on a board or flatten an area, using my second hand just like any other plane makes the job so much easier.

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