Chris Schwarz's Blog

Thanks, Mr. Dead Guy

I
don’t get to read much fiction anymore, but I do read old woodworking
books almost every night (last night I finished the potboiler “Cabinet
Construction” (1937) edited by the great J.C.S. Brough). And the reason I
keep reading these books – even basic ones – is that there are gems to
be found.

Several
years ago I stumbled on a tip for planing a board by hand that I use
all the time in the shop. I’ve only seen it repeated a couple other
times in older texts, so I’m going to repeat it here.

Sometimes
when you are handplaning a board with a hollow you reach the point
where you are going to have to work for a long time and perhaps thin the
board too much to get at the low spot. If the area is in an area of the
board that doesn’t have joinery, or if it is on the show face of the
board (and its flatness isn’t critical), here’s what you do.

Lift
the board off the bench and place a few shavings on the bench below the
hollow. Secure the board again with your end vise and try planing
again. This will usually help you get at that hollow in a pass or two.

I also keep some really thin offcuts to place under a board that has a slight bow, as shown in the photo above.

— Christopher Schwarz

• This blog entry is brought to you by “Handplane Essentials,”
the book I wrote a couple years ago that was a big old brain dump on
this tool. Now I have more room in my skull so I can concentrate on
collecting Hummels. I still really like this book. It’s big. It’s
printed in the United States. And it has a lot of good tips on planing.
You can get it in our store, with free shipping in the domestic United States.

5 thoughts on “Thanks, Mr. Dead Guy

  1. karl pell

    for the dullards at the fringe of the crowd … what was your original purpose in planing the stock?

    I’ve certainly read more about hand planing than I’ve planed and the persistent objective seems to be "flat" and "straight".

    I suspect that your intent here is simply to "dress" the stock (" … doesn’t have joinery, or if it is on the show face of the board (and its flatness isn’t critical …"), but, inexperienced as I am, I’d prefer not to guess.

  2. Chuck Nickerson

    This tip requires us to get past the idea that every board must be flat everywhere.

    Getting there sure trims the time on some hand-tool-only projects.

  3. Mike

    Handplane Essentials was brilliant Chris; I finished it a couple weeks ago and have a hole note card of things to try in the shop when opportunity rears its head. I now have another little trick to try out. Thanks for the book and the post. If you keep them coming I will keep giving them a whirl.

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