Chris Schwarz's Blog

Use the No. 95 Trimming Plane Upright?

I’ve always held the No. 95 edge-trimming plane like a block plane. The lever cap faces up to the sky. The fence of the No. 95 is then vertical.

So I was surprised to see a little tip in the February 1942 issue of The Woodworker (a U.K. woodworking magazine) that showed the plane being used in the opposite manner – the lever cap was vertical.

The text says the tool is “generally used with the wood lying flat on the bench” as shown in the illustration above.

“Huh,” I thought. “That looks odd.” So I tried it this morning.

It is odd. You have to use the plane with a sinister (left-handed) set-up on your bench, as shown in the illustration above and the video below. It feels weird, but not bad-weird. Just regular weird.

Perhaps this is the right way to use the plane, and I’ve been doing it wrong all these years. But I prefer to clamp the board in my face vise and plane the edge that way.

— Christopher Schwarz

Other Links Related to this Post
The Woodworker magazine has been around since 1901 (Charles H. Hayward was the editor for a long time). The magazine is still going. Check it out at getwoodworking.com

• Patrick Leach’s Blood & Gore site has a lot to say about the No. 95. Read all about it here.

• Are you a plane geek? I’m a plane geek, and I wrote a book about it called “Handplane Essentials.” It’s 312 pages of pure mainline handplane geekery. It would be a great gift for the geek in your life. And shipping is free in the United States. Check it out here.

16 thoughts on “Use the No. 95 Trimming Plane Upright?

  1. Mitch Wilson

    I finally had the opportunity to try this technique. I, too, am sinister. (Oh, and left-handed as well.) I have both edge planes from LV, and I am glad that I do, since sometimes the grain works against you and the planes do have a slight tendency to leave a little marring of the wood, which is not always advantageous. I was edge-trimming a piece of plywood all around, and it was too tall to use in my bench vice to trim the ends. Using this technique was great. I still used the bench vice for the longer side trimming, but I am rather short (shorter than Megan), so this is almost too high for me to do comfortably. But I am able to work ambidextrously, so it still works out. Thanks much for the tip and demonstration.
    Mitch Wilson

  2. neinfil

    This is interesting. I had sort of dismissed this plane from the huge list I needed, but flip it 90° and it’s kind of interesting as a stand in side rabbet plane and as shown. Like all tools mentioned here, I feel I need one now.

    I do see the weirdness issue though. As a southpaw myself, it isn’t truly lefty in use (righty-hand lefty-direction) More like a compromise for left/right hand users where everyone is left feeling a bit weird. If I got a LH version (LEFTIES THANK YOU LEE VALLEY), it would still have weirdness issues(Lefty-hand righty-direction) Is it ergonomic to use like a plow plane, or is it uncomfortable?

    In this orientation, this plane reminds me of another plane I don’t understand well, the snipes-bill. Could this be used as a stand-in?

  3. Tom Holloway

    Kelly’s comment is exactly what I thought–with the "bed" of the shooting board provided by the casting of the plane itself, and on top instead of underneath.

  4. Gary Roberts

    Ok, so the plane is held in the right hand, the board is arranged as if planing left handed and the pressure on the plane has to be applied from the side, using a different set of muscles as you would use if planing with the board held on edge.

    I guess that makes it an ambidextrous physical therapy plane? Interesting. Does it have something to do with the Atlantic Ocean separating the two countries?

    Gary

  5. Bill Melidones

    Sinister and weird. Never thought of myself that way.
    Well maybe weird.

    Disadvantaged, maybe. Especially since virtually all tools are made for the left brained.

  6. Derek Cohen

    Hi Chris

    It’s a choice between registration and downforce (on the blade).

    I prefer to use an edge plane as you do (not as in the video), where downforce can be exerted on the blade. This makes it easier to create an even shaving. However a while back I started using scratch stock with the focus on registration. This provides more control to ensure that the molding is formed evenly. I hope it OK to provide a link to demo this: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/ANewAngleOnScratchStock.html

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  7. Bob DeViney

    Hmm, always used my (sinister and dexter LV version of the) 95 to plan edges of boards. Will have to try that on end grain, as the illustration from Woodworking magazine shows.

  8. Sean

    You could use it right handed, if your bench weren’t pushed against a wall. Out in the middle of the shop, you can set up on all sides. Pluses and minuses …

  9. John Cashman

    I have also always used it in this manner, not with the lever cap facing up. It’s fascinating how different minds work.

  10. Cosmo

    Thanks Chris. I’ve read folks suggest it’s good practice to stick to one orientation with this plane – it’s so easy to make the mistake of planing the wrong surface!

    Cosmo

  11. Matt Cianci

    Chris

    Very interesting….the way in the pic is how I have always used mine (I ahve the veritas version of the 95).

    It seemed intuitive to me…and it allows you to use your body weight to register the fence to the work more securely, which in my experience, is the most important aspect of using the tool. Used lever cap up, the tendancy of the plane biting into the wood is great enough to pull the sole out of square, negating the entire purpose of the tool.

    Funny though….I guess this is one time where I started out doing something the right way first!

  12. Chris Shepherd

    I prefer to use it in the orientation shown in the picture, especially for very long boards or wide glue ups. My face vise is not very good, so maybe that might explains my preference. I also us it to trim undersized dados in this orientation because I do not have a 98/99 side trim plane.

  13. Peter Baines

    I hope, Mr Schwarz that you are not labelling all us lefties as sinister.

    For many years we have fought to shake off the old prejudices burdened upon us. We just want to be accepted as valuable contributors to society and be afforded the same rights as everyone else, without persecution. Whether that is in the way we put ink to paper, or indeed how we decide to use a trimming plane.

  14. Don Peregoy

    I find some times – it works best if its pulled. This would be on a partly assembled project. I got the right one to fix a mistake (why I own many of the tools I do ). It was so handy I got the left one.

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