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Look around your neighborhood. The next time you see a truck belonging to a contractor or cabinetmaker, there’s a good chance that the company uses a handplane in its logo.

Though the image of a plane is the mark of the craftsman, there are few craftsmen who really know how to use the tool. Has this knowledge been lost? Are the tools simply obsolete?

The truth is that neither statement is true. The handplane is the most advanced and cunning wood-cutting tool ever invented, and it has yet to be surpassed by anything with a power cord. After World War II, handplanes began to disappear from shops because we traded speed for skill and expediency for quality.

But now the pendulum is swinging the other way. Modern toolmakers have revived the planemaking industry and are turning out quality tools the like of which haven’t been sold for 100 years. Woodworkers are discovering that these tools are fast, satisfying to use and produce remarkably crisp work.

“Handplane Essentials” aims to get you started. Inside these pages is the knowledge you need to choose the right handplanes for your shop, set them up correctly and put them to use building furniture for a lifetime. “Handplane Essentials” contains everything you need to choose the right tool for your budget and project, take it out of the box, sharpen it and use it successfully. The chapters in this book have been compiled from more than 10 years of my writings on the subject of handplanes in magazines, trade journals and blogs.

And it’s a sizable book , 312 pages , and printed on high-quality paper. The hundreds of photos in the book have been sepia-toned, just like the photos in Woodworking Magazine (our sister publication). The book is hardbound, covered in black cloth with a copper embossing and a heavy full-color dust jacket. And , best of all , the book is produced and printed entirely in the United States. Here’s what you’ll find inside:

Learn what the different handplanes are used for. Decode their crazy numbering system so you can focus instead on what each tool does. And figure out what specific planes you need in your shop.

Learning to hone your cutters to a keen edge is the secret to getting your planes to work. “Handplane Essentials” shows you how to get this done no matter what sort of sharpening system you use now.

Learn how to flatten individual boards, panels and even enormous tabletops with just a few bench planes. Learn to use specialty planes to cut grooves, rabbets and other joints.

History & Philosophy
If you understand historical practice, you’ll be a better handplane user , even if you choose to reject the traditional methods. Learn to pick a well-made old tool based on how it is made.

Find out who makes the best high-quality tool, whether it’s a $50 plane from India or a $5,000 plane custom-made by a machinist in Scotland. I’ve tried them all.

The book is at the printer now and will be in stock during the first week of August. If you order before July 31, you’ll receive a discount of 20 percent off the regular price of $34.99. That means the book will be $27.99 , plus free shipping.

After July 31, the book will be $34.99 (though shipping will still be free).

To read more or place your order, click here. To download an excerpt of the book in pdf format, the link below.

2-CoarseMediumFine.pdf (3.16 MB)

– Christopher Schwarz

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  • Wayne Miller


    I received your new book a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for doing all the homework for me. Your book has given new life to my handplanes, and given me better work techniques. I appreciate the fact that you offered options to handplane techniques, and did not assert there was only one "right" way to setup and use handplanes.

    I’m glad you brought up the discussion about whether it is better to lay a plane on it’s side, or it’s sole, when not using it.

    Here is my two cents, based on speculation, and not on facts or a crystal ball: The investment in a nice handtool, for the craftsman who desired to make a living using them, was not a minor expense, either in the 1800’s or today. Given that, if I wanted to protect my investment, I would always place the plane on it’s sole. If I then knocked it with a piece of stock, or an elbow, it would not slide very far. If it were on it’s side, without the blade to bite into the bench, it may slide right off the bench. Hence, Miller’s Theorem on tha side/sole debate. As I said, it’s worth about two cents.

    Thanks again for the wonderful reference for my woodworking library.


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