In Chris Schwarz Blog, Chris Schwarz Woodworking Classes, Handplane Techniques, Handplanes

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There are still some spots available in the class on handplanes that Thomas Lie-Nielsen and I are teaching in April at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. This is the only class I am teaching in 2009.

The weekend class is April 25-26 at the school, which is just south of Indianapolis. The class is fast paced because Thomas and I cover a lot of ground about the history, theory and use of handplanes. And students get plenty of hands-on time to put the lessons into practice on the excellent Lie-Nielsen cabinetmaker’s workbenches at the school.

Here, in a nutshell, are the major areas we cover.

– Handplane anatomy and geometry.
Thomas and I dissect the different types of bench planes and explain their differences and similarities. We also debate the practical differences between bevel-up and bevel-down planes. We also delve into the geometry of the tool and explain the trade-offs you’ll have to make with your angle of attack, the effort to use the tool and the amount of tear-out you’re experiencing.

– Sharpening. We show you what real (not theoretical) sharpening looks like in the shop. We take a new plane iron from the wrapper and prepare for use it in about five minutes. We also show you how to get a curved cutting edge (essential to bench plane work), and how to get extremely straight edges on your chisels and joinery plane irons. After the lecture, all the students put the knowledge to use by sharpening their own plane irons.

– Use. Learn to flatten a board with handplanes, whether it’s rough from the sawmill or fresh from an electric planer. We show you how to detect and remove twist and cupping from a board using historically accurate techniques. Then every student gets to put these principles into practice on their own board.

– Your questions. Every year, the students’ questions also fill up a significant amount of time. Some years we emphasize joinery planes. Other years we discuss moulding planes, specialty planes, tool maintenance, rust, manufacturing tolerances, rehabbing old tools, tools in the works at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and so forth.

– A Tour of the Toolworks. Thomas always brings a great video that shows how he makes his tools, from casting to polishing and assembly. He narrates the whole thing and takes questions as he goes. If you’ve ever wondered how your planes are made, you’ll find out. Plus Thomas is always happy to sign your tools. (And me, I’ll sign anything.)

The class is $300. You can register online at through this link or you can call 317-535-4013. You can learn more about the school and other excellent classes there through this link.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 4 comments
  • Gordon

    If you cannot get to the MASoW course, then I highly recommend A Lie-Neilsen Tool Event for those who are into the use of hand tools. I attended the LN Event in Sturbrige, MA and came away with new info in exposed (through)tenons, bench fixtures, dove tailing and tool sharpening in additiion to trying out various LN tools. As a result I have greatly improved my dovetails and noticed a significant improvement in hand planing. Also, there is plenty of FREE literature available to go with the experience. A can of neutral shoe polish applied to your tools is a great way to keep rust away and it also lubricates a plane surface for a smooth shaving. It is also good for your jointer bed.

    R/ Gordon

  • Ethan

    Looking forward to a two-day intensive course, Chris.

    Hopefully I’ll see you in a few months!

  • Christopher Schwarz


    The Lie-Nielsen event here in our offices is an open house with demos — not a curriculum. You’ll be able to ask all the questions of all the demonstrators that you want (and perhaps get all the data you need). And you’ll probably be able to get a little hands-on instruction.

    But it won’t be the same two-day intensive course.

    We’ll have more information on our web site in a month or so. It will be free and open to the public so it’s not like it could sell out.

    Hope this helps clear it up!

    Christopher Schwarz

  • Tom Cross


    This sounds like a great course. I will look into it.

    I noticed on the Lie-Nielsen site that there will be a Hand Tool Event at Popular Woodworking in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 16-17, 2009. How will this event differ from the Marc Adams school course. When will details on the Hand Tool Event be posted?

    All the best – Tom


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