In Chris Schwarz Blog, Handplane Techniques, Handplanes, Required Reading

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After being in and out of print during the last several years, David Finck’s “Making & Mastering Wood Planes” is finally available for sale again directly from the author.

This 192-page, full-color book isn’t just for the person who wants to build handplanes based on the designs of James Krenov. I read this book when it first came out and was impressed by how much Finck focused on the mechanics of the tools , things that apply to planes no matter what materials they are made of.

Reading this book will help you understand what makes a plane work well. And building one of the planes in this book (using Finck’s clear instructions) is a superb lesson in understanding handplanes. The simple act of making a plane will unlock tricks and secrets of the manufactured tools.

More than half the book is focused on using planes in your work: How to hold your stock. How to use the planes to dimension and surface wood. How to use jigs and aids to make your work more accurate. This section also applies to all plane users. Planes used for smoothing a carcase side work essentially the same , no matter if they are made of steel, bronze or wood.

When this book was in print, it was the primary book I recommended for people who actually wanted to use planes in their work. I had to stop recommending it when it fell out of print and became expensive on the used market. But now I can restate my affection for this title: If you like to use planes , and not just look at pretty pictures of them , this is a must-have book for your library.

Read more about the book (and buy it for $24.95) at David Finck’s web site.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 4 comments
  • Ron Boe

    I keep telling myself: Just stop reading these blogs! They cost you money!

    At least it isn’t a custom plane…… :^)

    Hope he has a chapter on hammer proofing a plane.

  • Swanz

    one of the best all around books on wood working hand tool use. I bought the original black and white version.The newer colored photo version is well worth it.

  • Patrick Secord

    I too have found Mr. Finck’s book a great read, and an even better instructional manual on the making and putting to use that which you made. I must have gotten one of the few of the last breed about 3 years back.
    I only wish some of the other great authors would (re)consider re-printing some of their gems as even the gently used and abused have become exorbitant on the used book market….(Mr Dunbar, if you’re out there, how about it? I would love to get a copy of "Make a Windsor Chair")

  • Casey Gooding

    I love this book. I bought it and have made multiple planes using the ideas in it. I agree that it’s really good at teaching how to use what you make.
    My only beef with it is the way building the plane is mixed with using tools. Five pages on building a plane, three pages of using other tools, one page of plane building, two pages of other tools. Kinda gave me vertigo after a while.
    Otherwise…it’s one of my favorites.


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