Now Available: More Reviews on Hand Tools | Popular Woodworking Magazine
 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Required Reading

For the last three years, I’ve been writing a column on modern hand tools for the Fine Tool Journal, an excellent quarterly publication out of Pownal, Maine. The Journal is a thick slice of hand tool heaven with articles about long-forgotten ways of working, vanished corporate tool-making empires, vintage power machinery and old tools for sale.

Editor Clarence Blanchard and his staff also run Brown Auction Services, and so the Fine Tool Journal includes listings of auction items and tools you can buy with just a phone call or e-mail. The prices are quite reasonable.

For my part, I write reviews of modern tools and profiles of their makers. And now, Clarence has graciously agreed to allow me to post the older articles on, an online hand-tool magazine run by the industrious Wiktor Kuc.

If you haven’t been a visitor to WKFineTools or the site (its sister site), visit now and bookmark it. There is a wealth of writing there. People sharing their experiences with hand tools, old catalogs of tools you can download for free, some plans for projects, plus links to other valuable resources for the hand-tool user.

This week, Wiktor has posted my story about scrub planes. This article compares the two modern versions available: The Lie-Nielsen and the Veritas. But that part of the article isn’t what gets people’s blood boiling. It’s the theory of mine that scrub planes are more of a carpentry tool than they are for fine furniture-making. I’ve discussed that theory a bit here on the weblog, but this is the full-on crackpot theory.

Many thanks to Wiktor and Clarence for allowing us to republish these stories. We have about 10 more in the works right now for the coming weeks, including in-depth profiles of saw maker Mike Wenzloff and Konrad Sauer, the planemaker behind Sauer & Steiner. So check back.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 3 comments
  • Christopher Schwarz


    I’ve used an ECE scrub before and it’s a blast to use — just like the two metal planes I reviewed. Of course, the biggest problem with the scrub (any scrub) is it’s too easy to too far. And that’s why I use my No. 5 or No. 6 for precision heavy-stock removal. The length of the sole is an asset.


  • Roy Griggs

    I am looking forward to the reprinted articles from Fine Tool Journal; having only recently had the old tool ephipany, I’m sure I missed most of them the first time around.
    A scrub plane, in my opinion is perhaps the most enjoyable of planes to use. No fiddling, no fussing, just let’er rip. I often use my #40 1/2 when the stock removal could as easily be done in a more controlled manner with my #5 1/2, simply for the joy of usage.
    Having helped a little to get Wiktor’s fine site going, it is nice to see that his work is being recognised and appreciated. I look forward to the fine journalistic talents that you have shown in PWW and WWM and also on your blogs. Your participation in WKFineTools and OldToolsShop can only improve the content of what is presented there.

  • Karl Rookey

    I just re-read your article on scrub planes (which was just posted on wkfinetools) and wanted to share a great blended application of the scrub plane or fore plane. In your article, you mention that you use scrub planes and fore planes to dimension boards that are too large for the jointer. You didn’t mention (though I suspect you might have done this before) that once the board is dimensioned with a fore plane, it needn’t be smoothed by hand. It can be run through the power planer, effectively preventing the small shop owner from wishing he had a 12" jointer table: his scrub or fore plane allows him to joint using his much less expensive planer and without building and fiddling with a jointing sled.


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