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

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There are still some spots open in the woodworking classes I’m teaching this winter. If you’ve recently come into a little money (thank you First National Bank of the Plasma) and have a little time available, here are some details on these classes.

Handplanes and Workbenches

Feb. 26 at the Woodcraft in Alpharetta, Ga. (suburban Atlanta).

This is a lecture-style class designed so I can dump any and all information I have on handplanes into any available skull. We’re covering and demonstrating everything, from grinding and honing up to the finer points of removing tear-out.

We’ll cover all the edge geometry of bevel-up and bevel-down planes so you can choose the right tool for you. I’ll present the basic kit of handplanes that woodworkers need to build furniture (it’s much smaller than you think), including bench planes, joinery planes and moulding planes. I’ll show you how to set up all of these planes and put them to use (the bench planes and joinery planes in particular are very different).

And, most importantly, there will be plenty of time for questions so you can get answers to personal and specific questions. Should I buy a bevel-up jack plane for the work I do? What honing angle should I use on a plow plane? What are the differences between the premium plane makers and vintage tools?

And finally, because you cannot easily use a plane without a decent workbench, I’m going to show you how the workbench evolved from a rock up to its most perfect form in the 18th century and then de-volved into something that makes me want to work on a rock instead. We’ll show how the workholding on these benches has changed and discuss how you can modify your bench so it is optimized for planing.

Handplane Weekend with Thomas Lie-Nielsen

April 24-25 at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking

I’ve assisted Thomas Lie-Nielsen with this class for five years now and never get tired of teaching it. The two days are always a blast because the students are always an interesting sort, bring along lots of fascinating tools to the class and ask really tough questions.

And, best of all, this class is hands-on. The Marc Adams School of Woodworking has some great workbenches that make this class really work.

During the two days, Thomas and I discuss everything related to handplanes. Bring your sharpening equipment. If you struggle with sharpening, this is your chance to put that behind you. By the end of the first morning Tom, the assistants and I have everyone creating cutting edges that could split an atom.

We go deep into plane theory and boil it down so you can understand how the steel in your plane should encounter the wood so you get the result you desire. Hint: It’s as much about understanding wood as it is understanding tools.

We discuss set-up and then applying bench planes to the work and how to flatten stock by hand, even if you are beginning with a rough board. (Most planing classes skip this important step). Then we get into joinery planes and scrapers.

All the while, Thomas answers questions about toolmaking and even discusses some of the tools coming down the pike (last year he showed off his nice bench hardware). He narrates a movie about the toolworks , it’s different every year , and shows how he makes the tools.

And we wrap things up with a contest to get a board completely dead flat using the techniques shown here. There are valuable prizes at stake.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 2 comments
  • Darrell Snodgrass


    do you teach any classes locally? I saw you have one in Berea in October but it is full.

    Darrell Snodgrass
    Erlanger, KY

  • Norm Reid

    Well, the appeal worked. A friend and I have signed up for the class with you and Thomas Lie-Nielsen. It should be fascinating and I am really looking forward to it.


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