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After hours and hours and hours of work (please, some kind soul, send Vodka), I was finally able to get “Handplane Essentials,” by Christopher Schwarz, into a PDF format that plays nice with all PDF-equipped eReaders.

The Boring Stuff
This is more information that you no doubt want, but the problem seems to be that the iPad doesn’t support the industry-standard picture compression format. And this is a big book. With a lot of pictures. That you need to be able to see. The usual workarounds work only on small files. (The iPad also doesn’t support Flash – another annoyance we’re trying to work on for other digital projects.) So anyway, I tried every trick the interwebs had to share, and still no joy.

But finally, I found an expert who could help (thank you Matt!). He sent me export settings that worked a treat, so I re-exported every one of the 314 pages, tested it six ways to Sunday, and I’m delighted to say that’s it’s now ready for prime time. (It’s also bookmarked, so if you’re reading it with Adobe Reader on your computer, you’ll be able to navigate the file quickly and easily).

The Exciting Stuff
The exciting stuff is inside “Handplane Essentials.” This was Christopher Schwarz’s brain dump of everything he’d written about handplanes up to just days before we sent it to the printer (with lots of eye-candy, too) – 10 years worth of:

• The Basics – Discover what the different planes do, why they have such crazy numbering systems  and how to figure out which planes you need for your shop. What’s the difference between bevel-up and bevel-down? Chris tells you. Plus, you’ll find out why even the most dedicated of power-tool users needs a few handplanes at the ready.

• Sharpening – This is the gateway skill to making your planes work well (and all your other edge tools, too). Chris shows you how to get to sharp fast (no matter what system you use) so you can get back to work. You’ll find information on grinding, lapping, the variety of honing guides and more. Plus, Chris’s quick and reliable way to sharpen scrapers.

• Techniques – Learn to use handplanes to flatten single boards, panels and even your benchtop with just three bench planes. You’ll also discover how to deal with challenges such as tear-out, plane tracks and end grain. Plus, you’ll find out how specialty planes work (plow, moving fillisters, chisel planes, routers, rabbets and many more) and how to set them up and use them to cut grooves, rabbets and other joints.

• History & Philosophy – Understanding the historical practice of plane use will make you a better user – even if you choose to reject the traditional methods. Plus, you’ll learn how to pick a good user from among the, er, decorative old planes at the flea market or antique store – because you’ll know how a good tool is made.

• Reviews – Find out which makers offer the best planes in a variety of price ranges – whether it’s a mass manufactured tool or a high-end custom tool, Chris has tried them all. And he got his hands on a few rare planes, the likes of which I’ll probably never get to see (except in these pictures).

Below, I’ve posted the Introduction and a few interior pages for your reading (and testing) pleasure. Enjoy! And if you like what you see, you can get this new digital edition of “Handplane Essentials” for the special introductory rate of just $26.99 through the end of June (the regular price is $34.99).




— Megan Fitzpatrick

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Showing 5 comments
  • Andrew Yang

    I’m a fan of lower prices too, but people should understand that price and cost are, more often than not, unrelated. I would guess there are additional drivers that dictate a higher price for the digital copy. For existing titles, it’s in the interest of the publisher to move the existing inventory. For new titles, they would need to meet a minimum print run to hit a reasonable cost per copy. With a dramatically lower digital copy price, it limits the ability to move existing inventory, and lessens the likelihood of selling through a reasonable percentage of a print run. Those would be my initial guesses anyway.

  • Mike890

    Hi Megan,
    I concur with altaylor with regard to the cost of the digital version of the book.

    I certainly can appreciate the work involved in conversion but that is all you have to do; just once and it is forever available on your servers. Yes I acknowledge that there is a cost to keeping it available but lets get real here, the cost is very very small.

    As an aside I live in New Zealand and have ordered books recently but the cost of shipping is very expensive (a $34 book costs $12 odd) and thats make it quite expensive. Whilst I am one for books the cost is one reason why I would take up the option of a digital copy but not at that cost.

    A suggestion for those that make those decisions….Something like $15 to $20 max would be more like it.

    Kind regards

  • altaylor

    Hi Megan,
    Lots of hard work in creating that digital file, and compatibility is an important feature for general marketing appeal.

    Please look at the following comment as constructive criticism, and just a little food for thought… Look at pricing the digital edition so its profit dollars per-unit matches the profit dollars for the physical edition. As it stands now I think your pricing for the digital edition is too high. Your ongoing COGS for the digital edition is so small that when you add on the required profit per unit to it, the price should be much lower. As it is today, I would buy the physical edition over the digital one as the price difference isn’t attractive enough to merit its purchase.

  • Andrew Yang

    Sorry Megan, you’re out of luck on the Grey Goose. Couldn’t find anyone that would ship or deliver…

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