In Shop Blog, Techniques, Tools

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Look around your neighborhood. The next time you see a truck belonging to a contractor or cabinetmaker, there’s a good chance that the company uses a handplane in its logo.

Though the image of a plane is the mark of the craftsman, there are few craftsmen who really know how to use the tool. Has this knowledge been lost? Are the tools simply obsolete?

The truth is that neither statement is true. The handplane is the most advanced and cunning wood-cutting tool ever invented, and it has yet to be surpassed by anything with a power cord. After World War II, handplanes began to disappear from shops because we traded speed for skill and expediency for quality.

But now the pendulum is swinging the other way. Modern toolmakers have revived the planemaking industry and are turning out quality tools the like of which haven’t been sold for 100 years. Woodworkers are discovering that these tools are fast, satisfying to use and produce remarkably crisp work.

“Handplane Essentials” aims to get you started. Inside these pages is the knowledge you need to choose the right handplanes for your shop, set them up correctly and put them to use building furniture for a lifetime. “Handplane Essentials” contains everything you need to choose the right tool for your budget and project, take it out of the box, sharpen it and use it successfully. The chapters in this book have been compiled from more than 10 years of my writings on the subject of handplanes in magazines, trade journals and blogs.

And it’s a sizable book , 312 pages , and printed on high-quality paper. The hundreds of photos in the book have been sepia-toned, just like the photos in Woodworking Magazine. The book is hardbound, covered in black cloth with a copper embossing and a heavy full-color dust jacket. And , best of all , the book is produced and printed entirely in the United States. Here’s what you’ll find inside:

Learn what the different handplanes are used for. Decode their crazy numbering system so you can focus instead on what each tool does. And figure out what specific planes you need in your shop.

Learning to hone your cutters to a keen edge is the secret to getting your planes to work. “Handplane Essentials” shows you how to get this done no matter what sort of sharpening system you use now.

Learn how to flatten individual boards, panels and even enormous tabletops with just a few bench planes. Learn to use specialty planes to cut grooves, rabbets and other joints.

History & Philosophy
If you understand historical practice, you’ll be a better handplane user , even if you choose to reject the traditional methods. Learn to pick a well-made old tool based on how it is made.

Find out who makes the best high-quality tool, whether it’s a $50 plane from India or a $5,000 plane custom-made by a machinist in Scotland. I’ve tried them all.

The book is now in stock. The cost is $34.99, and shipping is free.

To read more or place your order, click here. To download an excerpt of the book in pdf format, the link below.

2-CoarseMediumFine.pdf (3.16 MB)

– Christopher Schwarz

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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Showing 26 comments
  • Christopher Schwarz


    Yes, we ship all over the world. You can check the rates by adding it to your basket and proceeding right up to the last step of checking out.

    Hope this helps.


  • Roger Mawby

    Hi There,
    I’ve just stumbled across your site and I am interested in your book to be published shortly. The only problem is I live in the UK. Will you accept an order from the UK?

    Best Regards,

    Roger Mawby

  • Gene O'Rourke

    Chris has the Table of Contents and Introduction available for download on the Lost Art Press blog, here:

  • Ray Stericker

    Glad to see you are publishing another book. It will be great to have all the information you have published on the subject pulled together into one place.

    I enjoyed the sample chapter but given that it is a compilation, would it be possible to publish the table of contents? I would be interested to see how much of it I already have in my library before I decided to purchase the book.


  • Steve Branam

    Any articles on shoulder planes in the book? I’m getting much better with bench planes (and you get part of the credit!), but I haven’t had much luck with my Stanley shoulder planes. In any of the books I have, they are just mentioned briefly. I would love to see a practical in-depth article on their setup and use.

  • Bjenk

    I’ll be waiting to buy a signed copy on Lost Art Press!

    Thanks again for this offer Chris! Try to coax Adam to do something like that too on Lost Art Press! It would be a hit!

  • Christopher Schwarz


    We’re working on the pre-order thing at Lost Art Press. Our shopping cart software might not allow it. I know, I know. Old school.

    But we don’t want to charge credit cards until we can ship.

    The book will be in my hands to sell the first week in August, same as with F+W and Lee Valley.


  • Jason Barren


    I want to buy an autographed copy from Lost Art Press. Will you have a "pre-order" option available there? If not, do you know the date in August it will be available?


  • Christopher Schwarz


    I do not know the details of our international shipping. Please drop a line to Laura Price,, and she can assist you with your question.


  • Alan Ennis

    Chris, what is the story with shipping outside the US, specifically to Ireland?

  • garth keel

    Pay a little more so the author gets a little more. CS gives me information I can trust; even if I do not always agree 100%. (98%) AN autographed copy w/be best

  • Christopher Schwarz


    The abrasive grit from sanding will probably wear your iron a little bit faster, but here’s how I deal with it:

    I brush or blow off the surface with compressed air thoroughly after sanding. That minimizes any problems. It’s not really a big deal unless you lave lots of loose grit and it is really coarse.

    And the worst thing that can happen (really) is that you’ll need to sharpen your iron sooner.


  • mdhills

    Enjoyed the sample chapter. I wanted to ask about the last section on mixing hand tools with power tools. I’d previously read somewhere that it wasn’t a good idea to plane a surface after sanding, as sanding tended to leave residual abrasives that could scratch/wear a plane more quickly. Is this a myth, exaggeration, or something you deal with?


  • Christopher Schwarz


    This "Handplane Essentials" book is a joint project. I’ll be selling autographed copies of this books through my web site at in August.

    Buying a book directly from me will put more money in the coffers of Lost Art Press so we can spend it on more foolhardy public-service projects (such as reprinting Joseph Moxon). And beer and Indian food.

    However, buying it from F+W or Lee Valley (which also will be carrying it) is also an excellent way to go in my book. F+W pays my salary and funds this blog (another public service). And Lee Valley… what more do I need to say about Lee Valley? They get a lot of my money and should get more of it.

    Hope this helps answer your question.


  • Gene O'Rourke


    This looks like it will be a great reference and, based on past experience, an enjoyable read.

    I’m curious about part of the publishing process. Above, you link us to the "Woodworker’s Bookshop," which is PopWood’s storefront. Does that mean that this book is published under the PopWood imprint, as opposed to Lost Art Press? What factors go into that decision? Do you own the rights to your material, or does it have to do with the fact that you wrote a lot of it while on F&W’s (PW and WWM’s publisher) nickel?

    Or is it just a question of the subject matter? For instance, I would expect your rewrite of the 1839 fiction piece to be a no-brainer for the Lost Art label.

    One last question: Of the three initial sources for the book, which one puts the most money in your own pocket? I realize that may be prying a bit. But since we’re going to be spending the money anyway, most of us would probably like to see you get the most out of it.

    A lot of questions there, but this stuff fascinates me. Maybe the publishing process would be a good topic for a future post or article.


  • naomi

    Chris (i hope it’s ok that i address you by your first name), i just wanted to congratulate you on another book. I think your writing skills are superb and that, in addition to the wood working techniques and your general philosophy is what makes your books such a pleasure to read and reread.
    Dan Sayler–well-said. I think it’s very important to support the actual authors of books, and, as you pointed out, especially when so many of us have benefited from this blog. As for compilations, if you pick up any ‘academic’ book, it’s essentially a compilation of past articles, and the authors are always upfront about that.
    Chris–i raise my glass of Duvel–Op uw Gezondheid!

  • Bruce Jackson

    Jim, who wants to feel …

    Dude, I’ve done just about enough karate, boxing exercises, cycling, working out with weights, and working in my yard and garden, as well as planing, sawing, and chiseling, to know that to feel myself doing any of the above is one thing. To write or read about the feel just does not translate for me until I try it out for myself. It’s only now that I begin to understand why my dad used to laugh at me for wanting to learn everything from books. Some things just can’t be written or read about, but you really gotta feel it for yourself to learn it.

    Anyway, hope this helps get Chris off the hook, about not writing how it "feels" to plane…

  • Jim

    Book ordered – Now a discussion thread that I had hoped would be in the book – is the relationship of the bench surface, the board and the plane.
    Were talking "feel" here.
    You once commented that you knew it was time to level your bench because the board was not responding as expected.
    That is what need to be passed on to users. The "feel" of the act of planning with the bench, wood & plane working together.

    Thanks for all your efforts,

  • Dan Sayler


    "Why pay "X" when it’s cheaper elsewhere?" Because I would think that Mr. Schwarz gets just a bit better taste of the profit of the sale when bought directly from him and I personally would rather throw him a well deserved gratuity for all the free (to us) blog info and whatnot than to send it to the shareholders at Amazon.

    I’m sure most if not all of us would gladly stand him a Belgian ale if given the opportunity so why not consider this you chance? Buy the man a jar . . .


  • Christopher Schwarz


    Amazon won’t have the book for seven months. It will be sold exclusively through F+W, Lee Valley and Lost Art Press for six months after it is released. At least that is what the marketing people tell me.


  • Mike

    Book sounds interesting but why pay $27.99 or $34.99 when Amazon is already offering the book for $24.99?

  • Christopher Schwarz


    Absolutely zero percent of it is spanking brand new content (except the editor’s note).

    It is a compilation of all the reviews and technique articles I’ve written for:

    1. Popular Woodworking magazine
    2. Woodworking Magazine
    3. The Fine Tool Journal
    4. My blog at Woodworking Magazine
    5. My blog at Lost Art Press
    6. Lee Valley’s newsletter
    7. The Popular Woodworking web site

    I have revised and combed over the information so all the pieces fit together. Every story has been altered in some way so that redundencies are eliminated and holes are filled. But will you find an entire new opus of hand plane information?

    No. Not until they clone me.

    Hope this helps.


  • Bob Winter

    What plane is that on the cover?
    Stanley #603 with a Hock blade?

  • Kevin Kuehl

    How much of the material in the book is new/fresh? I don’t mean any offense, but my experience with many of these types of "books" is they are little more than reformatted versions of already published magazine articles. Specifically (or maybe selfishly :->), if I already have the Best of Christopher Schwarz CD and the Lie-Nielsen DVDs, am I going to find much fresh material in this book?

  • Greg Humphrey

    I just placed my order, and am anxiously awaiting delivery in August.

  • Luke Townsley

    I’m looking forward to reading this one.

    It should be an interesting read and a great book for beginning hand tool users.

    Unfortunately, it will probably make the price of used planes go up even higher…

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