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The first handplane I ever bought was a Popular Mechanics block plane I purchased one night at Wal-Mart. There was no blade-adjustment mechanism. No adjustable mouth. And the iron was so soft that it might actually have been made of iron (instead of steel). The tool was a bona-fide piece of junk.

As I set out to use the plane on a project I expected to be frustrated. (That’s the way the story usually goes, don’t you know.) But surprisingly, the plane actually worked, and I can remember clearly using it to trim some apron pieces flush on a low sitting bench I was making. One of the shavings was like gossamer; and at that moment, I was hooked on planes.

Like many woodworkers, I became as obsessed with creating those shavings as I did with the tools that made them. No matter what plane I bought, I fussed and fussed with it until it made those magical .001″-thick


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