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stop shavings

Making “stop shavings” – where the plane cuts only one part of the board – is one of the keys to better edge joints and lots of other handplane techniques.

But few people in my hand-tool classes have ever been told how to do it right.

Most people do it like they are taking off on a runway. They start pushing the tool where the cut should begin and then lift the plane off the board when they get to the point where they want the plane to stop cutting.

Sometimes this technique works; sometimes it leaves a stepped cut in the wood that looks bad or won’t allow the edge joint to close.

The best technique I’ve learned goes like this:

  1. Place the plane on the wood where you want the cut to begin. Push it forward with no downward pressure at first. As the tool starts moving, begin to add downward pressure until it’s like a normal planing stroke.
  2. When you get to the point where you want the plane to stop cutting, do not lift the entire tool from the wood. Instead, lift the tote only. Let the toe of the plane continue to touch the wood until the cut ceases. Then lift the entire tool off the wood.

Try it. I think you’ll find that you can make a smooth start and stop to your cuts.

— Christopher Schwarz


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Showing 6 comments
  • jeff_

    Thank you for sharing this tip. I did not know this.

  • Alex

    I was just making some stopped shavings this weekend using the runway technique and sure enough I was getting those steps so a final pass was needed over the full length to clean it up. Makes me feel silly as lifting the rear of the plane make so much more sense.

  • wtpacker

    Aha! Paul Sellers’ way.

  • Barquester

    I just quit sharpening the blade. Works like a charm.

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