Chris Schwarz's Blog

Planing Long Edges

This week I’m building the sitting bench for the White Water Shaker community; the bench will be featured in the Winter 2009 issue of Woodworking Magazine. The version I’m building is a very close copy, so it will be 13′ long. The version we’ll show in the magazine will be 4′ long (who really needs a 13′-bench, after all?).

Dealing with long stuff is a challenge, so I thought I’d post a couple movies during the next week that demonstrate some of the tricks to doing it well.

In this short clip, shot and narrated by Megan Fitzpatrick, I’m planing the long edge of what will become one of the bench’s narrow aprons.

The trick, I think, is to keep the plane tucked against your body and lean forward. This allows you some forgiveness if you hesitate while you walk forward. If you do hesitate, you can push your arms forward as you recover your step to continue the smooth planing action uninterrupted.

Using this stance, I can plane any distance that I can walk.

If words don’t do it for you, check out the clip above. And do note my profound lack of a backside in the film. I’m going to have to save up for some implants or something.


15 thoughts on “Planing Long Edges

  1. John Walker

    I doubt your Grandpa was a thief! Maybe he bought the tools used. Maybe it was policy to leave the original owner’s name on any tools and add your own name too.

    I like the new gauge. This type does make a nice, clear-cut mark; which is why, over the pond, we call them a ‘cutting gauge’ as opposed to the ‘marking-gauge’ which is the one with scratchy, pointy nail!

    Have fun. Nice tools.
    John Walker

  2. Bob Demers

    just watch the other version with the alternate audio, its a hoot!

    Keep up the good work, you guys are very entertaining


  3. Mitchell

    Here is the problem I have with this, Chris.

    I live in a condo and have one bedroom turned into a "boy’s room". You took five steps in total to plane the edge of that board. In my shop, you would have been in the hall after three and in the kitchen by the fifth.

    My shop max is 4′, so maybe if I took baby steps…


  4. Sandy Navas

    We all knew you didn’t mean 13" bench . . . my backside wouldn’t fit that one. Typo-catcher!!

  5. Anders Malm

    Love the that lifted foot in the beginning a la Monty Pythons Silly Walking. Always knew that you guys also were fans.

  6. Steve


    You have such a mellow, soothing, radio-announcer-narration voice; you ought to do voice work for nuclear power plants and such: "The reactor core will melt down in three minutes and forty-three seconds. Please evacuate now."

  7. Patrick Secord

    I am intrigued by the foot in the air thing. I have seen canines doing something alike, but curiously they were not planing boards.

  8. Megan

    Who knew?! Chris can walk up walls! (He didn’t fit in the camera frame in the horizontal – perhaps he’s wearing my planing platforms?)

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