Blog — Hand Planes RSS



Something Wild and Free

  After extolling the virtues of metal planes a few months ago, I began to wonder if I had truly given wooden planes their due. I have had a hard time finding usable wooden planes locally, and so in a fit of curiosity I emailed Joshua to see if he could put a set of wooden bench planes together for me to use in the shop. I had a good excuse. As part of an article I’m writing for Mortise & Tenon issue four I’ll be re-creating some pre-industrial techniques as part of a build and I wanted to limit myself to working with the tools that would have been available to the original craftsmen. Wooden planes fit the bill...

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Ask M&T: “What is a Fore Plane?”

  Mike and I just posted a new installment of our YouTube series: “Ask M&T”. In this video, we cover one of the most frequent questions we get online or at shows: What is a fore plane? Mike recounts his early struggles with hand tools using a little block plane to remove bulk material and eventually realized he was using the wrong tool for the job. What he needed was the coarse roughing tool called a fore plane. In this video, we explain why we believe this tool is absolutely essential for every hand-tool woodworker.  We then touch on the history of the terms “fore” plane, “jack” plane, and “scrub” plane and explain our preference for the wooden version. There...

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Wilding’s Fore Plane Highly Recommended

A little while back, wooden planemaker, Jeremiah Wilding contacted me to get some feedback on a plane he was developing. He had been fine tuning a “Yankee” style fore plane and wondered if I could give it a test run. This plane was a joy to use. Because of the precision of his workmanship and the lack of warpage (from a century of neglect) this plane adjusted easily and predictably—a luxury not every antique plane offers. Wilding explained that the “Yankee” style planes lacked carved eyes and had rounded edge chamfers and flat end chamfers. It’s a simple and classy look that I quite like. The plane Jeremiah sent me was made of maple and was 15-3/4” long with a...

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Why I Converted to Wooden Hand Planes

In a recent blog post I mentioned how our content editor, Jim McConnell, and I have agreed to engage in a friendly discussion on the blog about metal-bodied and wooden hand planes. In that post, Jim explained some of the reasons that he prefers metal-bodied planes. We aren’t here to make this topic controversial and adversarial. That’s the stupid kind of stuff that happens on forums. This is just plain ol’ honest discussion. Here's my take: I was trained on metal-bodies planes at the luthiery school I attended. We learned the setup, adjustment, and use of these high-performance tools. Even though my introduction to planing was with new high-end examples, after I graduated from the program, I fixed up a few...

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You're So Metal

Editor's Note: Jim and I have been discussing metal-bodied vs. wooden hand planes and agreed to have an open discussion on the matter here on the blog. Here's Jim's take. One of the driving passions behind Mortise & Tenon Magazine is the exploration of efficient pre-industrial woodworking techniques in the hope that we can share that information with others. We realize that we sometimes sound like evangelists and we’re ok with that. We really are trying to share the good news of rough secondary surfaces and set people free from the law of machine tolerances. With that in mind I sometimes feel like a bit of a hypocrite when I admit that the planes I choose for my own personal work...

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How To Restore A Hand Plane

  There is nothing like being able to tune-up an antique hand plane to put it work like it was meant to but sometimes folks are unsure about how to properly and carefully restore them without ruining their value and character. In this new YouTube video above, I share my minimalistic and pragmatic approach to restoring the hand planes found in second hand stores. I deal with general cleaning, restoring the finish on the wooden handles, sharpening the iron, and basic setup for planing. This 20-minute video is aimed at giving a good introduction without overwhelming you with minutia. Enjoy! Subscribe to our YouTube channel if you would like to see more of this kind of content! For more info on...

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Why Do People Love Hand Planes?

    What is it about the hand plane that draws people into woodworking? What is it about that block of wood with an iron that connects with woodworkers at such a visceral level? I think about this question a lot when I’m working in the shop because there are days when it seems I just need to shape wood – as if it’s some sort of therapy or something. The feeling of satisfaction that comes from using such a simple tool to work the lumber must be something rooted in us at the deepest level. Creativity, I think, is something rooted in our humanity. We were all made to work with our hands. But also, to lose touch with...

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