The Dovetail Diaries

The advancement of one man's woodworking skills.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hand Plane 101

My wood plane technique has developed by watching Renaissance Woodworker videos along with the clumsy fumbling that is often referred to as 'experience'.  Those of you who read my earlier posts on the Shaker side table may have realized how surprised I was at the results of my efforts.  I simply did not expect it to work as well as it did.  Even though I was pleasantly surprised, I wasn't quite satisfied with the results.  I'm always looking for a way to do something better, faster or more efficiently and this is no exception.

I figured that I had a couple of choices to help improve my knowledge of plane usage, and since Roy Underhill wouldn't return my calls I decided to purchase one of Christopher Schwarz's videos on hand plane usage.  It was a tossup between "Handplane Basics" , "Building Furniture With Hand Planes", and "Coarse, Medium, and Fine".  After considering the description of each video, I ordered "Handplane Basics: A Better Way to Use Bench Planes".

The video is 71 minutes long and promises that after watching you'll know how to select the proper plane for the job, sharpen the iron appropriately, and use the plane properly to make "perfectly flat and gleaming panels".  In my opinion, it delivers on all three promises.

Different types of bench planes are discussed and viewers are instructed on how both the length and width of a plane affects its usage. Christopher relates the three basic functions of a plane and how a particular plane and iron combination would work better for each function. 

Christopher also demonstrates how to true all six sides of a board.  I don't know why, but it was a surprise to see that the ends of the board were trued using a plane and shooting  board.  It may be obvious to an experienced hand plane user, but I hadn't even considered using the plane for this, instead using my table saw and crosscut sled.  I blame Norm.  (Just kidding!)

I've been trying to decide which plane to purchase next, a long plane for jointing, or a better smoothing plane than the Dunlap 3DBB that I'm currently using.  Thanks to this video I've decided that the next plane will be a long plane or jointer-sized plane, probably a Lie-Neilsen No. 8.

In my opinion this video was very informative and answered many of my questions.  Some things were covered that I hadn't even thought of yet.

In the end it reinforced the need for a good workbench. And a shooting board.  The workbench will have to wait until after my back-ordered copy of  Schwarz's 'Workbenches' arrives, but I'm already scouting scrap material for a shooting board.

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