Three Tips for the Hand Plane Owner


Introduction: Three Tips for the Hand Plane Owner

About: Mostly, I study chemistry but sometimes I work wood. Also, the game.

Hand planes are amazing tools that can teach you a lot if you're attentive to how they behave when you use them in a certain way. As many hand tools, they have been optimized through a sort of evolutionary process over centuries and the knowledge of previous craftsmen is embedded in their design. When you start understanding how to properly use them and you've got a good quality one with a sharp blade, the planing experience can become tremendously satisfying.

I am not a woodworking master by any means, and will not dare going into sharpening, blade alignment and micro bevel tuning.

So here are just a few tips I learned or figured out while planing a lot by hand this past month that I thought I should share!

Step 1: Effortless Gliding

Anyone who has planed a large surface by hand will now that it can get sweaty and tiring really fast.

A great way of reducing friction when using the plane is to simply rub the sole with the cheapest paraffin candle you can find.

Trust me, it makes a WORLD(did I emphasize that enough?) of difference.

Advantages include:

Less effort required to obtain the same results

More precise strokes

No staining of the work surface as oily compounds would

Try it and never go back :)

Step 2: Using the Plane As a Straightedge

Everything is in the title. This is the easiest way to ensure that you're working straight and flat and that your iron has no high or low spot, provided that your workpiece is not too big or you'll miss out on the big picture stuff.

In order to check for larger errors, a pair of winding sticks (google image link) can be very useful. They will tell you at a glance if you've been working out of square.

Disclaimer: the picture is not mine! I found it online.

Step 3: Prevent Rust and Protect the Blade

After a day of work, I spray a rag with WD40 and wipe the steel parts clean of fingerprints.

This will prevent rusting on those surfaces, which are crucial to the plane's precision!

Similarly, avoid touching the blade with your bare fingers.

I then fully retract the blade before storing the plane in VCI containing paper in a dry environment. I still have to build a proper plane cabinet..



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    10 Discussions

    also instead of using wd40 to prevent. give your plane a real good cleaning and the take good old johnsons paste wax and give it a good coating and polish it right up. works great plus it also doubles and waxing up the base to help it glide smoothly parifin was may work better but this works just fine for me.

    Never leave your plane on a not so dry board. It took an hour or so of lapping to get rid of the rust.

    3 replies

    Oh man, that sucks. Is that a veritas?

    Yes it is, and a good thing too. It has a thick sole, I probably can rust it out and lap it clean dozens of times ;) The blade suffered no damage, neither did the walnut.

    Good to know that the blade didn't rust... Yeah the veritas are amazing, I saved up for a low angle jack plane and never regretted it.

    Also get in the habit of laying your planes on their sides to protest the blade. You can use a square stick of wood to support the blade off of the surface of the storage shelf.

    4 replies

    That's a myth. It started in woodworking schools in the 1930s to prevent children from putting down the plane on metal objects, thereby damaging the blade. Assuming your workbench is made of wood, there's no harm in putting it upright. For more information, check out this link:

    Sorry but in my shop it is in the cabinet, or on it's side.

    The sellers article is good and full of common sense, as always with this guy.. I might start laying my plane down face first now...

    While it's true that wood won't damage the blade there's always the odd nail or scraper or ruler laying around.. Which you can avoid by being careful but better safe than sorry. Also, particles from sanding paper can be harder than the metal from the blade.