Hand Planes - A Surprise Pleasure

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Blog entry by Russel posted 06-07-2008 09:09 PM 1183 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I was a youngster in what they now refer to as “mid-century”, my father had a hand plane. I had no idea what kind and no idea what it was supposed to be used for, but I used it to shape my PineWood Derby car for my cub scouts race. (In case you’re wondering, I didn’t win, place or show. Just barely made it down the track.)

Until recently, that was my only experience with a hand plane. Since hanging about LumberJocks I’ve read all kinds of stuff about the joy of hand tools. It all seemed fascinating, but I wasn’t sure I was ready. Still, the number of folks singing the praises of planes and scrapers and chisels prodded me to eventually purchase a few starter tools.

The chisels were pretty easy. Especially when I figured out how to sharpen them. The card scraper I have yet to figure out, but I’m still working on it.

Not long ago Rockler had some planes on sale. They aren’t the top of the line, but I figured I didn’t want to learn on something expensive so I bought three: a low angle block plane, a #4 smoothing plane, and a #5 Jack plane; all made by Groz, and all for under $100. They required some tuning up and sharpening, but I expected that.

Well I fiddled and fooled and read and played and fiddled and fooled some more. Then Betsy took a vacation and the excitement that came through her blog series was contagious and I fiddled a bit more.

Today, I experience the pleasure of planing. I had cut a couple of uprights for a cradle I’m making and thought I might just try this plane thing to smooth the tapered edges. I wasn’t expecting much, but when I started and the blade sliced through the wood and the shaving curled so pretty I couldn’t help but say, “Wow, this is cool.”

Now I guess I’ll be looking for other opportunities to use these neat tools and increase my skills to the point where I think I’m ready to go for the good stuff. For now, though, I think what I’ve got will do me just fine while I learn. Thanks to LumberJocks for introducing me to such a pleasure.

-- Working at Woodworking

12 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3409 days

#1 posted 06-07-2008 09:13 PM

I have trouble finding where to plug them in at. :-)

When you need a plane, you know it, that’s for sure!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3189 days

#2 posted 06-07-2008 09:22 PM

i totally know what you mean, before lumberjocks i never even thought of picking up a plane but now I’m searching everywhere to try and get one. no luck yet though. thanks for the post.

View lazyfiremaninTN's profile


528 posts in 3374 days

#3 posted 06-07-2008 09:26 PM

I got the same planes for christmas and I love them. I use mine on cutting boards. I don’t have a planner so I hand plane my cutting boards flat.

I also made a work bench outa 2×4s and I planned the top since I didn’t have any clamps to make sure it was glue correctly and flat.

-- Adrian ..... The 11th Commandment...."Thou Shalt Not Buy A Wobble Dado"

View Betsy's profile


3336 posts in 3317 days

#4 posted 06-07-2008 10:44 PM

Russell – glad to hear that you’ve joined me and others on that slippery slope of hand tools. There is just something about a nice pretty ribbon of wood coming out of a plane that is so very cool. There is a definite learning curve, but it’s a lot less of a dangerous curve than the power tools.

Looking forward to more!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View bhack's profile


349 posts in 3141 days

#5 posted 06-07-2008 11:25 PM


I just came in from the shop where I was tuning up my block plan. I got it at ACE Hardware about 15 years ago to do something around the house ( hadn’t gottten onto woodworking then). I tuned it up just now and it works great for learning. I think I am going the route you took and learn on the less expensive. If it works out I’ll go from there. If not I will have had fun.

Feels good when things come together doesn”t it? Thanks for posting, learn small and progress.

-- Bill - If I knew GRANDKIDS were so much fun I would have had them first.

View WayneC's profile


12642 posts in 3518 days

#6 posted 06-07-2008 11:38 PM

A little knowledge really helps. Without it the process can be frustrating. With knowledge hand tools are a joy to use. Just be careful walking by a Lie-Nielson display, the tools will begin to call you by name. : ^ )

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 3333 days

#7 posted 06-08-2008 12:48 AM


That’s great that you have found some pleasure in using your new hand planes.

There’s nothing like the sound of a hand plane slicing throug the wood to produce a see through shaving!

Enjoy the journey.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3360 days

#8 posted 06-08-2008 01:28 AM

It wasn’t that long ago when I stopped using my brad nailer for everything, and then I started hand sanding things, then wipe on finishes, and now planes … It’s a slippery slope.

Gary, here’s one of my planes. I can understand not knowing where to plug it in, the cord is a little short.


And Wayne, one of the things I’m afraid of is the little voices saying, “Take me home”

-- Working at Woodworking

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 3498 days

#9 posted 06-08-2008 02:11 AM

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3243 days

#10 posted 06-08-2008 02:40 AM

Russel and Gary,

You could try one of these:

It doesn’t have quite the torque of yours, Russel but it solves Gary’s problem about plugging it in.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View WayneC's profile


12642 posts in 3518 days

#11 posted 06-08-2008 02:42 AM

LOL – wish I was not halfway around the world from my shop so I could join in the fun….

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View DustyNewt's profile


671 posts in 3283 days

#12 posted 06-12-2008 04:38 AM

Russell - I, too have been on the hand tool slide. I find it so much more gratifying and much more peaceful.
For the past two years I have been working in a paper converting mill as a machine operator. I wear earplugs all day but can still hear my machines hours after I get home. They even invade my dreams. I really look forward to my time in my workshop with my non-electrics.

-- Peace in Wood ~

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