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Hand Plane down or up?

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Forum topic by Burbs posted 10-14-2016 06:16 AM 981 views 0 times favorited 44 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Burbs

34 posts in 144 days


10-14-2016 06:16 AM

So I posted my workshop and in one of the pictures I had an old stanley 5 1/2 sitting on my bench, upright. One of the comments was that I should turn my plane on it’s side. Now at the time, I had just sharpened the iron on that plane and the iron was retracted and I thought I would put it in the picture because it was my first restore and thought I would show it off since I don’t have any plane storage yet. Usually my planes sit behind my miter saw fence, and they are usually on their side just because from what I’ve read, most people think it’s sacrilegious to have a plane sitting any other way.

Now I have to admit that when using my planes, I’m usually using a shooting board and it usually rests on its side on the shooting board or I set it on my workbench upright. My bench at the moment is made from cdx plywood and 2×4’s and I’ve never really seen a need to lay a razor sharp plane on its side so the blade is exposed to my hands and whatever other tools I’m using. To me, it’s safer to put it iron down, what am I going to do, hurt the plywood?

Now if the picture was taken with the plane iron down on my table saw or on my dining room table, even I’d have been cringing given the time I put in making sure my irons are sharp but the only reason I can see for laying a plane on it’s side all the time is just so you get in the habit so that when you do have a nice hardwood bench, it’s not getting scraped up. Is there any other reason to always keep your planes on their side or am I missing something?

-- ---The day I learn nothing of value will be the day I'm laid to rest--- Burbs


44 replies so far

View MikeB_UK's profile

MikeB_UK

42 posts in 495 days


#1 posted 10-14-2016 08:44 AM

Near as I can tell, traditionally at least - Site workers put the plane on it’s side so they don’t damage the iron/sole on concrete floors / hard surfaces. Bench workers put the plane upright so they don’t damage the iron/sole by hitting it with another tool.

If you put it on it’s side on a bench then sharp end away from you so you don’t skin your knuckle reaching past it for another tool, honestly, if I used power tools I’d need body armour – Best safety rule ever is pointy end away from you :)

-- I've worked out how to sharpen, now how do you get blood out of pine?

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JayT

4772 posts in 1671 days


#2 posted 10-14-2016 11:26 AM

Someone’s missing something, but it’s not you.

I also do not understand why anyone would want to put their plane on its side on a bench, there are far more reasons to put the plane upright. It’s not going to hurt the iron (it’s meant to touch wood, right?), protects you from accidentally hitting a sharp edge, is more stable so it won’t fall over and is easier to hand for use. The only times I can see setting a plane on its side is better would be if setting on a hard, non-wood surface, as Mike mentioned, or setting on an already finished piece for some reason, as you mentioned. Any other time, upright is safer and better.

For some reason, putting the plane on its side was taught as the right way to do it for a long time and some people have just taken that as gospel without actually thinking about the pros and cons for themselves. Why they feel they have to point out their own ignorance to others all the time is beyond me, as well.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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HokieKen

1737 posts in 599 days


#3 posted 10-14-2016 12:36 PM

Just lay the friggin’ thing down and ignore anyone who says you did it wrong ;-p

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13713 posts in 2079 days


#4 posted 10-14-2016 01:00 PM

+1 to Ken and JayT.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 199 days


#5 posted 10-14-2016 02:55 PM

I balance mine upside down. Takes awhile but totally worth it. :)

View SyndicateCoTToN's profile

SyndicateCoTToN

9 posts in 281 days


#6 posted 10-14-2016 03:08 PM

I hear that every now and then, and usually reply “oh ya, neat”.

I recall that it was more relevant for wooden soled planes.

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MadMark

976 posts in 913 days


#7 posted 10-14-2016 03:33 PM

Its not on its side to protect the surface of the table! It’s on it’s side to protect that carefully sharpened & aligned BLADE!

M

-- Madmark - Madmark2150@yahoo.com Wiretreefarm.com

View JADobson's profile

JADobson

677 posts in 1571 days


#8 posted 10-14-2016 03:37 PM



Its not on its side to protect the surface of the table! It s on it s side to protect that carefully sharpened & aligned BLADE!

M

- MadMark

Protect it from what? The wooden table top? The blade was sharpened to cut wood. It will be just fine sitting upright.

-- James

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13713 posts in 2079 days


#9 posted 10-14-2016 03:40 PM

Planing wood is a contact sport. If the act of setting a plane down on a clean workbench impacts alignment, it would have never survived contact with the wood to be worked anyway. And making comments bold doesn’t make them any more valid.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View JayT's profile

JayT

4772 posts in 1671 days


#10 posted 10-14-2016 03:41 PM

So you are saying that a plane iron, which is intended to cut wood, needs protection from the very wood it’s supposed to cut? That makes no sense whatsoever.

The blade is better protected by being down on the bench instead of exposed to accidentally being hit by any of the other tools that are being used. A bench won’t nick the cutting edge, a wayward chisel could.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View ColonelTravis's profile

ColonelTravis

1189 posts in 1354 days


#11 posted 10-14-2016 05:52 PM

If you’re absolutely paranoid about alignment/blade screw-ups, just lay a strip of wood on your bench and rest the plane toe on that – blade is down and it’s also not touching anything. I do this about 5% of the time. 95% of the time I just put it down on the bench and have not suffered any trouble ever.

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 199 days


#12 posted 10-14-2016 07:20 PM

I’m surprised this is a real topic. We should add sharpening theory to this because it feels like we should. If you use water stones you have to put the plain on its side, diamond stones blade down, oil stones just means the plane will slip out of your hands onto the floor anyway. I put it in bold letters which makes it the real true rule.

Wait…did I get that in reverse, water stones blade down???

I put mine blade down without thinking twice. On its side when I’m using my tool well because my tool well isn’t deep enough for a standing plane and I want the full bench at those times.

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DrDirt

4167 posts in 3203 days


#13 posted 10-14-2016 09:34 PM

Seems like folks store them with the blade touching wood… hard to imagine building tills to store planes on their sides.

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

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TheTurtleCarpenter

823 posts in 526 days


#14 posted 10-14-2016 09:56 PM

What happens if you lay it on its side and you inadvertantly hit the blade edge with your hand or a metal tool ? i just put mine in my side holster you never know who’s peeping from the alley at ya.

-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle",,,,,member MWTCA area K. Kentucky

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13713 posts in 2079 days


#15 posted 10-14-2016 10:48 PM

Turtle wins “Best Use of Bold Text” for today! :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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