Thursday, January 21, 2010

Plane Talk

I was once quoted, and not all that long ago either, as saying that I didn't think I'd have much need for planes in my woodshop. I expected to do the vast majority of my work with machines. While my love of machines has not diminished and I intend to use them for productivity, the possibility of enjoying the older methods of woodworking has been growing in me. I'll need to learn the proper use of chisels to hand cut dovetails for the Winchester desk I'll be building. That much I expected. But now I find myself fascinated by handplanes.

I think my burgeoning love affair with planes began when I picked up Chris Schwarz's Handplane Essentials. It's a wonderful collection of essays on various aspects of the choice and use of planes. Since then I've gotten Garrett Hack's older volume The Handplane Book and I'm working my way through it from front to back.

But anticipating work to come, I've also started to collect some planes to use in my shop. The largest of these is the Lie-Nielsen No. 7-1/2 bevel up jointer plane, which I'll first use to flatten a nice wide piece of curly red oak I'm planning to use for a pair of cutting boards. Don't look for this plane on their web site; it isn't listed and may not be offered any longer. Pity, because the bevel up feature will be good for highly figured wood like the curly red oak.

I also have a pair of planes to use for smoothing the surface of the wood--on the cutting boards and later on the drawer fronts of my desk--a No. 4 Lie-Nielsen corrugated sole smoothing plane and a Veritas low-angle bevel up smoothing plane. The latter will be especially good for avoiding tearout in highly figured wood, again like the curly red oak and the curly cherry I'm planning to use for the desk front. The corrugated sole on the former is intended to make it easier to move the plane across the wood.

Other planes I've acquired are the Lie-Nielsen No. 97-1/2 small chisel plane, which I'll use for removing glue from joints and evening the ends of dovetails, the Lie-Nielsen medium shoulder plane for evening up tenon shoulders, the Veritas edge plane and the Lie-Nielsen No. 60-1/2 adjustable mouth low-angle block plane for working the end grain of boards.

Now that I've built up my collection of planes, I feel that I can handle just about any situation required of them.

Now if I only had them fully sharpened and set up for use, I could start on that curly red oak today. Well, perhaps I will!


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