Saturday, November 14, 2015

Writing While I'm Laid Up

I'm wearing a soft cast right now to heal inflamed tendons in my right ankle.  I'm supposed to stay off my feet as much as possible.  That means I'm not getting in much in the way of shop time.  Instead, I'm using the time for my other interests, writing and photography.

I'm finishing up my latest book, Choosing and Using Handplanes, a guide intended for the newer user of handplanes.  It will be published by Amazon as a paperback and also in a Kindle edition.  I've described some of the process I've been going through on my writing blog

And, I'm working my way through literally thousands of photographs in my files.  Some of these I'm selling as art prints.  Others I'm posing on my photography blog and on Facebook.

So I'm occupied doing things I love to do.  But when the cast comes off my foot, look out--it'll be back to the woodshop to finish up some projects that are waiting to be completed and start some new ones.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Book on Handplanes

For the last several months, I've been writing and photographing a book on using handplanes in woodworking.  Titled Choosing and Using Handplanes, it describes the various types of handplanes, how to set them up and sharpen them, ways to hold work for planing and planing technique itself.  It also addresses caring for handplanes, buying and restoring old handplanes and how to diagnose and fix various problems encountered in planing.  The book should be completed in November in a paperback edition that will be sold on as well as on my web site and in a Kindle edition to follow soon after that.

A photo of the book's cover is shown here.  If you are new to handplaning, I think you will find this book a helpful resource for getting started.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Publishing the Handplanes Book

I continue to progress toward completion of my book, Choosing and Using Handplanes.  It has 74 pages now and will probably reach 80 by the time it is finished.  I still have a few photos to make and some appliances to construct.  I hope to have this all completed by mid-August.

That means it's time to start thinking about how I'll get the book published.  I could go for a traditional publisher, but I'm inclined to think that the self-publishing route would be better.  It think that offers the possibility of a lower price and wider distribution.

I do know that I'll be publishing it in full color, both the cover and inside.  That's important particularly for the photographs, which are important for conveying the information I want to share.

At the moment, I'm taking a hard look at publishing through CreateSpace, which will make the book available for purchase via Amazon.  I'll probably also produce a version for Kindle so it can be read on tablets.  That's what I did for my mystery novel, The Hero of Gucci Gulch, and it worked well.

I'll keep you posted on my progress and let you know when it is available.

For now, my offer stands to send a free copy (via email) to anyone who wants to review it.  Just write me at and I'll send the latest version by return email.  If you send me helpful comments, I'll also reference you in the acknowledgements!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

An Update on the Handplanes Book

Since my last post, I've made considerable progress toward completing my book, Choosing and Using Handplanes.  The text is completely written, all of the figures are complete and most of some 80+ photos are inserted in their proper places.  I still need to complete the appendices on shooting board construction and build and document a few other appliances.

I have the book out for review with a few people who are knowledgeable about handplanes.  But, I would love to have additional readers.  If you would like to be one of them, send me your email address to and I'll send you a pdf version of the book in its present draft form.  Bear in mind, however, that it is about 3 mb in size.

I hope to have the book completely finished in a few weeks.  I am starting to look for a possible publisher.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Choosing and Using Handplanes

For a number of years now I've taught classes on handplanes at two northern Virginia Woodcraft stores.  My classes--Handplane Basics and Restoring Old Handplanes--are both fun to teach and educational, not only for my students but also for me.  I've learned a lot about handplanes since I started.  My beginning was a class at the Marc Adams School with Chris Schwarz and Tom Lie-Nielsen.  Following that, I studied a number of books on handplanes and became a user in my own shop.  But as much as anything, I've learned a lot from the questions posed by my students and my sometimes fumbling attempts to answer those I'd not anticipated.

As a result of this experience I've come to believe I have a good feel for what beginning handplane users want and need to know.  And while there are many good resources available, none of them seem quite right to meet the needs of my students.  So, I've decided to write a book of my own.

For now, the working title is Choosing and Using Handplanes.  The book will explain the types of planes and their uses in the woodshop, techniques for planing, setting and adjusting planes, sharpening and honing blades, buying and restoring old handplanes, and jigs and fixtures to use with handplanes, including holding devices and shooting boards.  It will also have a list of resources.  It  will make extensive use of photos, drawings and explanatory sidebars.

My plan is to publish it as an eBook through Amazon's Kindle.  I'm hoping to have it finished sometime this summer.  Already I have a first draft written, figures drafted and photos planned.  Most of the sidebars are completed.  What remains is to fill in the gaps and edit the text.   I will also need to build the jigs and fixtures I want to illustrate.  There's plenty of work to do yet, but I'm very excited about the project and find myself making progress on it every day.  Look here for information about my progress.