How to Use a Hand Plane: Save Money, Save Time and Build Better
Whether your hand plane is old or new, discover tips that will make it perform with surgical precision
There is no woodworking tool that's more satisfying, quick and precise to use as a handplane
Every woodworker either has or will face the task of sharpening their tools, learn how today
Everything You Need to Know About Hand Planes From the Experts at Popular Woodworking
By Dan Farnbach, Online Editor
Save Money With Hand Planes
I would rather spend money on lumber for my woodworking projects than on super-expensive tools. Hand tools, and especially hand planes, are a great way to go. For the price of a good random-orbital sander and a lifetime of sandpaper to go with it, you can easily buy a top-of-the-line hand plane and tune it up so that you are not only finishing surfaces but also straightening edges and fitting your work perfectly. And the savings get even more significant if you want to investigate hand plane restoration. Pre-war Stanley hand planes can be found in many parts of the country for less than $50. With all the restoration materials, you’ll be looking at around $100 for a hand plane that will last you a lifetime and become a workhorse in your shop.
Find everything you need to know about this money-saving method from our expert Christopher Schwarz in two of his best, most comprehensive works: HAND PLANE ESSENTIALS and SUPER-TUNE A HANDPLANE. The double bonus is that you’ll also save time searching the web for information that may or may not be accurate. Go with Chris’ expertise.
Save Time by Learning How to Use a Hand Plane the Right Way
How much time have you spent over the years in your shop on dust clean-up alone? When I started work at a production cabinet shop, that was all I did for the first weeks! Hand planes save you a lot of time here because the shavings are so much easier to sweep up and, even if you have to leave them on the floor for a few hours, they don’t pose a health hazard.
But dust is the least of it. If you can learn a few simple strokes with your hand plane, you can eliminate time spent building power-tool jigs for tasks like drawer-fitting. While jigs are fun to make, they often serve only a single purpose for one project – and then they pile up in a corner of the shop.
The key is to learn how your hand plane fits in with all the other tools you use. No tool works in isolation. They all work together. Whether you have mostly power tools or mostly hand tools, our book HAND TOOL ESSENTIALS is a great value and will teach you everything you need to know about saving time on your projects. Don’t leave our store without it!
Build Better Projects by Developing Even More Knowledge on Woodworking Hand Planes
The only drawback to getting into hand planes is that it might become an addiction! After mastering your first metal-bodied bench plane, you may find yourself seeking out a hand router plane or some wooden hand planes. They all have their uses. We have resources and expertise here, no matter how deep you want to go in the topic.
One last thought, an important one: Your hand plane is only as good as its edge. The above-listed resources tell you a lot about sharpening, but you can and should learn as much as possible. Our bestseller THE PERFECT EDGE is a great addition to your knowledge base. Buy it next!
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Dan Farnbach is the Online Editor of Popular Woodworking. He's into sports, making things, and being way out in the woods. At seventeen he designed and built a footbridge in the Idaho wilderness, and realized this craft was pretty satisfying. Since then he has learned custom cabinetmaking and dabbled in fine furniture, working for two professional shops. Connect with him and other woodworkers on the Popular Woodworking Facebook page.