Hand Planes

It is incomprehensible to me how someone can work wood without using a hand plane. Not just because they’re quieter, slower, and give better feedback to the user, but also because when they’re sharp, they are unequaled at making accurate cuts. My opinion is that each woodworker needs five of them, but I know many people disagree with this statement. They are the folks who have 20 or 30 hand planes close by.

Join us July 7-9 for an introduction to these amazing tools. Hand Planes, Spoke Shaves, and Scrapers is a 3 day workshop where you’ll learn how to choose, sharpen, tune, and use these amazing tools. Once you have them in your kit, you will wonder how you ever worked wood before.

1-Bedrock plane-002


Bedrock in use w hands


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4 Responses to Hand Planes

  1. Jim Miner says:

    It is incomprehensible to me how so many people tout these tools as the only method by which beautiful furniture can be created. Yes, they have their place for many but they are also not that easy to learn to use, require a lot of upkeep, and the good ones are expensive. Just the other day I visited a cabinet shop where a customer was picking up a credenza made entirely from walnut and maple. No plywood, no metal hardware, except for the pulls and drawer-slides, and stunning figure. It was dead-flat, dead-square and a future heirloom. The maker used a power jointer and planer and a 36″ belt sander. He used floating tenons for most of the joinery (domino), fine-tuned some of the stock with a CNC, and sprayed catalyzed lacquer for the finish. The customer wouldn’t know a hand-cut dovetail from that machined one on the drawers and wouldn’t care. Yes, most shops don’t have that kind of equipment but many have mini versions of all of it. Don’t get me wrong: I have a bevy of hand planes and I mill my stock then sweeten a lot of it by “hand.” I appreciate this process, but it is simply NOT easy. I see articles all the time that begin with the words Easy this or Simple that. I don’t agree that sharp hand tools are “unequaled at making accurate cuts.” Don’t believe me? Pay a visit and take the tour of the Stickley or Thos. Moser factory (I’ve done both) and you’ll see otherwise. Keep doing what you do, please. You’re helping a lot of people and their lives are enriched with what you’re bringing them. But, please don’t sell that there is only way to happily and successfully work wood. Yours is but one way to accomplish this.


    • nwwstudio says:

      Well thanks for reading. I don’t think I said it was the only method for building furniture. It is my method. You can rail against my methods all you like but come to my shop and see my work. Hand planes are time savers for me since I learned how to sharpen and tune them. They do not take the place of jointers and planers and table saws and routers. I never said they did. But they can smooth a surface, trim a joint, and ease an edge faster than my other power tools. I do not use hand planes for character building, to save my hearing, or to buoy my sense of accomplishment. I use them because they help me work better. I’m sorry for your frustration. We do have a great class coming up that might help with this. Thanks again for reading. Gary


      • Jim Miner says:

        Gary, reading back what I wrote it sounds like an old codger yelling at kids to get off his lawn. My apologies for that. I’ve seen your work (in person) when I travelled through there. It’s quite nice. Another fellow showed me around when I came by; you were busy at the bench showing a small group something. We only briefly entered that room. I also have a couple of good friends who’ve taken your classes (and one who continues to drive there regularly for your ongoing class) and they too speak highly of your teaching and skills.

        I guess what sounded like my railing was actually a response, on my part, to the prevalence of folks who position their love of hand tools against the folks who don’t use them. Your opening salvo touched that off for me. I never got the point of that. I should reiterate; I love hand tools. For all the same reasons that you do. Just this morning I smoothed the tear-out from a difficult Claro-Walnut Server top with a card scraper and my 4 1/2. All the while listening to a couple of yesterday’s podcasts.

        I’m not frustrated. I do believe, however, that some people work no better with hand tools than without them. And, it’s a generous thought on your part to invite me there but I’ve taken enough classes for one life. The best learning I can do now is to simply design and build, design and build, design and build.

        Thanks for taking the time to reply and for your contributions to this craft. Jim.


  2. Good advice indeed. Sounds like an interesting workshop.


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