Woodworking vacation #4: Day one of hand tool class

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 05-20-2008 01:12 AM 1991 reads 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Made it to Berea! Part 4 of Woodworking vacation series Part 5: Day two ---- small shooting board with options and angle setting gizmo »

Two miracles have happened first thing in this class. Miracle one is that I am not the only woman in this class!!!! Very odd occurrence. Miracle two is the other woman is an orthopedic surgeon! Just what I need. She’s been very nice and has given me some tips on what to do to make my back feel better. So that’s a blessing.

So onto the class.

This is Kelly – the school’s owner. You can tell right off that he is a very nice man and runs a good school.


This is Deneb the instructor. Very nice, personable and obviously very informed about woodworking. He works at Lie Nelson but he is not pushing their tools – which is good.


Some points of interest that I learned today.

When tuning up a plane—start with the “Lillypad.” Which is what Deneb calls the area of the plane where the frog sits. Make sure that everything that bears against one another is flat and smooth and that no gaps exist.

Once done with the lilly pad move onto the frog itself and clean it up and make sure there are no burrs, etc. that will get in the way of mating pieces.

Then onto the blade – back first then the front.

Then the chipbreaker—make sure there is no gap between the chip breaker and the back of the blade – any light/gap must be eliminated.

Put the plane back together and lap the sole flat. Then check the sides for square.

I’ll get into a little more detail later… but onto sharpening which is the main reason I came for this class.

The first thing Deneb really brought home was that when he starts with a new blade – he starts by polishing it on an 8000 grit stone. Doing this will immediately bring out any defects and that allows you to know what you are going to have to do to get the blade flat and ready to sharpen.


He got into back bevels—- but I kind of zoned out about that time——but he talked about the ruler trick.



I’m going to have to ask about that again tomorrow – I’m still not feeling all that well and I kind of lost track of the lecture. Sorry guys———I’ll try to get that information tomorrow and pass it on.

As to planes as a whole – the smaller the plane the more important it is that it is completely flat === a large jointer plane is not necessarily the one you want to spend all your time tuning up. The smaller the plane gets the more time you spend on it.

After the initial polishing on the 8000 grit, he moves on to 180, 220 and 400 grit paper on a granite surface. He works in a progression. 10 or so strokes on the 180, then 10 or so on the 220 and then 10 or so on the 400 – then back to the 180. He has a very good reason for this—- but I’ll have to tell you later——another zone out time for me. Sorry guys.

One thing to remember is that the back of an iron/chisel or the sole of a plane can only be as flat as the surface that you are sharpening on.

Something else that sticks with me is that if you take a stroke with a plane and you don’t get a shaving—- it may be the board and not the plane. If you have set the plane up for a light cut and you are sure it’s set correctly and you still don’t get a shaving – then go back to the last plane you used and rework the board. Then try again. Don’t just assume you need to move your blade out further, it’s probably that the board is not flat enough from the first plane.

Ok——so here are some pictures of the plane I am working on.

This shows me truing up the frog = the piece is sitting on the shooting board with 220 grip paper on both the top and lower level of the board. Using 3/4 material is perfect for this size piece and made quick work of cleaning it up.



Here’s a shot of the other side cleaned up.


Here I wrapped a piece of adhesive paper around my frog and used this to clean out the body. It worked pretty well.



Now to put it back together.



Even at this early stage this plane looks better.

That’s all I’ve got for today fellas. I’m afraid I did not take many notes, and even if I did, I’ve never been a good note taker.

More tomorrow.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

13 comments so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4408 days

#1 posted 05-20-2008 01:15 AM

sound like you had a very exciting day. I’ve always wanted to attend a woodworking meeting like that. maybe when i get my drivers license. thanks for the post and keep us updated.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4514 days

#2 posted 05-20-2008 01:29 AM

I’m so glad you made it to the show, Betsy. Thanks so much for sharing this class with us in so much detail.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Karson's profile


35212 posts in 5040 days

#3 posted 05-20-2008 01:30 AM

Thanks Betsy.

Sorry for your zoning out but I hope you fill in all of the blanks.

Nice work so far.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View kem's profile


56 posts in 4358 days

#4 posted 05-20-2008 01:39 AM

Awesome post! I’ve learned a lot just from reading it. I wish I was there.

I think the ruler trick is from David Charlesworth. I remember reading about it in “Hand Tool Essentials” which is a wealth of information. Using the trick puts a 1 degree back bevel on the flat side of the iron when honing.

I’m interested in the 180-220-400-180-... sharpening progression too. Does he do that to remove the scratch marks so you’re not just scratching into the same grooves?

-- Kevin

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4628 days

#5 posted 05-20-2008 02:08 AM

Very cool, Betsy. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4462 days

#6 posted 05-20-2008 02:56 AM


This is a pretty informative post. I am glad you made it as well. I am enjoying this as well.

Thanks for the post. I appreciate the effort you are putting into this.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View TomK 's profile


504 posts in 4514 days

#7 posted 05-20-2008 04:35 AM

Good job Betsy! What a great way to recuperate! Keep the posts coming.

-- If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free! PJ O'Rourke

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4637 days

#8 posted 05-20-2008 07:24 AM

Keep up the good reporting! Fun stuff…

Thanks for sharing it!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View TedM's profile


2002 posts in 4373 days

#9 posted 05-20-2008 12:07 PM

Thanks for keeping us up to date. Looking forward to more!

-- I'm a wood magician... I can turn fine lumber into firewood before your very eyes! - Please visit and sign up for my project updates!

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4579 days

#10 posted 05-20-2008 12:21 PM

Great post Betsy. As I’m just starting to work with hand planes, everything you write is educational for me. Thanks for your attention to detail.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4515 days

#11 posted 05-20-2008 01:41 PM


Thanks for the update – glad you made it to the seminar OK.

You are doing great! For a good laugh, look at my latest video , in which I flatten the workbench top using a #7 jointer plane and a #4-1/2 smoother. I managed to sharpen the irons OK, but my hand plane technique is less than admirable…

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View johnjoiner's profile


160 posts in 4533 days

#12 posted 05-20-2008 04:07 PM

Thanks for the post Betsy.

But … they let two women into one class? What the heck?!? ;-)

I’m considering taking a class at Kelly’s school next time I get enough $$ and vacation saved up. I’d be interested to hear your impressions of the school in general.

-- johnjoiner

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 4481 days

#13 posted 05-29-2008 06:45 PM

You need to make sure the other guys insurance pays you for your tuition!!
Your doing a great job of passing on the information.
I have never heard of the ruler trick before.
Good job, and Thank You,

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

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