Handplanes: A Rare Victory

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Blog entry by Blair Helgason posted 12-07-2011 07:27 PM 2364 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hey Everyone, it’s been a while… oh well. I just thought I’d share this with you.

I would consider myself primarily a power tool user. My experience with handplanes has been limited to breaking or rounding over the odd edge with a block plane, anything more would be met with absolute disaster. That is, until this past weekend.

I was all ready to start jointing about 30 feet of rough maple when the unthinkable happened, the switch on my jointer snapped. After an initial breakdown I collected myself and focused on a solution. A while back, I remembered reading about using a thickness planner, a sled and shims to plane the face of boards wider than your jointer. This worked out pretty well but there’s still the crooked edge to tend with. I just needed to get one edge flat enough to safely run through my table saw. So out came the handplanes. All I have are two old wooden planes from my grandfather and a block plane, none of which I’ve had any luck with… the tools fault OBVIOUSLY! But I had no other option so I went to work. I started with the smaller wooded plane and took down the high spots. Then I switched to the other wood plane which I guess would be a jointer plane. This one was super awkward because of it’s size, it’s a good thing squareness wasn’t an issue, just flatness. This plane seemed to undo all of the work that the smaller plane did but I kept going despite my reluctancy. To my absolute surprise the board was pretty flat after about seven or eight good passes! I have to admit, it was fun, a lot of work, but fun… and satisfying.

Anyways, I know this all sounds very obvious and simple but I made some pretty huge messes with handplanes before so this one felt good and who would’ve thought, it wasn’t the tools fault… it was mine!

Thanks for listening.

-- Blair

17 comments so far

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4413 days

#1 posted 12-07-2011 07:36 PM

Glad to hear of your breakthrough! You had better watch out because the slope on which you’re standing tis a slippery one. :-)

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 4060 days

#2 posted 12-07-2011 07:43 PM

Yeah, full blown restorations are next. Great post, good luck with future acquisitions.

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4458 days

#3 posted 12-07-2011 07:43 PM

Good start. Just keep going !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Don W's profile

Don W

20389 posts in 4029 days

#4 posted 12-07-2011 08:01 PM

its sounds like Brandon’s advice may be to late. There is a pride that comes with using a handplane you can NEVER feel using power tools. The sound of a jointer annoys me now, while a handplane has a soothing swish that relaxes to the core.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Blair Helgason's profile

Blair Helgason

169 posts in 4875 days

#5 posted 12-07-2011 08:38 PM

I don’t know that I’m quite there yet but I have been looking at new planes online… ahh crap!

-- Blair

View Don W's profile

Don W

20389 posts in 4029 days

#6 posted 12-07-2011 08:39 PM

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Bertha's profile


13635 posts in 4154 days

#7 posted 12-07-2011 08:41 PM

You’re screwed, dude. Welcome to the disease. Treat yourself to a good vintage Stanley jointer, tune it up good, and you won’t miss your broken jointer switch. I can’t remember the last time I’ve powered up my pretty yellow Powermatic;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4576 days

#8 posted 12-07-2011 09:19 PM

congrat´s by discovering the satisfaction of using your hands as a gentleman …. working in silence :-)
you better increase your shopbudget for a periode of several years now to buy handtools for …. lol
there is no way back from the bright side

may the force be with you … :-)


View Mike's profile


66 posts in 3843 days

#9 posted 12-07-2011 09:20 PM

I to am facing this addiction and am restoring one ane looking for others these is no escape.

-- But hon I need this tool.......

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 4344 days

#10 posted 12-07-2011 10:54 PM

Sorry my friend, but you’re a goner. You’d have more hope if it was crack you tried than starting into the dark underbelly of handplanes…

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Blair Helgason's profile

Blair Helgason

169 posts in 4875 days

#11 posted 12-07-2011 11:15 PM

Wow, you guys are serious! I feel like I should turn around run away. Just kidding, thanks for reading.

-- Blair

View amagineer's profile


1415 posts in 4058 days

#12 posted 12-08-2011 12:42 AM

I know the feeling. It happened to me a couple of years ago, so I bought an old Stanley and a Keen Kutter hand plane to restore. There is nothing like vintage tools.

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 4116 days

#13 posted 12-08-2011 04:16 PM

Another one bites the dust. Enjoy making shavings, the wooden planes have to be tuned to work right, but they are sweet when they are up and running.

Some of my best tools are over 100 years old.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View ABQJohn's profile


16 posts in 4322 days

#14 posted 12-08-2011 09:55 PM

I have several planes on the shelf to be restored (but mostly just sharpened & tuned) “someday”. Posts like this help get me in the mood to take action.


View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 4301 days

#15 posted 12-08-2011 10:15 PM

The cleanup is so much easier when your floor is covered with shavings not dust. I use mine as kitty litter. Welcome to the world of galoot.
The setup was a heck of a lot easier I bet.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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