Hand Tools #1: An Unexpected Joy Using a Hand Plane

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Blog entry by slooper posted 02-22-2009 12:03 AM 1428 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I didn’t see it coming, not at all! But alas, it came and it conquered. I thought it was so far off from me that it would never be within striking distance. But there it was right in my hands, and out of the blue it came. What I had before me was a mere scrap piece of wood, a throw-away from someone else’s project. The task I had was, as I saw it, simply a necessary evil; hand-planing a rough surface so that I could get a good look at the true grain of an unfamiliar wood. My hope was that I’d find a new species to add to my woodworking pallet. As expected, this “scrap” did not disappoint, as gorgeous grain and color were revealed once the plane had done its work. But what captivated me while my guard was down was the exhilaration I felt gliding the plane across wood’s rough surface, stroke by stroke, shaving by shaving. “What is this I’m feeling?” I asked myself. “I’m hand planing!” I mean, I have always been of the opinion that the enjoyment of woodworking lie in the power tools. Hand tools were just drudgery.

I must say that I had a difficult time reconciling the emotion with the action seeing that I had spent all these years avoiding it. Perhaps it was because I haven’t been getting enough exercise and the work was causing the release of endorphins into my system. Maybe the visual pleasure of seeing the new grains cheered me up. Or possibly there was a certain joy in flattening a board by hand rather than machine. Whatever the case, I have discovered a newfound appreciation, nay, pleasure in hand planing. Ever since my 7th grade shop class I have been of the opinion hand planing was too much work and using power tools was much more satisfying. I dare say, I think my opinion has changed today.

12 comments so far

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4671 days

#1 posted 02-22-2009 12:07 AM

In my opinion as long as you are fit and not in a despertate hurry this is the way to go.In life we need all to slow down many of us ever make it.I worked in dentistry for over thirty years and was always under pressure now I have had to teach myself to slow down and guess what?? I am still finding it very difficult to do regards Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

1003 posts in 4479 days

#2 posted 02-22-2009 12:31 AM

Totally agree with SCOOTSMAN, this world is going in a rush that doesn’t get anywere. Handplanes and Handtools have the right speed I need to live my life. This mindless consumerism sucks!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 4995 days

#3 posted 02-22-2009 01:22 AM

I have to agree with all three of you. The look, sound and feel of a wisp of wood ribboning off the bevel of a plane iron is sure a lot more pleasing than the din of the lunch box planer I have. Perhaps that’s why I spent a couple of hours sharpening two irons for a block plane and old bedrock 606 that im restoring. I cant wait to use that 606 next weekend. Woohoo.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View TraumaJacques's profile


433 posts in 4587 days

#4 posted 02-22-2009 01:23 AM

Welcome to the club buddy… I just spent 6 hours hand cutting mortises and I feel great. it would have taken probably 1 hour with a power machine but I would not have had the peace I had.

-- All bleeding will eventually stop.

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4528 days

#5 posted 02-22-2009 03:03 AM

Like you I have also discovered the enjoyment in hand tool work.It sure is nice to have a much closer relationship between the tool, the process and the timber that you often don,t get using something with a plug. But don,t kid yourself, the romance of it soon disappears on a big job when you end your day in a lather of sweat with arms so sore your wife has to spoon feed you your dinner because you don,t have the strength to lift a fork! Thats why our forefathers invented powered planners and jointers, no romance,and a lot of noise but at least you can use the remote at the end of the day without needing physical therapy!

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View blackcherry's profile


3346 posts in 4909 days

#6 posted 02-22-2009 05:55 AM

I join this fraternity about 3 years ago and I just love every time I pick one up. I started out with Lie Nielson#4 and then a few Lee Valley planes and now the large family of Stanley planes, to date I’m in the neighborhood of 30 hand plane….I quest it a addition now but I just love it. I about ready to sale some off and just keep the ones I enjoy using the most. Welcome to the wonderful world of hand planes….Blkcherry

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4870 days

#7 posted 02-23-2009 07:02 AM

Thanks for the great post. I’m a hand tools guy but hand planing is the one thing that still hasn’t clicked for me. You’ve given me the extra motivation to keep at it!

-- Eric at

View PG_Zac's profile


371 posts in 4475 days

#8 posted 02-23-2009 03:30 PM

Now watch Slooper start down the slippery slope of buying hand planes :-)

If you need it Slooper, there is a sort of a “Planes Anonymous” group on this site in case you need help (or encouragement)

-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

View slooper's profile


37 posts in 4565 days

#9 posted 02-23-2009 06:11 PM

PG_Zac, Lack of $$ provides ample friction to prevent that from happening… for now. ;) Although I must confess that I did do more than peek at the Lee Valley & Veritas catalog.

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4735 days

#10 posted 02-23-2009 06:49 PM

All I can say is:


indeed – I found that once you start looking for specific hand planes – powertools start to look pretty inexpensive.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View olblueeyes888's profile


9 posts in 4498 days

#11 posted 03-02-2009 07:49 AM

Yeah, power tools are much cheaper, in the long run but if you master each plane as you get it that may at least slow you down long enough to pay the bills, and people who come to buy your work will be enchanted by the hand hewn charm and pay for the romantic notions that your work affords them, I have all but given up on Power tools in my shop.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4799 days

#12 posted 03-03-2009 06:24 AM

Hi, my name is Mark, and I am a hand plane user….. ;-)

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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