Hand Plane Technique

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Forum topic by woodworksbyjohn posted 02-19-2011 12:07 AM 3795 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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89 posts in 3472 days

02-19-2011 12:07 AM

I’m a firm believer in hand planing my projects and when I had a fellow woodworker over to my shop today a question came up about using planes—he was trying out my smooth plane. He picks the plane up after each stroke while I usually leave it on the wood. His reasoning was that by picking it up you’re not dragging the cutting edge back over the wood which does make sense to me. We couldn’t really answer the question between us so I said I’d post it on the forum and see what the results are.
So the question is this, do you pick up the plane on the backstroke when you’re planing or do you leave it in contact with the wood?
Thanks for your opinions and feedback.

-- John Visit my Blog:

14 replies so far

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 4002 days

#1 posted 02-19-2011 12:16 AM

I’m too new to comment on what I do because I’m still learning…but the only reason I’ve read to lift the plane off the wood is to minimize wear on the blade (not the wood).

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4428 days

#2 posted 02-19-2011 12:16 AM

I try to tilt the plane up slightly onto one edge on the back-stroke,
lifting the iron off the wood but not taking up the entire weight of the plane.

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4069 days

#3 posted 02-19-2011 03:49 AM

I do both sometimes, but I mainly leave it on the wood and it doesn’t cause a problem at all that I can see.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3706 days

#4 posted 02-19-2011 04:20 AM

I don’t know why it would be a problem to slide the plane back over the lumber, but after saying that, I always remove it completely and set it back down on the material.

It made me unsure of my method, so I tried it, and as well looked at the Rob Cosman dvd, and he does the same thing, lifting it off each time.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 4568 days

#5 posted 02-19-2011 04:52 AM

I pick it up when set to fine shavings. Dragging back seems to draw the shavings back which then causes the plane to ride on the shaving. Have to then clear the throat. Probably my technique as the tote tends to lift the nose when moving backwards.

Deep cuts are stiff enough that they don’t tend to ride under the sole. This is when I am really aggressive, so also am conserving energy by not lifting the plane (i.e.scrub and jack)

Haven’t really noticed any difference in wear on the blade sharpness. Dragging back should have a honing effect on the iron, so don’t see how it would hurt the sharpness.



-- Go

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3621 days

#6 posted 02-20-2011 06:47 AM

When using my try and fore. I wont pick it up. My reasoning is the planes are heavy. now with my scrub and smothers I do pick it up. Mainly on the smooth because of the finish and the scrub because its the same size.

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

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89 posts in 3472 days

#7 posted 02-20-2011 05:13 PM

Interesting responses and I appreciate them—I’ve heard it said that if you ask 10 woodworkers how to do something you’ll get 10 answers! In thinking over my technique, at 61 this is how I’ve always done it, leave it on the wood. I’ve also taught literally hundreds of Junior High students the same. I like the thought that keeping it on the wood hones the blade—makes sense. I also agree that the thin shavings from my smoother “clog the throat” so then I lift the plane off.
Whew, mind is spinning but the idea that seems to make sense is that by leaving the blade in contact with the wood I seem to establish a rhythm as I work on that smooth, square surface—- what say you??

-- John Visit my Blog:

View bhog's profile


2238 posts in 3471 days

#8 posted 02-20-2011 05:57 PM

I leave it on the wood also,and like you said WOODWORK get into a rythm and can go to town.When picking up off the wood each time I always feel un sure of the next stroke,kinda like a “re set”.

-- I don't drive a Prius.

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89 posts in 3472 days

#9 posted 02-20-2011 09:52 PM

Alright Brandon—that does it, we’ve got the answer, between you and me it’s unanimous!!

-- John Visit my Blog:

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3896 days

#10 posted 02-20-2011 10:26 PM

if you use planes made of metal it makes sence to lift the hole plane from the wood
why ?
teorectly if not liftet completly and it rides on the front back then you will be able to
make a spur all the way back
speciely if you edges on the plane ain´t smooth enoff and beveled slightly

I know others will say thats rubish and will never happen ….well I have seen it happen one time


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89 posts in 3472 days

#11 posted 02-20-2011 10:35 PM

I agree with you Dennis, so the thing I would do to counteract that is to make sure my blade is parallel and in the case of my smoother it’s slightly cambered on the edges so it won’t happen. I use a #7 corrugated sole for my jointing and the blade is wider than most boards I joint so no problem.
Isn’t if fun opening a can of worms with a question on the forum!
By the way, I recall that you’re from Denmark and I recently was given a couple of wooden bodied planes from Sweden. The blade is stamped Erik Anton Berg and has a fish on it. the body of the plane has an oval, metal tag stamped EGYL and a paper tag that says JPBO Quality Tools. Any chance you can tell me anything about them? I have a smoother and a sliding dovetail style. Appreciate it.

-- John Visit my Blog:

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3896 days

#12 posted 02-20-2011 11:01 PM

John :
yes the blade is swedish so much I have found out and lot of my planes have those blades
not that I know how they ceep the edge , I still have to sharpen and hone mine
but I still has a few hundred parts need to go thrugh citric acid
you will see they are made of two different steal if you clean the side and look at it you can see
the lamination and where its start
The EGYL stamp I´m not sure of but my gess is that it cuold have been an owner ,schoolname, busyness-tag
since the paper JPBO logo is the Danish factory name ( I not sure they excist anymore )

is yours with wedge or the newer levercap type over the dubble irons and what planes are they :-)
well better yet a Picture…..LOL

take care

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10880 posts in 3896 days

#13 posted 02-20-2011 11:02 PM

general Swedish steal is very good steal for tools

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2388 posts in 3614 days

#14 posted 02-21-2011 11:03 PM

I don’t lift my plane. As you said John I also noticed that it removes the crap stuck at the cutting end of the blade and helps hone it a bit, plus it takes a great lot more pressure than the mere weight of the plane to actually cut into the wood. At least with my light-weight cheapo (but well honed) 3€ plane. Plus you go way faster when you have the tool already set above the surface.

But I think it also depends on the actual depth of cut you put in your plane. I like it thin and always set the depth of my blade by placing a sheet of printer paper under the front portion of the sole (right behind the blade), let the blade fall into position by gravity, adjust it a bit by moving the plane backwards a few centimeters, then lock it in place. I get very nice paper-thin shavings setting it up that way and no scratching issues when going backwards. And again, with a cheap 3€ plane. The secret is having the useful portions of the front and back of the blade polished to a mirror-shine (I should also polish the sole, but oh, well).

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

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