Hand Plane Basics

Planes are used to  shape, flatten, reduce the thickness, and impart a smooth surface to a rough piece of lumber.  When a wood  piece is large a shape planer can produce a flat inclined surface.

hand plane

Hand Planes

Hand planes have become a healthy obsession for many of us. While some prefer to seek out antiques and restore them to perfect working order, and others, who specialize in reproduction furniture, will go all out to get a hold of period planes, to permit them to follow along the same path as the old period masters.


Planes are used to level off wood and for finishing prior to sanding, painting and sealing. A range of planes have been developed and they each have a different, but specific, use. When working with planes remember it is best to work with the grain as this allows for easier use.

Hand Planes

There are many different styles of hand planes some made of steel, others made from wood. Most are meant to smooth the surface, there are some with blades designed to cut profiles but with the advent of the router these are less common.

Choosing and Using Hand Wood Planes

Hand wood planes are used to smooth, shape and straighten wood. Although power tools have replaced many of the functions of wood planes, most craftsman still have several of these versatile tools in their arsenal.

Choosing and Using Hand Planes

Time was, a hand plane was an indispensable tool, used to smooth, shape, and straighten just about every piece of wood in a house. The typical carpenter lugged around a whole chestful of planes, each with its own special function. Today, power tools — routers, jointers, belt sanders, and power planers — do the same tasks much faster, relegating many old planes to the shelves of collectors.

Keeping Your Plane Like New

The trouble with hand planes is that, in using them, they invariably get dirty. The consolation is, keeping them looking like new is pretty straightforward.  Remove any rust preventative this with a rag dampened with mineral spirits. Clean all machined surfaces, including the area under the nose and the toe itself, as applicable to your plane. Other plane manufacturers may ship their planes with lacquer on the blade, sole and cheeks. If this is the case with your plane, you should take it off.

How to use a Hand Plane

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