How to Use & Maintain a Hand Plane

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Hand-made tables, stools cupboards and other furniture have surfaces that are smooth. Though virtually everyone is aware of this, only a few take time to think what tool could have made these surfaces so fine. The hand plane is the tool that does this magic and is well known to both woodworkers and carpenters. Proper use and maintenance of a hand plane is essential to ensure it remains in proper working condition throughout its life. There are several types of hand planes, such as the jack plane and the fore plane, but the manner of using and maintaining them is similar for all.

  • Clamp
  • Vise
  • Hand plane
  • Spirit
  • Lubricating oil
  • Cotton rug
  • Sandpaper
  • Mineral spirits
  • Paraffin
  • Block of wood

1 Using a Plane

2 Attach the block of wood

Attach the block of wood on the work station, clasping it firmly on a clamp or wood vise. Make sure the block is at an angle of about 20 degrees so that you are working in an uphill direction.

3 Set the correct depth

Set the correct depth of cut by turning the adjusting knob behind the toe handle in a counterclockwise or clockwise direction depending on the depth you want.

4 Place the hand plane on the clamped piece of wood

Place the hand plane on the clamped piece of wood. Grip the toe and the heel handles firmly and push the plane along the clasped piece of wood smoothly and with long strokes.

5 Apply more pressure

Apply more pressure on the toe handle at the beginning of the stroke, and at the heel handle at the end of the stroke. This is essential because it ensures the ends of the block are not over planed.

6 Observe the curls

Observe the curls that are formed when you pass the plane along the block of wood. If the curls are paper thin, then the plane was set to a proper depth, but if they are thick, change the adjusting knob appropriately

7 Maintaining a Plane

8 Unfasten the screws

Unfasten the screws of the hand plane using a screwdriver to disassemble its parts. Clean the dust and rust present on the metal parts using steel wool. Apply oil on the metallic parts to prevent rusting. Rub the wooden parts with a cotton rag moistened with water.

9 Using steel wool

Clean the rust from the screws using steel wool and mineral spirits. Again, apply lubrication to prevent rust formation.

10 Spray some mineral spirits

Spray some mineral spirits on the blade and wipe any rust from it using fine sandpaper. Wipe the blade with a cotton rag and lubricate it using paraffin to prevent rust, and also to provide easier movement when shaving.

11 Reassemble all the components

Reassemble all the components and fasten them together tightly to avoid the plane coming apart while you are using it.

  • According to the second listing in the References section below, a properly set up hand plane can produce a smoother and finer appearance than wood finishing power tools.

Toronto resident Reuben James began his writing career in 2003 in the city of London. He has written articles for the English Journal, an online magazine with readership across Europe. James graduated from the London College of Communications with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. He also holds a diploma in business management from Metropolitan Business School, London.