Archive

Are You Suffering From Smoothing Plane Bloat?

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Among the smoothing planes that Stanley Works made (which includes the Nos. 1 to 4), the company sold far more No. 4s than any other size, according to Stanley collectors. That was my rationale for buying a No. 4 many years ago. I still think it’s a good size for a handplane, with a 9-1/2”-long sole and 2”-wide iron, which allows you to use the iron in the No. 5 […]

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Fine -tune a Handplane’s Back Iron

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For me, the goal with my smoothing plane is to set it up so I can ignore the grain direction of a board or a glued-up panel. There are many valid ways to do this. For most woodworkers I know, there are two ways to accomplish this goal that we all agree upon: Sharpen the iron. Sharp fixes almost everything. Take a finer cut. Thin shavings reduce tear-out. After using […]

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An Experiment: Changing Smoothing Planes for a Year

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I’m the weirdo who counts the number of steps and hand motions it takes me to brew a cup of coffee. And I’m always looking for ways to shave away a few minutes here and there from my routine activities (for example, brushing my teeth while simultaneously fetching my clothes for the day). So it’s no surprise that I also do this in the shop. During the last couple years […]

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New Campaign Stool Hardware from Lee Valley

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At long last, there is a fantastic and reasonably priced tri-bolt available so you can make your own campaign stool. The hardware is beautifully machined from solid brass and stainless steel, made in Canada and is only $34.50 (U.S.). You can order it directly from Lee Valley here. I’ve made at least 20 of these folding stools using a variety of bolts and the Lee Valley version is by far […]

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Handplanes: The Long and Short of Flat

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Basic handplane theory states that long planes are for straightening wood and short planes are for smoothing it. The planes in the middle can do either job or be set up for roughing out the work. But all planes do some straightening of the work, and most planes do some smoothing, too. So this simple rule of thumb is actually a bit more complex in practice. After all, some very […]

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Northwest Timber Seeks Lumber Perfection

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While walking through the ridiculously tidy racks at Northwest Timber in Jefferson, Ore., I realized at that moment something that hadn’t fully occurred to me during the last 20 years. I am buying, transporting and storing a lot of garbage. Not “garbage” in the sense that the wood is of poor quality. But garbage in the sense that a good deal of rough stock goes into the dust collector, scrap […]

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A Tour of the Blue Spruce Factory

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Some of my favorite tools come from Blue Spruce Toolworks outside Portland, Ore. I own three of the different mallets Dave Jeske makes, plus several of his fantastic chisels and, of course, one of his marking knives. I was one of Jeske’s early customers when he started making marking knives about 13 years ago and sold them on the Internet. At the time, toolmaking was a side gig that Jeske […]

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