How to Use a Hand Plane

A hand plane is a super useful tool for carpentry. This ancient tool is still befitting in the tool chest of a woodworker. It is used for shaving and flattening the surface of a piece of wood. This auspicious tool is always at your service to get a wooden surface smoothed and even.

Going pro as a craftsman may take you a long time, but every long journey begins with one first step. Learning how to use a hand plane may be the first step for you to go pro as a craftsman. This article would give you an overview of a hand plane and the process of applying the tool on a wood surface.

Start from here!

 How to Use a Hand Plane: Precise Guideline

The steps of learning woodworking information would boost your knowledge even more about carpentry, as a craftsman or as an ordinary householder. So, without further delay, let’s see what I have in store for you.

How Does It Work

A hand plane is a varnishing tool used with hands, typically 6 to 14 inches in length and 2 inches in breadth. It has an extremely sharp blade at the bottom, aiming to shave the wood’s surface precisely. The plane also has handles on the upside to grab and move back and forth.

Pushing a hand plane forward, you can accurately skin and peel the work material. With a little hand plane, you can varnish the edges of any wooden door, window, chest, and what not! You have probably wondered how a crown molding is so perfectly brought into shape, it’s the charisma of a little hand plane in the hands of a craftsman.

Tuning Your Hand Plane

To perfect your woodworking with a hand plane, you need some other tools to tune and adjust it. Whetstone, sharpening oil, and clamps are among them. Whetstone and sharpening oil are to sharpen the plane. A razor-sharp blade is essential for fine cuts. Whether you give a rough cut or fine cut, the blade must be sharpened properly.

You need to open the mouth of your hand plane 1/8 inch wide or more if it has an adjustable one for rough cuts. For fine cuts, consider 1/8 inch or less. In the case of tear-out, you can close it down.

When it comes to the plane’s chip breaker, place it 1/16 inch or more from the edge for rough cuts. As for fine cuts, keep it 1/16 of less from the edge. Different types of wood may need different adjustments —more for softwoods, less for hardwoods.

Position the iron close to the mouth as it goes parallel with the sole of the hand plane. Keep retracting the iron until it gives paper-thin shaves while giving test cuts on a test board.

Using the Hand Plane

After preparing the hand plane, it’s time to start on a real work board. Set your work material on a workbench or a high place. Use clamps to secure your work material from falling. Clamps would also prevent the piece of wood from moving and being displaced.

Get a good grip on the hand plane. I suggest you put the lower three fingers of the right hand (or dominant hand) around the tote and rest your index finger against the edge of the iron blade.

Now you are ready to push the hand plane! You need to apply enough force so that the plane doesn’t stick in the wood.

To cut off stock from wood, you have to plane at a steep diagonal in the grain direction. This cut wouldn’t make the surface smooth when you need a smooth surface, plane-parallel in the direction of the grain.

To get an accurate dimension, you need to chamfer the corners of the wood. Mark around the board using a pencil, then chamfer following the lines you’ve marked. Now plane the surface until the chamfers disappear.

Useful Tips

  • Using a hand plane in the proper direction, you have to push in the direction of the grain. Don’t ever plane cross-grain. (The grain of a piece of wood is the direction of its fibers.)
  • Plane carefully so that the work material doesn’t tear out or splinter. Planing in the direction of grain rise would help you prevent splinter.
  • In case you need to plane in the direction of the cross-grain, clamp a scrap board on the side of cross grain area. When the plane goes forward, it will tear out the scrape board, not the wood you are working on.

Safety Measures 

Using a hand plane is not a tough or risky job. But if you aren’t cautious while working with a razor-sharp blade, you are at risk. So be careful! Never position your finger or any part of your body in front of the plane.

In Closing…

That’s all! Hopefully, this article has given you a proper idea about how to use a hand plane. And remember the tips that I’ve shared while working with a hand plane. Applying these tips and tricks would get your woodworking to a new level.

Go pro with a hand plane today!