Set The Record Straight: Just Plane History

02_STRS_OpenerIf you’re just beginning to build or you’re looking to increase your woodworking skills, you’re inundated with a lot of information and opinion, some of which is malarkey and some is not. The idea that you have to work only with hand tools from years ago to be classified as a true woodworker is something that raises the little hairs on the back of my neck.

Early metal-bodied planes were made of iron that rusted, so the idea was to attach the lateral and fine-tune adjustments to wooden bodies.

Working in the old style doesn’t mean that you have to work with hand planes – I own power tools, machines if you will, that predate many hand planes.

Proper woodworking, however, does include hand planes; we all should be working with both power and hand tools just as has been done for years. Power tools do the brunt of the work (the lesser skilled parts of woodworking), and hand tools come out when the work needs to be fine-tuned and fit. Some feel that woodworkers in the 18th and early 19th centuries worked the same way, but used their apprentices to do the lesser-skilled work of preparing the parts and panels.

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5 thoughts on “Set The Record Straight: Just Plane History

  1. Ron-love your enthusiasm. Don’t curb it. Saw you at WIA back in 2010 and was very impressed with your knowledge, so I have a question for you. I recently picked up a Stanley Bailey 27-1/2 wood/metal plane. (See-no “transitional”.) It has a lateral adjuster and is a jack plane. It is in pretty good condition with all original parts. (Cost-$35) The blade needed flattening of the back and sharpening-no big deal-and has just a little pitting. The sole, however, is crowned slightly in both the width and the length which, as you noted, is to be expected. The mouth is relatively small and I prefer to not open it up any more than needed. Absolutely no chatter. And it now planes better than any other jack plane that I have used. It is great. Is there really any reason for me to flatten the sole or can I just leave it be? If I do the latter, I will need to round over the corners of the blade more in order to avoid plane tracks, but that’s alright with me. What are your thoughts? Thanks.

  2. Excellent information Ron.
    It’s great to hear this from a guy who really knows his stuff.
    I have the three planes you said you could get by with and haven’t regretted getting any more.
    You sure have a wealth of stock in the background of your video…holy smokes !

    Thanks again.
    360woodworking rules !
    central Florida

  3. Ron,

    Excellent! I met Ron when I took his 1/2 day class in Kansas City at the Woodworking Shows! I will never look at a piece of wood the same! And that’s a good thing!!!

    Thanks for the great information on planes! Keep it coming please. And 360 what an excellent contributor to your line up and new site!


  4. Big fan of Ron Herman – I’m a detail oriented guy but mostly for the things that make a practical difference for me. Ron seems of a similar mindset. One of the first videos I watched as I was getting into woodworking was Ron’s DVD ‘Understanding Wood’ – I figure if I’m gonna learn how to build I should know as much as I can about the substrate! Never thought hearing someone talk about wood for a few hours could be that interesting haha Great job Ron and I hope to see more of your stuff here at 360! I love Chuck and Glen’s stuff too but it might make the difference between me staying a subscriber or not!


    1. Brady,

      So many good comedic lines, but I’ll behave…

      Ron’s part of every issue of 360 so, there’s plenty to come. And 360 is far more than just me, Glen or Ron. We have lots of others contributing to the our little project – some you’ll know and others we hope you’ll come to know. The common thread with all the contributors to 360 is that they are all accomplished woodworkers, not people who tried something last week and are writing/teaching it this week. Stick around, lots of great stuff in store.

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