Reply To: What 2 hand planes to start with.


Tom, we agree more than you think. I use my bench top as a reference surface to test quickly for flatness by seeing if the work will rock. I think a flat bench is indeed desired and fully intend to build one. I also agree about the utility of having adequately flat and true work. That said, I have sensed in John a tendency to have everything perfect before proceeding. I don’t mean that as criticism because I suffer from the same. One can get so bogged down that things become glacial.

My background is physics and engineering. One key lesson one learns in those fields is that an optimized system is not made of optimized components. It is made of balanced components. If one optimizes components in isolation of each other, one can even make the individual components unsuitable for integration into the system.

I like to say, “Something for everything before anything gets better.” That’s really where I’m headed with my comments here. I really agree with almost everything that you have written, but I was afraid they may spur John towards perfecting things individually before establishing the context of working on a project to tell him when to care and when not to care. I remember when I started reading so much about making fine, perfect fluffy shavings that I wasted time using finishing cuts when I was dimensioning or finishing surfaces beyond what was needed for accurate joinery even though, after glue up, further planing would be needed for joint cleanup, planing that would push me back planing that was almost dimensional, undoing the finishing work. At the same time, some surfaces *must* be brought to final finish level before glue up because if you plane them after cutting joints you can open up gaps. So, really what I am saying is for John to get into projects to give him context and to point out that hand tool usage is, in many ways, different from machine based building. One thinks differently. If you think of your plane as a human powered surface planer, I think much time can be wasted.

John, no disrespect is intended. As I said, I have this same tendency and am trying to save you from some of the mistakes I made. Well, not mistakes. I learned from them, but it wasn’t efficient. Maybe I’m projected me onto you. My apologies if this sounds negative in any way. It isn’t intended to be.

(I really do cuss about my bench _all_ the time….and then move on to the next project, grab my toothing plane, and flatten a section well enough in 3 minutes to handle the current work. It really needs to be dealt with, but I keep surviving. My guess is that this is the year I actually take the time to put things aside and deal with this…mostly because my vise is creaking and seems ready to fall off. 🙂

  • This reply was modified 4 weeks ago by Ed.