Below are two handplaning techniques from Robert Wearing’s “The Solution at Hand.” Wearing was one of the foremost experts on woodworking appliances; he wrote extensively about them for Woodworker magazine and published a number of books on the topic. In 2019, we approached Wearing about collecting the best of the appliances for handwork into one new book, and he agreed.
The result is “The Solution at Hand: Jigs & Fixtures to Make Benchwork Easier,” a hardbound book of our favorite jigs from Wearing’s career. The book covers a wide swath of material, from building workbench appliances for planing, to making handscrews (and many other ingenious clamps), some simple tools that you cannot buy anywhere else, to marking devices that make complex tasks easier.
Thin strips of identical thickness, such as may be required for laminating, can be accurately produced by handplaning by means of a simple jig. This consists of a base-block, A, and two rebated side members, B. The space between the two rebates must just allow free movement of the chosen jack plane. A projects below B, to be held in the vice.
The sides are glued and pinned in place using an assembly block with a true face in the plane position and a piece of ply, card or suitable spacing material of the required thickness. The illustration makes this clear. When complete, an end stop, C, is fitted.
Modifications: For the making of stringings for inlaying or musical instrument making, grooves are ploughed or cut on the circular saw in the baseblock A. In this case there is no need for rebated sides. Very thin pieces will tend to buckle when planed against a stop. This is overcome by cutting away some of the baseblock and pinning on the workpiece below the level of the blade. In this case, of course, the components and the jig must be made extra long.
An adjustable model can be made by slotting and screwing on the sides. The adjustment is made using the same method as when gluing on the sides to the simple model. Solid wood keys for reinforcing mitre joints can be produced in this manner.
Handplaning Very Small Components
Very small components can best be planed by holding a plane upside down in the vice and pushing the workpiece over the blade. As this method gives every chance of shaving off the fingertips, a push stick is an advantage. Even better is this simple planing device. It consists of a hardwood base with a firmly secured handle. Guide pieces, thinner than the finished job, can be pinned or glued on so that they can be changed when the aid is used for another job.