Getting Started with Hand Planes

Given the importance of hand planes in woodworking, this is a must-read book for anyone new to the craft.

Getting Started with Hand Planes

Getting Started with Hand Planes

Regardless of how pervasive powered tools have become in workshops, the hand plane remains one of the defining tools in the woodworker's repertoire. Over the thirty years I've been involved in the craft I've rarely met anyone indifferent to the tool - in general people seem to be enamoured with it's mystique, and once they learn how to use the tool, are captivated by its functionality. It's no surprise that we're experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in hand planes – both in terms of the number of new plane makers cropping up all over the continent, and courses being offered by woodworking schools.

The key here is learning how to use the tool. In my experience, novice woodworkers can become disillusioned with hand planes fairly quickly when they haven't learned how to properly set-up and use the tools. Initial expectations are generally high, while the first attempts at using the tool are often disappointing.

Taking a hands-on course is really the best way to learn how to use a hand plane properly. Whether or not a course is in the cards you'll also want to resort to a good instruction book or video.

Those new to woodworking, and anyone who feels a need to enhance their hand planing skills, will do well to get a copy of Scott Wynn's "Getting Started with Hand Planes" – it's a superb reference book that covers choosing, setting up, and using hand planes.

The author is both a practicing architect and avid woodworker with six books under his belt, along with a stack of articles published in Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, and Woodwork magazine. You'll find out more about him on his website.


The book is well written with clear explanations of what to look for and what you need to focus on to enhance your hand planing technique. Everything is supplemented by copious illustrations – many are half and full page in size so that you can see details clearly. 

The chapters are in a logical sequence. Scott begins with a concise explanation of blade steel, provides a practical explanation of how plane blades cut wood, discusses the most common hand planes you'll want to use in the shop, outlines what's important in selecting your first hand planes, and discusses how to set-up the hand plane. He also covers, albeit in a more condensed format, how to sharpen plane blades, and ends with some advice on using various hand planing jigs and accessories.


There is a wealth of solid, practical information in this book. It's certainly not a 'read once and then shelf' book, rather its one that you'll likely want to use in the workshop – especially so for those who are buying their first hand planes.

Of course, reading this book won't make you a better hand tool user, only constant practice will achieve that goal. But, "Getting Started with Hand Planes" will set you on the right path.


  • Smooth
  • Sharp 
  • Tactics for Achieving Best Performance
  • Anatomy
  • Bench Planes
  • Choosing Your First Plane
  • Plane Setup
  • Sharpening Plane Blades
  • Bench Work
  • Making & Using Shooting Boards
PUBLISHER:Fox Chapel Publishing
AVAILABLE FROM:Your local bookseller or online
FORMAT:Softcover, 166 pages
AUTHOR:Scott Wynn

Carl Duguay
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