Is it Helpful or No?

Almost all magazines do it! From the ‘10 best bike seats‘ and riding gear to the ’10 best nail clippers’. We punch in the keys to find the information we need so we can buy into the item we are looking for, secure in the knowledge that we won’t look like fools if we can say, “But the reviews were great!”

In our case, it’s the reviews woodworking magazines give us from time to time that can often be more unhelpful than helpful. So too sponsored beings on YouTube channels. I recently posted a video on the uselessness and usefulness of block planes–those solid little rascals that in most woodworkers’ lives are more likely to gather dust in a tool tray or workshop shelf than from practical applications in use. I have several and a couple on my shelf behind me, but never included even one of them in my classes with class attendees going well over 6,500 in number over a 30-year span. I have heard people respond to me when I have demoed at a show that they use theirs all day long in place of a smoothing plane. I walk away from the conversation knowing that that is not likely to be true.

Most often, of course, we tend to defend our purchases and respond accordingly. I do own some, as I say, but I don’t rely on them for any task at all in my general woodworking and furniture making. In my world of lifetime, lifestyle woodworking, they are more a luxury with little benefit. A bit like owning a high-end plane that does no more than a vintage Stanley or Record. If someone wants to buy a block plane, then they should just buy one. They can be handy from time to time, but they are, in general, nonessential. (See me here on this). On the other hand, if you are a modeler, an instrument maker, something like that, they might be the more essential tool.

I read about spokeshaves in a magazine and of course, there is nothing new under the sun. It was this maker or that user’s opinion with little based on much reality and being in the saddle for more than a few minutes or even a few hours. Wooden ones and vintage ones, new ones and metal ones were all included for this illusional ‘fairness‘ to include all that we all seem to live under these days. I was making my rocking chair and carving seats, shaping and shaving arches and rounding over curved parts and chamfers day in day out for six weeks.

Had I read this article I might have plumbed for this Veritas ‘high-end’ or that Lie Nielsen Boggs version or perhaps dived into eBay to buy this vintage version that is no longer made. I have faced this dilemma for decades with each and every generation of magazine. Editors’ choice comes usually from someone who never really worked wood. A good example in the past was Fine Woodworking, but there were others too. Not with every editor there, but definitely some. I am not saying a content like this here and there is of zero value, just that we need to expand our horizons beyond the editorial’s of magazines, that’s all. Remember I bought some Chinese made diamond plates six months ago and someone said that their diamonds had sloughed off almost immediately? Well, I’m still using mine with no signs of deterioration whatsoever. My £10 for three paid off. I’ll let you know when they start to slow down. The point is of course that we need a starting point. My starting point is a plain Jane #151, be it Record or Stanley. I’m still trying to wear mine out after 50 years of daily use.

Ultimately, the conclusion steers you to the ultimate opinion to buy this or that version. But here, here at my workbench, during a single day’s woodworking, I noticed that I had pulled out half a dozen from my arsenal. I know, but don’t judge me, it’s a luxury I have from never passing up a bargain at a flea market where one or two were sold for 50 pence and then again starting and or owning different woodworking schools on two continents. When it comes to many tools, often, not always, there is no one-size-fits-all tool. Green woodworkers making a chair in a class will plumb for whatever the teachers is using and recommending and then indeed, actually selling at the site.

Whereas it may be helpful when an experienced woodworker declares the one to get is this or that, at the workbench, in the making zone, in the reality of day to day woodworking, I have given myself many choices. My research, my testing and trialing, my daily grind as a furniture designing, making, selling user has told me that this spokeshave will work great on green wood whereas another will tackle what I use 99.99% of the time–dry, cured, seasoned hard, dense-grained wood. On some woods, a blade-soled spokeshave (that’s a bevel-up version) can and will stammer and stutter across a surface and a bevel-down spokeshave will not, and this is the reality of woodworking with spokeshaves. I put one shave down and lift another to task knowing that I should have known better than to use a bevel-up instead of a bevel down and that the consequences of my laziness deserved a slap on the wrist.

Remember that there is no substitute for the relational knowledge you will acquire moving forward into your woodworking future. Owning several planes and chisels, spokeshaves and saws may not be a luxury so much as simply very practical. You all know that I recommend the #4, basic Stanley plane with no retrofitted parts and perhaps a more vintage model off of eBay over say a so-called high-end version from Asia, the North American continent or indeed the UK. In my view the architect of them all was indeed the lone inventor and entrepreneur, Leonard Bailey, a plane made all the more famous by the Stanley range of mass-made bench planes. Wood River and Quang Sheng, Juuma from Asia, Lie Nielsen, Clifton, Record, Marples, I Sorby and many many others are all knock-offs of the basic Leanorad Bailey- and Bedrock-pattern Stanely versions. No one of them invented anything on their planes though some did improve the engineering qualities to the shame of British-made versions.

My spokeshaves interplayed my working on three rocking chairs over six weeks of making and designing and redesigning. I found it very freeing to pull one over the other according to wood density, wood type, grain type, task, grain orientations and so on. Very freeing and very rewarding. Do you need them all at once? No! Do you need only all-wooden versions? No! Do metal ones last longer? Of course they do! Should I just buy a metal one then? No! Should I buy a professionally made one? Not at all, make your own too. They are enjoyable to make, work exceptionally well and will probably last you a lifetime if combined with using other spokeshaves side by side!

Apply this to all of your other tools and you will find the differences between the versions will not be written in articles selling mostly opinions and not necessarily the helpful information you get from working at the workbench in the making of pieces. There are indeed two ways of knowing: reading or even watching and then there is doing. The doing is the relational knowledge that spans all of the senses in use . . . and I am not simply talking about the five well-known senses here. Trust the gut feelings too. There are 25 more that we know and understand very little of.

76 thoughts on “Is it Helpful or No?”

  1. Perfectly stated, your words echo my sentiment regarding tool reviews and recommendations. Too often we suffer the bombardment of tool reviews from content creators and publications. Prior to a tool purchase I’m sure most of us will seek out reviews or recommendations, but the sheer amount of content available can often paralyze our ambition. Thank you for creating honest, helpful content and for always encouraging me to get into the shop.

    1. Scott Swineford

      I would echo your opinion on magazine and some YouTube channels “recommendations”. I was fortunate to inherent some of my grandfather’s planes and can’t seem to stop my compulsion to make more. I don’t have or desire display models though I have acquired a few odd types. I love the weird collection of spokeshaves I’ve bought and built, they fit my old hands better than the lonely block planes.

  2. Recently got a red Record 151 for my niece and nephew to introduce to woodworking (me too). I have a Falcon 151. A joy to use. In my limited energy so far

    1. Everything in the world is the same, we can’t figure out what we need and what we want and then we are told that our needs are much much greater and not educated how to make our own way independent of business and government and external forces whatever. Even ethics have to be totally policed because the principle of the matter isn’t known and no time has been put reckoning on the topic — it’s like fighting an addiction; can you just stop the habit? No u need a new habit and direction with hope.
      How does this apply to tools…?

  3. As I continue down the path of learning woodworking, I find that I’m getting rid of tools – not acquiring more. And though I’ve been at it for a number of years now, I know that the tools are still better than I am.

  4. Investors been killing electrons in a hobbyist garage shop for the past 20 years. I bought my first hand plane (Woodriver 5 1/2) in March, just before Covid blew up. I’ve bought several since then, finding that I really enjoy actually working the wood, instead of just cutting it. I’m fortunate to be able to afford some nice tools, having a good paying job that I’ve worked at for 30 years…mostly desk work the past 15. And I sold my table saw and bought a couple vintage Disstons and some saw files. After 20 years of woodworking, I’m actually learning how to work wood. This year I’ve spent more time in my garage shop than any other time in my production history. It’s been very enjoyable and very rewarding from a sweat equity perspective. Thanks for the content and the truth telling, I enjoy your opinions.

  5. Robin Alexander

    I like many, I think have an attraction to woodworking tools, is this a bad thing (???) I think not. Block planes I have a few, I have new hand planes and old, they all give me joy when I use them ( and this is the point ). My favourite tools are an Acorn no.5, my Clifton no.5 1/2, my Stanley 55 (100 years old), my Stanley 45, 88 years old, my Stanley sweet heart spokes shave 100 years old still works in fact they all work. I like nice things new or old, and I think we all have one thing in common, woodworking that’s all that matters. I like watching Paul work and I have his dvds and a book most enjoyable. Cheers.

  6. Magazine and online reviews and recommandations are supposed to save time and steer potential buyers towards the best product in a given category, but with experience and subject matter expertise on a few random topics, I have come to the conclusion that they are mostly useless, and quite often driven by advertising/marketing considerations (the Best xxx of the Year being an example of the latter). These reviews help expose a few features that may be available on only a few variants of a product and may save the potential buyer the time it takes to compare some objective data such as size, weight, etc. but that’s about it.

    Based on my experience, when it comes to woodworking tools, I would definitely abide by Paul’s advice, as it has served me extremely well in the past and as your priorities align with mine. I have lost interest in the specialised press and quite a few ‘gear heavy’ on-line sources as I learned I couldn’t trust their advice.

    Thank you!

  7. It has been my observation in recent years, from speaking with woodworkers and reading on various woodworking internet sites, that hand tool woodworkers too are afflicted by the need for the “latest and greatest” and most costly tools. An expensive, finely finished and highly rated new hand plane, spokesman or saw will not bring with it an iota of ability or experience any more than the most expensive set of clubs will make one a better golfer. It is easy to forget that the makers of the “latest and greatest” hand tools are in the business to make money which requires marketing and sales.
    Thank you Paul for stressing knowledge of woods and how to work it more than equipment!
    Don Howe

  8. Paul had a ‘George’ when he started out woodworking, and I had a ‘Cyril’. Between them, these two men possessed more woodworking wisdom than a hundred magazine editors. A ‘review’ from George or Cyril actually meant something, for they knew the tools and had the advantage of knowing the person who intended to use them – which of course, editors do not.

    Cyril it was who told me not to buy an expensive plane unless I could really afford it, and held up his battered old Stanley #4. “I’ve used this for the past thirty-odd years, do you see anything wrong with my work?” Point taken, and I’m reminded of those words when I listen to Paul.

    Let the editors and the “sponsored beings” get on with it, and listen to the Georges, Cyrils, and Pauls of this world – men with no axe to grind, who simply offer experience and integrity.

  9. My tuppence on block planes: I recently (re-)saw a government of Canada produced film on YouTube, which I believe I was shown in school, touting the benefits, and choices, of a career in carpentry. One little scene demonstrates the actual, daily use of a block plane where virtually no other tool would work. Cabinet fitting – drawers in this case – on new development building site. These days I suspect that kind of high volume, short deadline work is all done with power tools, or off-site in a pre-fab environment, but that *was* the way.

  10. I find that all the tools I own (not too many) work well for their task, regardless of their manufacturer or price. I own one very expensive Lie Nielson plane (#5 1/2) and it is great for certain tasks. It is not better, however, than my cheap old wooden planes, which I use for other tasks. The better I know my tools, the better they work for me. That´s my experience and that’s why I am rather reluctant to by something new.

  11. I have a few block planes and I use them all the time but never as a smoothing plane, that would be quite difficult I imagine. Mostly to remove sharp edges now I think about it. I like that they are lightweight and easy to handle with one hand.
    I do have one “high end” block plane that I thought I needed only to find it was too heavy for what I wanted. It sits in its holder looking pretty most of the time, a reminder that sometimes we make mistakes.
    I find as I get older ( and hopefully a little wiser) that I really think about a new tool and how I’m going to use it before I spend anymore money. Tools really need to earn a place in your shop by being useful.

  12. OMG rating things based on useless bells and whistles rather than function is an outrange not limited to tools!!! Take cookware – you can buy a cast iron sauté pan for ~$15usd vs a top end version for over $300usd. I can almost guarantee that for both daily and “high end” cooking the cast iron is easier to use and maintain! With either option you need to learn, pay attention to all your senses, and go at the speed you feel comfortable with. You know all the things Paul keeps teaching.

    That said – the one tool that always seems expensive is the plough plane. Granted it’s a complex tool, and you can make the poor man’s version, but a decent low-cost (>$100) would be nice.

    As always, thanks Paul and team!

  13. Paul, since when does Fine Woodworking feature articles by non-woodworkers? You may disagree with their findings but they have a large number of long term contributors many who are critically acclaimed.

    Thrift is great but so is supporting people like Rob Lee or Thomas Lie-Nielsen who offer well made tools that will work right out of the box. They also provide jobs and pay taxes. Hardly a reason to hold the makers or buyers in contempt.

    1. You should quote me fairly and accurately, Steve. You’ve substantially exaggerated what I actually said, soforclarity here it is. What I said exactly was:

      “Editors’ choice comes usually from someone who never really worked wood. A good example in the past was Fine Woodworking, but there were others too. Not with every editor there, but definitely some. I am not saying a content like this here and there is of zero value, just that we need to expand our horizons beyond the editorial’s of magazines, that’s all.

      And I can indeed give you a list of editors I have worked with both all over the USA and here in the UK too. Oh, and it was an editor of Fine Woodworking that called me to ask if I would write for them. When I offered different articles, he called me and said these are too detailed. I need smaller things that will keep the audience coming back. Hmm. This is true and it is from my experience. I trust myself in this. Oh, and I wasn’t miffed at all. I was glad. I didn’t want to be a change of wallpaper for a magazine. I wrote for five US magazines and many articles and not one of the editors was actually a woodworker. You changed my word editor to contributors, Steve. Why?

      As to the remainder of your response tax-paying businesses, employers, and so on, where did this come from from what I wrote. These are both good tool makers. I find Veritas and Robin Lee to be innovative designers. they were not listed with those producing knock-off planes. No doubt they are good makers in both camps! I like their tools their engineering standards but I personally find that some of their planes are far too heavy.

      1. The reason I used the word contributor is that the reviews are not typically written by the editors. I never considered “Editor’s Choice” to overrule the opinion of an article’s author. I will agree that some of FWW’s editors over the years have been less than stellar but I doubt that they bother too much about which combo square gets an Editor’s Choice award.

        This was your comment about the LN and LV tools:
        In my world of lifetime, lifestyle woodworking, they are more a luxury with little benefit. A bit like owning a high-end plane that does no more than a vintage Stanley or Record.

        Then this:
        You all know that I recommend the #4, basic Stanley plane with no retrofitted parts and perhaps a more vintage model off of eBay over say a so-called high-end version from Asia, the North American continent or indeed the UK.

        Both of those comments dismiss LN and LV as luxury items. You had already been in the business for many years when these companies started and already owned your tools. The current crop of new woodworkers need to source tools either from a new maker or take their chances on 70-120 year old tools.

        1. Okay, Steve, I can drop this here. I make no apology for what I said and feel because I did no damage and what is said is said and true. Editor’s choice is the editor’s choice! As I understand it, these two companies cannot keep up with the demand for their planes, due in great part to my work I might say and the work of others a few of whom genuinely work to restore the power of handwork. The “current crop of new woodworkers” will have enough planes via eBay to develop and hone their skills and understanding of the bench plane by stripping one down and restoring it; much better than buying one “ready to go from the box.” eBay will indeed be a lifetime supplier because of course, the demand will never outstrip supply as there are more planes in cellars and sheds than there could ever be a demand for. This alone makes me very happy and I enjoyed your input too, thank you!

        2. Having been in the business many years is not a factor. As you can still get a brand new Stanley hand plane today that with some setup will do the job. I just watched a video series (Setting Up a Random New Mexico Stanley) of a guy (DavidW) that bought a plane on Amazon and went through it all on YouTube. From box to shavings. It still costs 10 times more ($50ish) than used planes go for here. But it is 5 times less than what the boutique tool makers charge for their wares.

          Most of us do not need Lie-Nielsen tools. Nor would our work improve if we had them. So they are most definitely luxury items. I’m sure they’re real nice. I’m also sure I’ll never own one. Not unless I find one for sale used for cheap.

  14. Thanks Paul. I have been following you for 4 (maybe 5 years). In that time, I have come to realize that you give great advice. The times I don’t listen, I later find I end up with a tool I don’t need or don’t use much.

    I do own both a classic No. 4 and a high end one. I can say, you are absolutely correct in that the end results are the same. In fact, if I could only keep one No. 4 hand plane, it would be the Craftsman No. 4 hand plane I paid $25 or $30 for that was in like new shape. I use it as my scrub plane to hog off most of the wood. It is by far my most favorite tool.

    Another example, my 2″ chisel. I’ve had it for 9 months. I used it for the first time this weekend. Meanwhile, my 1″ chisel gets used nearly every time I am woodworking.

    The list goes on. At some point, I will sell these excess tools on eBay and use the money to buy more wood.

  15. Alan - planesaw

    Paul, I was very surprised (and disappointed) to read your comment where you functionally called some woodworkers to be liars, regarding block planes, when you wrote, “. . . that they use theirs’ all day long in place of a smoothing plane. I walk away from the conversation knowing that that is not likely to be true.”
    As experienced and knowledgeable as you are, there are many woodworkers who make things that you don’t make. Or make differently than you do. To denigrate them seems somewhat out of character for you. Definitely not in any way needed in your column today.

    On certain of my projects, I will spend 2 to 3 days at my shaving horse using only drawknife, block plane, and spokeshave. Although what I said is true, whether you believe me, or not, is irrelevant. But, I will still point young or old new woodworkers to your website and writings, among many others who are knowledgeable and good teachers. And, everyone of them has their unique ways of doing things.

    1. Block planes certainly have their uses. Not sure if one of those uses is replacing a smoothing plane though. Just saying.

  16. I love your stuff, and have learned a ton from your videos and articles. But as someone new to woodworking I often don’t know what I need or even recognize it. I love old tools, but as a result I am often spending a lot more time fettling tools than working wood. I think you sometimes underestimate the learning curve for people trying to learn from books and videos without a clear idea of how to even recognize when they got things right.

    My first and only new hand plane was a low angle stanley from the local hardware store. I bought it to fix miters on molding corners. It worked fine for that. Since I had no work bench or vise, I doubt I would have been better off trying to use a bench plane with one hand on the end of a small narrow board. I now have several block planes picked up at garage sales that I have certainly spent more time fettling than using. They occasionally get used to chamfer edges.

    While you advocate the use of a number 4 for most things, I have noted that you actually seem to have several different planes set up for different jobs. A breakdown of how you fettle planes for different purposes would be helpful.

    There seems to be a wide range of opinions of whether plane blades should have cambers, be straight across, eased corners and which ones fit into each category. For instance, I have seen people say jointers, 7’s and 8’s , should be sharpened flat and others saying they should be sharpened more like a smoothing plane with a slight camber. In some cases there seems to be a difference in how these people expect the plane to be used. I am more interested in how to set a plane up for a specific use than whether to use a 4,5 or 7 or 3 or 8 or 6 or …

    1. You have to do the research, Ross. Dig into the backgrounds a little and you’ll find plane salesmen-cum-teachers who found that in the land of the blind their one-eyed ability would make them king. “A breakdown of how you fettle planes for different purposes would be helpful.” Well, again, with thousands of blogs and articles I have laboured over for decades, the curriculum I have written and hundreds of videos to say nothing of a foundational course in hand tool woodworking and then my latest book, Essential Woodworking Hand Tools, I have already done far more than you are asking. Just pick who you want to follow, a tool salesman or woman, or an artisan who never holds back from telling the truth and never takes sponsorship from anyone.

      1. Paul –

        I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I suppose if I read and absorbed everything you said or wrote that you have covered any topic multiple times. But I want to leave some time to actually learn how to do woodworking rather than just know about it. What I was hoping for was a discussion of different plane set ups all in one place.

        I understand that part of your message is that one number 4 plane is sufficient to do good woodworking, but in fact I have multiple planes, including block planes, because I can’t pass up a deal. But they are sharpened in a smorgasbord of styles all set up to get fluffy shavings.

        I just watched your video on making a scrub plane and it was a perfect use of the 5 1/4 stanley I had picked up. It’s a narrow number 5 that stanley apparently made for schools when schools still taught kids to use hand tools. It seems to work great, although I haven’t opened the throat on it. Its certainly works better for the purpose than the number 4 or 5’s that I have sharpened to take fluffy shavings. I would like to figure out how to make some others that I can use to do one job well.

  17. “From the ‘10 best bike seats‘ and riding gear to the ’10 best nail clippers’.”

    This quest for the best product always struck me as odd. I don’t desire the best. Good enough is… good enough. Satisficing vs. optimizing. Once a product passes a minimum threshold it’s all fine. After a point, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. I’m sure there’s a better fountain pen out there than the one that has been sitting in my shirt-pocket for the past 35 years, but it does the job satisfactorily, so have no desire of changing.

    Similarly, any bicycle saddle that doesn’t result in a painful posterior is good enough for me. But of course, the best saddle is no saddle – nothing beats the seat of my recumbent bike.

    I have a few of those ‘little rascal’ block planes you describe, and have used only one of them, and that only a very few times (60 1/2 or 61 1/2, IIRC – tried checking it but it’s so far out of reach behind other things I’d have to re-organize the shop to get access to it. That says something of how often it’s used). Not my favourite plane. Relatively heavy and awkward to hold, compared to a #4 or #3. And yet, if I come across another blockplane for what is, basically, scrap iron prices, home it comes too. And so the tool collection slowly grows. But ironically, in a sea of chisels, it’s a set of 4 chisels that get to do all the work, and of those 4, there’s one that sees 80% of the action. Same with saws. Or planes: the #4 smooth gets used the most, then the #4 scrub, followed in the distance by the #7 (would probably be a #5 if I had one). Vilfredo Pareto was on to something when he formalized the Pareto principle.

    Sponsored beings on YouTube… I’ve often pondered that, if you were a 20-something young lady in a tight T-shirt and short shorts, you’d have 10 times the views you do now. Without mentioning channel names (‘Proudly sponsored by R*ckler’), I’m sure you know what I’m talking of. Can’t take them too seriously. Most reviews give very little information that I couldn’t have found myself with a few minutes of using a search engine. Doubt that quite some reviewers have put in more effort than an online search.

    When a few years ago I heard a neighbour saying that if he gave (pre-emptively, before having stayed there) a good review to the hotel they would be staying in, they’d get a 10% discount. That, to me, sums up the value of reviews by the general public. Have little doubt that most reviews are simply bought.

    1. You don’t have a #5? Sell your cloak and get one! Fives are my favorite all around hand plane. It is like the fairy tale, not too big not too small. It isn’t a big jointer and it isn’t a short smoother. But you can joint and smooth with it just the same. It is the one plane to rule them all! Fives are the jack of all trades planes. I must have 5 or 6 five sized planes. Some setup to scrub and some to smooth. Some just collect dust. But I love them all just the same. They are a joy to use.

  18. My first plane was a block plane, given to me by my grandfather. A little Stanley one, I was really disappointed as at about 9 years old, I thought the plane in the box was going to be an Airfix kit with a couple of wings and a tube of glue.
    After the initial shock, I found it quite handy until my father over-tightened the screw and the casting snapped. I now have 4 block planes, a couple of Stanleys and a couple of Quiansheng the Stanleys inherited and the others purchased. I use them all the time in kayak building and like using them, though not for smoothing. I tried smoothing with them and it was a disaster so I’ll stick to trimming and chamfering.

  19. I’d like to add, put your hands on as many possible planes, spokeshaves, what have you, as you can. I had years in the trades before I held a block plane that fit right in my hand, the shape, the heft, it all just worked. For me, same with spokeshaves…without a doubt my favorite tool, but grab only from a few each time. It’s hard to try a variety, but worth it before spending too much cash. Ah!–and a good reminder that I own too many that I don’t work with.

  20. Yes I’m a YouTube subscriber. I have unsubscribed to quite a few channels because they have turned into advertising windows. I don’t come anywhere close to you Paul, but have been at it for over 30 years as a passion. Yes I can’t help picking up a bargain, so call me a collector. But at the end of the day I have a dozen or so favorite tools and the rest are eye candy. Ive even made quite a few from your tutorials. Block plane. Yes I have one. Does it get used? yes occasionally. for something like chamering the decorative through tenons. Do I need it? no.

  21. I’m glad you mentioned the diamond plates Paul. After reading your blog post,about them, back in March (I think it was) . I ordered a set off ali express. I remember they came just after we went into the first lockdown.
    Anyway, I am more than happy with the quality of the stones. I am still using the same stones almost a year later and they are showing no signs of failing me yet.
    40 strokes ( 30 seconds more or less) on the course stone raises a nice burr and within a minute I have a razor sharp edge to take to the strop.
    I sharpen often, perhaps every hour or so. So the stones are getting plenty of use.
    So I would like to say thanks for introducing them in your blog. At this rate I could buy 15 sets for the price of the thicker stones and probably never need to buy diamond stones again.

    1. I also have been using the eBay diamond stones for a good while (I ordered the first set a bit before you mentioned them on the blog, and then got a second set) and they are working fine.
      My first set I stuck three side by side on a Paul Sellers style plywood base, for sharpening chisels and plane irons. The second set I stuck to individual blocks of wood the exact size of the plate, so I can use them in the same manner as a traditional sharpening stone for sharpening knives (where using the three stones side by side on the same base is a pain, as the adjacent plates get in the way).

      I use them with a spray consisting of one teaspoon of baby shampoo diluted in 500ml (or so) of water (this solution was recommended for applying self adhesive vinyl films, so I had some made up for this purpose, and I discovered it works well for sharpening too – and much cheaper than auto glass cleaner!)

      I have noticed the plates have increased in price to around £6 each now (must be getting more popular!) but are still great value.

    2. I bought a set (4) of EZE-LAP diamond stones. I never could tell much difference between the Coarse and Medium. The diamonds sharpen well and seem to keep cutting. The problem is they have slowed way down, not because of poor diamond quality, but because a diamond that is no longer adhered to the backing plate is useless. There are patches all over the stones where the diamonds have de-bonded. They are several years old in age, but if I was able to use them as much as Paul, they might be a month old in actual use.
      I built up a pretty good tool kits for woodworking and mechanics by considering reviews. I avoided a lot of junk and also some overpriced products. When I bought a Makita BO5021 random orbital sander after reading a comparison review in which it was highly rated for not leaving swirl marks, I was laughed at. Told that ALL left swirl marks. I can’t say why, but I have NEVER seen it leave a swirl mark, even when I put my weight on it trying force it to. Guess I got the last laugh! I have seen horrible swirl marks from “high-end” cabinet shops on kitchen cabinets that cost more than my house.
      At one point, I got some crazy idea I needed a scraper plane. No reviews as no one but Kunz was making them. Supposedly, you could fettle them and make them work better. Yeah, it worked better, but still no good. One of a few really bad buying decisions I ever made. I did learn a brand to never buy.

    3. I use ali diamond plates and I get them to work for me. I’m sure expensive ones are nicer. But I have no real complaints with the cheap Chinese ones. I can buy 10 cheap plates for what one expensive plate costs too. There’s no way the expensive ones are 10 times nicer.

  22. I’m retired. I spent 26 years in the woodworking industry and now I spend my days in a labour of love in my own shop, doing things for myself. Right now it is building a boat. I have made furniture. I have made 3 violins and a viola. I finally made the workbench I always wanted. Each task requires its own tools. I find my Lee Valley low angle block plane in my hand at some point almost every day. It feels good to the touch and works well under my direction. There are other tools in my collection that get used less often, and some not at all. It could be that they just need a hand more used to their feel. I have a rhythm though, a cadence in my work, and certain tools just seem right. Some seem right for me, and some might seem right for others. It matters not, if we progress through our work and enjoy the labour.

    1. I agree with you Scott. Tool usefulness is a subjective matter. What may work well in one wood butcher’s hands while not so much in another’s. You can go through the internet reading reviews on a given tool (you’ll find dozens) and they are all over the place. So which “expert” reviewer do you believe? The only expert opinion that really counts is yours. You have to try a tool over a period of time to tell whether it “fits” in your shop environment and daily routine. You keep the “keepers” and sluff off the ones that don’t work for you. They might work for someone else.

  23. I find the tools you make yourself are the best ones on the market, and you shouldn’t have any complaints about them cause you cannot take them back. So you make them work.

    1. Actually, I don’t think it is. It will take a couple of minutes to fettle, a little filing here or there maybe, but it will work fine for a lifetime after that. I wouldn’t fall for the other imported knockoffs from Asia though. You know, the ones painted the identical look-alike colours. That would be a bit iffy to do!

      1. Glad to hear this! I have one sitting in a drawer that I haven’t worked with. Going to get to work this weekend. Thanks for such a consistent source of inspiration .

      2. Agreed. i tried one because of cost and the Stanley was out of stock. I got it sharp and fettled/tuned, but the fit and finish was so poor that it basically goes out of tune almost immediately as the screws seem to turn themselves during use.

        1. I have done everything I know to do and I even Giggled on the bleep bloop machine and no luck. Here in Alabama, you will never see a vintage anything for sale. If by some witchcraft you do. It’s always priced like gold or wrecked beyond repair. I gave up and bought one from veritas.

  24. dear paul,
    woodworking novice here. i have inherited some quality chisels that now need sharpening (eg an inch wide paring chisel).
    the chisels have a quite significant concave bevel – i think from being sharpened on a (hand) grinding wheel.
    given the pre-existing concave bevel (and my novice skillset), would you suggest continuing to sharpen them on a grinder and sticking with the concave bevel? Or is there enough benefit that you would you recommend flattening the bevel (on a grinder due to the work involved?), then hand sharpening using your standard approach to end up with a convex bevel over time?
    i guess others may be faced with this same question also, and there was nothing mentioned about it anywhere i could find by you.
    big thankyou for this and your educational work more broadly.
    ps: knifewall = genius!!

    1. Hello PG. Thanks for your confidence in me. Existing concave bevels can remain but not continue by regrinding unless that is what you want. Grinding tool edges, in general, is mostly a waste of time, and the risks with a general metal grinder can cause problems. Mostly, these problems comprise burning the steel, especially the thin corners of the bevel, grinding off too much, and for me, the hollow grind itself–I often rely on the convex bevel to expedite certain cuts–I would say most days. Of course, some of this can be resolved by using a slower grinder speed and an appropriate grinding wheel. The second problem is the reality of grinding off way too much steel than you need to. What the quantity is is unmeasured mostly, but I would guess perhaps 5-10 times more than when using your own energy. Reality too is that grinding bevels for those of us in the know at the bench is actually slower than using the triple abrasive level I advocate. Of course, a secondary bevel has been the practice for decades and is what was taught in public schools, but that does not mean it’s as good or better than the single camber bevel that used by craftsmen over the centuries before.
      I would say ignore the hollow grind and the steel will gradually emerge to develop its natural camber by the way you sharpen.

  25. Hi Paul….I am “green” to the woodworking world. I take great pleasure in creating and using my own hands, the intense mental wrestling with problem solving to arrive at a workable solution. To address this conundrum is….Like everyone here, I’ve debated on which maker or version of a tool would give me the best value, and like just about everyone here has posted, the internet is a buzz with many options and avenues. I resort to seeking out a person like you. I look for someone who “loves” what it is they do. They should be passionate about their craft, and it is easy to see. Then I would trust their recommendation and their opinion. Because like you pointed out – that recommendation must be ground in “reality”, from a user point-of-view. That is where you find value and value you can trust.
    Thank You,
    Paul!
    Gary M.

    1. You don’t really need to go back in a guru’s history to see that a short time ago, before the internet, they were selling planes and other woodworking equipment. Or making or selling something and in many cases they still are, somewhere hovering in the background, still doing that or being sponsored.

  26. Paul – I am a beginner to woodworking and started out using powered tools, but I have discovered that finesse is what I am looking for over raw power. In that vein, I am currently looking into experimenting with draw bore joinery. I was researching the pins, and had read a gentleman used a “egg beater” hand drill to drill the holes. I thought on that and have come to agree, the precision and control is of more value than making a hole. He recommended a Millers Fall No. 2 , or No. 2a, and No. 5 – Should I look on ebay for either one of these, and what are your thoughts?

  27. Dear Paul,
    I love watching, listening and reading you. Because you are transferring these experiences you have gained over many years to us at will and I benefit from you very much. Thank you.
    Yours sincerely,
    Zafer Aksoy, 54

  28. Someone gave me an Axminster ‘pocket plane’ for Christmas. It is a dinky little thing but it is really handy for those quick trims and tidy ups. Funnily enough I just needed a couple of mm off a 60cm bit wood and it happily took off nice thin shavings. But it is not something ideal for that unlike my pre-War Stanley No. 4.

  29. Paul, I’ve read your Blogs and watched your videos since I began woodworking 2-3 years ago. But in the last weeks your hybris is troubling me. Everyone works different and your word isn’t the last one. Also you are constantly showing of, citing “your” influence in the hand tool woodworking sphere. You are not the only reason why people choose a more relaxed way into making things.
    What about Roy Underhill’s “Woodwright’s Shop” and its near 40 Year Runtime. Always humble, always teaching and always open for new ideas presented by other acclaimed woodworkers. Like Peter Follansbee, Bill Anderson, etc. Or Chris Schwarz who encourages new woodworkers to find their own way, by setting the ultimate rule “Disobey me!” in his anarchists Series.
    Maybe you should be more humble. Because I, and I’m sure many others are bewildered by your recent claims. Why not work with the community, instead of against it.
    Best regards from Germany.

    P.S. I sold my Stanley No. 4 because it wasn’t the right tool for me. I choose to use a Record No. 3 for smoothing in conjunction with a Record No. 5 as a Jack. And yes almost all the time I’m in shop, I’ll use my blockplane. For chamfers, details and endgrain. And a wooden Spokeshave. Why because I like these tools. The way they feel, the way they work, the way they look.

    1. Apologies if this is off-topic!

      What would be really helpful to me (and probably at least some others) would be Paul’s recommendations for someone who lives in a smallish rented flat and has no room (or soundproofing) for machines yet wants to be able to make necessary furniture by hand rather than waste money on commercial machine-made rubbish held together by staples. (I recently replaced the center spine on my bedframe. It was made of paper. Really! Paper.)

      I’m currently 80yo, a retired commercial artist with an accurate eye despite some cataract and still dexterous despite more arthritis than I can use.

      What is the lightest work surface I could build that would be stable enough for me to do planing, cutting, and assembly yet still be light enough to move between living room and closet without pranging my back every time?

      How can I drill holes with accuracy without a drill press (I’m experimenting to see whether I can rig a frame for my beautiful pre-Depression Millers Falls eggbeater, but surely there’s a better way)

      I now own 2 #4 Stanleys, one pre-Depression, the other pre-WW2 (both need new front knobs), a wartime #7 that should have been marked 7C (bought before I discovered Paul’s teaching), and a beautiful #65 block plane that I love because it is simple enough that it was a gateway to understanding the more complex Bailey-model planes. And it makes lovely, skin-thin read-a-book-through-them shavings for me (I’ve finally begun to grasp how to do freehand sharpening, thanks to Paul’s teaching).

      Paul’s “knife wall” technique is brilliant; using it I can now cut accurately more reliably than I ever could before. And while I haven’t yet used his method of cutting dovetails, just watching him do it tells me that it, too, will make an enormous improvement in my skill.

      But I can’t go on holding wood in my lap while I work on it, and trying to bore step-and-repeat holes with exactness completely frustrates me. And that’s only the start.

      best regards,
      Margaret

      1. Hello Margaret, In some ways the bench has somehow become more iconic than it should be. I hear names of specific benches bandied about that this or that is the ultimate when in reality the workbench in most real workshops gets lost in the whole. It’s a sort of essential focal point without necessarily being in focus. I see mine as a sort of humble servant. You know, the opposite of the flamboyant waiter that whips the serviettes with a flourish and over-speaks at the table as opposed to the waiter who quietly and gently serves you and you appreciate his non-invasive working of the table waiter.
        In many ways, benches have become more and more complicated to make and the lie that you need a massive bench to stay in place. My benches in the early stage were 8 feet long, but this was a two-man bench, usually for a man and his apprentice. I scaled my design back to the practical size and weight where it is virtually immovable but can be moved easily in the setting of a workshop. In your position, I would seriously consider Black and Decker workmate as an alternative hub. But I would not just leave it at that. I would consider some retrofitting with added jaws and such, clampable elements you can make to make deeper jaws for such work as holding and clamping too. TYhis foldaway workhorse has indeed stood the test of time for most family homes and can be used in awkward and tight spaces.

      2. I like the down-to-earth comment from mr. Sellers on workbenches. It reminded me of my metal-working bench. Nothing fancy, just something that my father welded together 50 years ago and that simply works. Don’t ever think much about it when I use it, just as I don’t spend hours agonizing whether my office desk is ‘the perfect desk’. It gets the job done, which is all that is required.

        The B&D WorkMate has served me fine for the past 4-5 years I’ve been ‘woodworking’ (am using that term liberally here). There comes a point where it becomes tedious to do so, but there is very little they can’t do. I intend to build a proper Paul-Sellers bench this year, but I could probably manage to work a few more years on a WorkMate should I have to.

        However… My back! At my age (slightly over half your age), an hour of chopping dovetails on a WorkMate is the end of my back. Have to go do something else for a while to let it recover. If you go for a WorkMate, try to get it a bit higher (depending on your own height, of course, and whether you get backache using one – if not, don’t fix what isn’t broken). I’ve chopped deep mortises in oak in a WorkMate. It’s not ideal but it works. Surprized you manage to get any work done on your knees – a WorkMate will be a big improvement over that. It may not be perfect, but few things are. The rubber feet of a WorkMate also won’t damage the floor much, if any. They can be found used for very little money. I haven’t paid more than 7.50 euro (or US$) for one.

        Having 2 WorkMates is incredibly handy at times, but I work outdoors. Could be a bit much for indoors. On occasion I’ve actually put all three WorkMates to work, at the same time…

        An eggbeater drill, brace & bit and a Stanley Yankee pump-action screwdriver are some of the tools I like the best and they are silent as well. Don’t forget the marking knife. Having recently upgraded to a ‘proper’ Stanley folding hobby knife, as recommended by mr. Sellers, the first dovetails I’ve made this year came out much better than before. I attribute that to that marking knife. Drilling holes accurately (and squarely) is much a matter of practice, as I found out earlier in life, as I lost access to a drill press. After a while you start to get the hang of drilling accurately by hand. It takes practice and occasional frustration. Drillpresses make life easier, but aren’t a necessity (for wood).

        I’ve found I can drill far more accurately with an eggbeater than with a battery-drill. Somehow, the eggbeater makes it much easier to align squarely/plumb.

  30. tayler whitehead

    hi paul,
    i commented on the youtube re block planes. as a retired professional furniture maker of commission pieces working in a very small one man shop, i have always kept tools to a minimum as space is so precious. after all these years i still don’t own a block plane as i know it will take up shelf space and i really do not need such a tool. my bet is that most amateur youtube makers have far more expense tied up in tools than i do. but then money spent on tools is money that didn’t go on the kitchen table. there is always a way of adapting the way we use a common tool that lessens the need to buy more clutter for the walls and shelves.

  31. Charlie Schmidt

    Paul,
    I am a masterclass subscriber and have followed your guidance scrupulously. I know I can take any of your opinions to the bank, and have been able to produce some fine pieces in short order. I couldn’t be happier with the instruction and am very grateful.
    Over two years time, I have amassed a complete set of hand tools for the work I am interested in, the same types of traditional pieces you do. I chose to buy all new tools, so I have no regrets about choosing LieNielsen and Lee Valley for my planes, I rather like the heavier weight. Thank you for teaching me, and showing different ways of getting results in my woodworking, using reliable quality tools, whatever they may be.
    The ethos and mindset of care in woodworking must come first, I would argue. How many there are like me who buy tools, but never use them or develop necessary skills. Your instruction is the glue that holds it all together. thank you Master Paul

  32. I’m thankful. Two years ago my wife retired. I had already been retired for 10 years. Two months into her retirement she and I stood in the driveway and she suggested to me that we build an enclosed shed. I said, “do you mean a “she shed?” She pointed at the house and said, “no, that’s my she shed, what you build would be a he shed.” Me and my dog had gotten along well during the previous 10 years with seldom a harsh word between us. I sort of wish that my wife had of retired 10 years ago as I might have been encouraged to build me a place to go to to piddle with wood a whole lot sooner!

  33. Vidar Fagerjord Harboe

    Ah, the bashing of block planes continue… I use mine a LOT, and for what it does it is superior to the 4. It lives on the bench where I can reach for it, take a couple of passes and be done.
    It is this one: https://www.biltema.no/verktoy/skjareverktoy/kniver/minihovel-25-mm-2000022190

    All jokes aside – that is actually a fantastic tool! After a little fettling (sharpening and flattening the base), it takes beautiful curly threads of wood off of sharp edges. It reaches into tight places and it cost about 6 pounds. HIGHLY overpriced for such bad finish and workmanship, but I really love that little thing.

    It is my “No. 1/4” to Mr. Sellers’ No. 4.

    1. I think that some might be better looking back over what I actually said. I use a block plane frequently enough and for certain tasks but far less than the advocates espousing how wonderful that they are say. It is useful for some tasks in tight corners and on small sections at a modeling level. Remember that because I don’t have a shopful of machines, three actually, a lathe, a bandsaw, and a drill press, I am supposedly anti-machine. My reasoning on my blog is to bridge the gap and mostly to tell the unrich and less privileged and those living in a cellar, a loft, a shed or a garage with no spare space and those that don’t want to be a slave to machine only system that they can still effectively make wood work.

      1. Vidar Fagerjord Harboe

        Yes, I’ve noticed more and more that people seems to get to a sentence like “block planes are not that useful”, and off they go to the comment section with righteous indignation. Not unusual in this day and age, it seems. “I did not read the article, but here is my opinions on the matter”.

        Paul, you could of course be a lot more clear on where you actually stand in regards to such topics – but then you would have to write an article about the article every time, I think. That would really be a waste of everybody’s time. People need to relax a bit! If Paul Sellers do not find a no. 7 useful for his work, fine! That does not mean anything to how I like to do my work, so there I am: happily making shavings with a piece of iron made just after WWII.
        After all, if Paul does not recommend a tool – the prices stay low! Win-win!

        I also think people should pay a bit more attention to your videos. There’s a drill press in the background!!! And did I spot a huge (and expensive band saw) in the corner??? Hypocrisy! Fetch the wooden riven and spokeshaved pitch forks!
        Or maybe those things are telling something…

        For the record, my post was satirical. I too find the arms race in the woodworking shops alarming. If you don’t have this or that tool, you cannot make anything it seems. Why you would need 20 dominos in a small coffee table is beyond me, really. But that was the advice someone wrote in a facebook group. I got a bit of flak pointing out that you could use a spring joint and a single clamp plus two pinch dogs to aquire very good results. Especially since the material was machined 4s. Apparently, the table would be a roller coaster because of wood movement and inaccuracies. 20 dominos and a plano glue press. No less would be needed for a good result.
        Oh, well…

  34. Geoffrey Boyling

    Interesting comments on block planes

    I had a cheap block plane that was fiddly and difficult to adjust, so I never used it
    I also do leather work
    The actual blade on the block plane was quite good, so I converted it into a Japanese style leather knife, which means that I use it much more often

  35. I recently got into handtool woodworking and started out – based on what guidance I had found at the time – with a BU Jack and a low angle block. I can honestly say that the block plane has only really had one use and that is final leveling of stool legs to remove a bit of wobble.

    I don’t regret getting it, if nothing else it was a cheap [relative] lesson, and it is handy to have something I can use with one hand now and then. But it is just a convenience item I would not today go out and get if I didn’t already have one.

    That lesson is a reason I don’t have a fret saw yet. At some point I may run into a situation where it is more than just handy and I’ll get one then, but for now there just isn’t a pressing need. Many many tools have moved from the “must get” to that “wait and see” list and more move that way regularly. Any tool starts at -10 points and really needs to justify itself before I’ll buy it now.

    If I had to do it again I would tell myself to start with a good #4 and #62 [I do love that one], a rip cut carcass, rip & cross panel saws, some chisels, and save the rest of the funds to buy every single clamp I can lay my hands on. Granted my technique has been heavily influenced by Paul since he resonated the most with me, but I still amaze myself on how much you can actually do with just those few (and in a pinch I could ditch the #62 since it is really nice to have a second plane setup differently).

    1. Vidar Fagerjord Harboe

      This is one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time!

      “Any tool starts at -10 points and really needs to justify itself before I’ll buy it now.”

      Beautiful!

      Might I add: cost should not be a deciding factor when a tool enters the “buy it now” list. Not even an important factor, as long as you can afford it. Buying cheap tools become very expensive over time. That being said, some cheap tools are actually very good. The Aldi chisels are a good example, although a set of four chisels from the more premium manufacturers would be a good investment any day.

  36. Simon Richardson

    How polarised the subscribers are about block planes ! I have lots of them, inherited and car boot sale. These things are not a universal panacea for woodworking but they are very handy, I have always got one with me at work, and contrary to Pauls views I prefer the least complicated ones. I have a little 102 on a shelf indoors next to me, I really like it, ideal for taking off an arris etc. Of course I have some of the fiddlier Stanleys with opening throats and so on but really don’t use them much. And no they are not smoothing planes ! To the guy who likes no 5’s ? To Daniel what on earth are you doing to your Eze-Laps ! mine are years old !! 2003 I think, and are fine(very fine now!).

    1. “contrary to Paul’s views”! Where did I say I didn’t prefer the least complex ones. True, I strongly dislike the 102s because they don’t do what the other block planes do but they will take the arris of if that’s all you want a block plane for which is what most seem to extol the virtues of block planes for. I think that block planes have their limited place and value, but if I were a model maker I would likely use no other plane than one of these. So too a guitar builder, but I am a woodworker and lifetime furniture maker. The pieces I have made that required a closed throat on small stock could never ever have been done with a 102 whereas just about any plane or spokeshave can deal with very minor task of removing an arris.

  37. Here in the Good Ol’ USA, our education system regrettably does not teach critical thinking. As a result, a too large portion of our citizenry are susceptible to such nonsense as stolen elections, vaccines full of microchips, cabals of cannibal paedophiles running the government, and top ten lists. I doubt the authors and editors of these lists do much more than look at Amazon reviews in the way of research and testing. It would not surprise me if many of them were written by algorithm with no human input whatsoever.

    It is much better to be informed by a true expert as to the characteristics of what makes a good example of a tool, with practical experience and demonstration to back it up. Therefore thank you, Paul, for your excellent blog and videos.

    1. “Here in the Good Ol’ USA,[…]”

      Don’t worry, over here in the Old World (Netherlands) we’ve had a spell of people setting cellphone masts on fire because they spread Corona…

  38. The 10 best xxx articles are useful if you know NOTHING about Spoke Shaves, Block Planes, etc. Is it a $!0 piece of gear, $100,$500 ? Are new things better or more expensive than used? I should think most people know sponsored material needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

    Reading/watching your material is great but until I start making shavings what you say may not sink in as much. I think it takes a mix of reading/research and making (or breaking) things to advance practical knowledge/skills.

    You have to start somewhere and if Best 10 xxx are one of the things that help to get you making shavings at a bench rather than 3-5 years of reading/research at a desk then good.

    1. I think that there is a problem here. A bit like going into a supermarket and saying ‘look how lucky we are, we have fifty different types of cereal to choose from for breakfast.’ 50 different kinds of cereal with 50 different opinions on which tastes the best. 10spokeshaves, ten block planes. Who’s testing them and exactly what’s experienced of those using them? My experience has shown me how men using them every day for decades look at things differently than a journalist and a tool salesperson selling or talking about things do. Your over-exaggeration of 3-5 years reading and research doesn’t equate to what happens in reality. Reality for me and most others is picking any spokeshave that has been around for a hundred years and trying it out after sharpening it and using it for day or two or a week or two. They have all been around for that time and there’s very little new under the sun when it comes to hand tools. Talk to a green woodworker spilling a chair back from green spokes and he’ll tell you wooden ones with tangs work best. talk to someone forming arches in oak to the inside concave of a wind arch and another will tell you a 151. It’s never apples for apples and that can be tiresome. There are those who have bags of experience in the amateur realms too. I know lots of them. The problem with many reviews is we have no knowledge of those giving the review, you know, backgrounds etc. No matter. There are still things to be learned from raw beginners equally as well. I like to hear their opinions, but mostly their experience can be based on user error and their thinking they are just no good at this or that. `remember the most minor retraction of a spokeshave blade or a plane iron can go from deep skud marks to stellar performers in a heartbeat.

      1. Vidar Fagerjord Harboe

        Why is it always “top 10”? “Top 5”? What if there was a sixt contender that would’ve proved to be best?
        Paul, you should do a “top 1 1/4”. Now, THAT’S a review I’d read despite being a SI bloke! 😀

        On a side note: I was looking into dust collectors for an article I wrote. From the 5 products from 5 different brands I found at the low end of the price scale, I could’ve done a “top 5 dust collectors under $250”. Any and all of them would be the top one if the price and color was not a factor. It would not make any sense to write such a nonsense article, unless it was for the satire. That could be fun, though….

      2. I think the problem is you’ve forgotten how ignorant one (me especially in the beginning) can be about things. If you have never seen a spoke shave or believe a belt sander does the same thing as a plane, then getting started somewhere is often better than reading/researching for a long time before making shavings.

        If you have a mentor, or can take a class, or spend a lot on books then maybe the top 10 does not make sense Otherwise ANYTHING that helps sort out all the noise on options helps.

        Your information is wonderful – I’ve learned a lot from you just thru the internet. Thank you for all you do to help us poor ignorant folks.

  39. Well said, I am still enjoying two spokeshaves and a marking knife Joseph made 20+ years ago when you and your family were living here in Texas. Keep up the great online knowledge transfer. Thank you.

  40. Richard Thompson

    Hey folks ya know just because some people think block planes are a wast of time is just plane folly. Paul is right in some cases a block plane is indispensable but for most folk you won’ t be worse off arrising edges with a spoke shaves or a # 4 or #3 plane.Where a block plane comes into its own is small extra fine trimming work.Fine cabinetry ,instrument making or small water craft like cedar/ canvas canoes .Never have I absolutely needed one for general joinery.To own a good block plane is a start but unfortunately most folk do not have the skill to get the most out of one. It took me 40 years to ware out my Record block plane blade and my grandson accidentally knocked my plane off the bench and broke the casting for the adjuster screw stud .My Record is now partially Stanley (USA) ,Record (UK) and German blade. It should last until I die.

  41. Richard Thompson

    Paul just another note I currently don,’t have ready access to a lot of my hand tools so rather than go through my storage shed I just bought some second hand tools at an extremely good price They must have been from a deceased or retired carpenter and joiner. This was a fairly comprehensive kit but it did not have a single block plane in it.Whilst these tools were well used this tradesman obviously was able to do his work ok minus a block plane.By the way there were 4 planes and two great saws plus other assorted tools. A quick de rust (surface rust only) and a slight sharpening and they are good to go.3 plane handles had split from drying out from Australian summers but these I made replacements for in no time.
    What do you think of my dear departed dad .He taught me my trade even as a child dad said that I could use any of his machinery but I had to show him that I could perform the task of a machine by hand first.You know what there is not much that can not be done by hand.Folk really need to know this and you are doing so by teaching them
    Keep on chipping on
    Richie

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