Friday’s with Dennis

Dennis Laney is a good friend of mine, and a fantastic woodworker. Dennis is both knowledgeable and proficient at the art of traditional woodworking. Within minutes of spending time with Dennis you can either pick up a new fact or point, or you can drown in his knowledge and vast wealth of information making you feel like kindergartener at a college seminar. It might seem intimidating at first, but Dennis is quick to share his knowledge and skills.(To follow Dennis and his blog, look for him on my “links” page)

Dennis and I both like hand planes. He’s made several. I’ve made a few. We both read the recent article in Popular woodworking about how to make a raised panel plane. We’ve decided to make our own. With a few changes, of course.

Our Friday morning begins with filled cups of coffee and our books scattered across the workbench. This is a slight departure from our regular book references and scattered beer bottle across the workbench. After much discussion, and a vast number of sidetracking, we came to the conclusion our panel raising hand plane was going to have to following features added to it.

A knicker. A knicker is most commonly seen on a moving fillister plane. A moving fillister plane is basically a fancy rabbit plane with a fence and depth stop added. The job of the knicker is to score the fibers on the cross grain just before the blade engages. You would begin by pulling the plane backwards for the first stroke, severing the fibers, and then push the plane forward to make the cut. The nicker helps prevent tear out that commonly result from going across grain.

IMG 1278The other feature we are adding is an offset tote, or handle. The reason for this is many times when planning we have the tendency to to rock the hand plane a touch, resulting in a slightly unsquare edge. This is because our balance is slightly off with pushing the plane and applying pressure downward. We believe by moving the hand to the right of center, the pressure will be slightly more balanced. Well, that’s our theory anyways.

The last thing we decided to do was the method of construction. There are several current methods for making planes. One method is to rip a board into 3 sections, cut the opening for the blade, and glue the sides back on. Another popular method is to take 2 boards, cut and chisel the opening for the blade, and glue the two pieces together. But the method we are taking is the traditional one. We are going to scribe and chisel out the opening for the blade in a solid, one piece of wood.

So join us next week as we begin the construction of our raised panel hand plane and share with us our success, or failure and of course our dancin’! Okay Dennis doesn’t dance. But I do! And so should you. 🙂