The Plane Truth

Crack! My eyes opened with a snap. Tap, Tap, Tap Patter Patter. My mind slowly came to the realization that it must be raining. We don’t get many thunderstorms here in Oregon but
early in the morning we had a good one. As I laid there listening to the
rain start up, I suddenly remembered that I had left my planer all set
up out on the driveway. I dashed out to get it covered with a tarp just
in time as the dark night really opened up with a deluge. Before you cry
foul that I am using a planer on my hand tool project, let me try and
defend myself. The day before was wood prep day. I finalized the
dimensions and proportions of the hope chest using common ratios of whole numbers.

I also developed a rough cut list. As I was going through the stack of Madrone lumber, and evaluating which pieces were best for the different parts, I realized just how warped and twisted much of the stock was. I sharpened up a Stanly scrub plane iron and went to work on a piece. This was the first time I had actually used a scrub plane and it was quite fun to tear into the large hump on this particular board. I went diagonally across the grain from both directions and made fairly quick work of it.

I was also thinking I should work out more. Maybe this would be my new exercise plan. I then switched to a Stanley #5 with a rough setting and went after what was left of the hump and to smooth out the gouges left by the scrub plane. I used winding sticks and a straightedge to check my work.


One side done, a lot to go! About this time I was looking at my stack of wood and thinking a few electrons couldn’t hurt anyone. The plane truth is, I am not buff enough to tackle this whole hope chest project without a little help from my friends and decided to save myself for all of the “important” hand tool work such as joinery and finish planing. I do not own a jointer and my planer is an older Delta 12 inch. I needed flatten one side of each board before planing to proper thickness. To do this, I made a sled of a melamine coated board with an additional MDF bed screwed to the top. It uses replaceable MDF side rails. It works by placing the warped board to be flattened onto the sled and using shims wherever needed to give it good, solid support. The board is then held from slipping by using drywall screws through the side rails and into the side of the warped board about 1/4″. The other side uses drywall screws to push the wood against the opposite rail. It only takes a minute to set up each board and is very secure. The MDF side rails will get planed down along with the warped board.
Once all of the boards were flattened on one side I used the sled to thickness them. The sled adds mass and dampening to help with chatter and eliminates all snipe which was a problem I was having with the old Delta. It still took me the better part of a day to reduce a pile of twisted madrone to nominal thickness boards. I left enough material for finish planing. The triangles help me keep track of how the boards are to be bookmatched.
 Today I hope to tackle the walnut. The slab probably weighs 150 lbs so it will be another work-out day!


Share Button


  1. Robert RLindh

    Mike,The Sled…..Neat idea!!!!!!

  2. Mike Chandler

    May I ask what a tapered cutter is, or where you’d find such a critter?

  3. David Jeske

    Yes, I will bring some to WIA as display stands.  I use a tapered cutter to make the holes though.

  4. Mike Chandler


    Are you bringing any of these to WIA? I’m curious about how you drill tapered holes.
    Thanks for posting the photos and taking the time to reply.


  5. David Jeske

    Sure. The back has a rabate that the shelf sits in. The holes are tapered to fit the tapered portion of the chisel.

  6. Mike Chandler


    This will seem a silly question, but could you show a closeup of your chisel rack? I’m interested in how you made it.




  7. That’s some beautiful wood, Dave. I won’t hold it against you for having on hand apprentices and using them. I abuse the peons, too. ;o)

  8. Michael Blake

    That’s quite a rack of chisels in the 4th picture. What… are you in the chisel-making business? The quilted Madrone is spectacular. See you in Covington in September.

  9. ShawnR

    Love the idea of using the sled. I am also using a lunch box planer and have spent countless setup hours trying to reduce snipe.

    There is nothing wrong with a little flow of electrons. It is all about moderation and enjoying the work you do.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *