How many handplanes on the head of a pin? – FineWoodworking

Anytime I post a picture of my handplane on the bench, someone pipes up to tell me how and why I’m wrong.

It’s an old carpenter’s edict that states a handplane should be placed on its side when it’s not in use to help protect the blade from getting dinged; it’s a “rule” that applied when you couldn’t be sure where you might be setting that blade – atop a metal surface, on the ground, on a newly poured gravel bed (in other words, anywhere on a job site where a carpenter might be working).

So those naysayers who squawk, “If you place your plane on its sole, you obviously don’t know what you’re doing!” must have had that knowledge beaten into them (perhaps even literally) by an old carpenter or someone who learned woodworking from an old carpenter – because how long has it been since a handplane was common on a job site?!

I’m not a carpenter. I work inside at a wooden bench that does on rare occasion see a bit of metal and grit, but if so is thoroughly cleaned of any such contaminants immediately afterward. So by placing my handplane on its sole on my wooden bench, my reasoning goes, I’m protecting the business end of the blade from being struck by another tool or (worse) by my hand.

But if I do place a plane on its side on my bench (which is always by accident, by the way), a soles-down fanatic, who learned from a furniture maker who didn’t learn from a carpenter, leaves a comment/sends a message that “You clearly don’t know what you’re doing!”

I really don’t care one way or the other what you do with your planes. Heck – maybe you’re one of those crazies who rests them sole down, but with the front edge on a thin strip of wood to raise the blade off the bench? Or you place it across your tool well so both ends are supported while the blade is hanging in the air? (Side note: A tool well? Ugh? But that’s a different post.)

What I do care about – what gets my dander up – is the need of some people to tell other people they’re wrong. “Oh look! A non-substantive mistake on the internet. I must correct it!!” Oh do sod off.

Just because someone doesn’t do a thing the way you do it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. (And that’s a good lesson to remember in the classroom too.)

Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m off to knit some plane cozies – the only right way to store handplanes.

More from Megan Fitzpatrick


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