Tools for Working Wood
Invest in your craft. Invest in yourself.

 Joel's Blog

How to Hold an Adjustable Shoulder Plane  


We routinely get people in the store looking for shoulder planes. They all grab the store samples and you can see the uncomfort on their faces. Very few people hold the Preston/Record/Clifton/LN shoulder planes in the way intended - I'm convinced the instructions were long ago lost - which is why they seem uncomfortable. Grab them by the front with the crux of the thumb and forefinger resting where the lever clamp comes out of the body and the thumb and forefinger grasping the finger holds in the back sides of the plane. Preston, Record, and Clifton cleverly have nice finger depressions right on the back where you grab. Then pull the plane towards you. It's a comfortable grip, you get tons of control, and by pulling towards you, you can see what you are doing, which is the point of a shoulder plane. You don't need the power of pushing the plane - you need the control of guiding the plane - try it you will see.
For more on the historic side of shoulder planes click here for an article on our content side that I wrote many years ago (1996).
Tags:Woodworking Tools and Techniques
Comments: 8
I have large LN and feel that discomfort you speak of. Thanks for posting this. As soon as I saw the picture, it became one of those slapping of the forehead moments. I feel like I got a new tool out of the deal.
02/07/2012Danny Hellyar 
I would have never known ! Thank you for sharing this bit of knowledge.This may be one good example of how some of the plain and simple processes of real craftsman get lost over time when they are not used or taught for many many years. I don't recall even being taught how to use a simple block plane in high school wood shop some 40 years ago.
02/07/2012Michael Astera 
Danny Hellyar wrote:

"I don't recall even being taught how to use a simple block plane in high school wood shop some 40 years ago."

Uh-oh. Is there a right way to hold and use a block plane too?

BTW, I had a semester of HS wood shop in the mid-1960s. My first experience of woodworking tools. I barely passed with a D. If my old shop teacher had known that I would go on to try and make a living at woodworking he would be surprised I hadn't starved to death.
02/07/2012Kees van der Heiden 
But how do you hold the plane while planing a tenon shoulder? That's the first task for a shoulder plane I guess.
Planing a shoulder - Good question.

I need to take some pictures. Infill shoulder planes have ears to make it easy to grab the tool at each end. With Preston style planes it is a little harder.
02/12/2012Jay Grant 
Dang ! Does this mean that our Japanese Daiku equivelants push their shoulder planes?
If the shoulder plane was designed to be used as you say, why would it have an handle in the back facing the "wrong" direction?
No idea - other than to cover the mechanism. And sometimes you do push a shoulder plane.
Comments are closed.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.
 Joel's Blog
 Video Roundup
 Classes & Events
 Built-It Blog
 Work Magazine
Recent Blogs:
The Seaton Chest Revisited - 03/14/2018
Cræft by Alexander Langlands - 03/07/2018
News: much is happening here & OSMO is arriving! - 02/24/2018
Beautiful Cabinet Shop Space Available for Rent in Gowanus - 02/05/2018
Safety Last - 01/31/2018
I Am a Panda - 01/19/2018
The Unheated Workshop - 01/10/2018
How to Cut a Groove in a Frame By Hand and Without a Plow Plane - 12/27/2017
How to Mortise the Moxon Way: Part 2, Chopping the Mortise - 12/20/2017
How to Mortise the Moxon Way: Part 1, Layout and Cutting Tenons - 12/17/2017
Why Schlep? - A Look at Tools Baskets and Bags - 12/13/2017
Saw Sharpening Essentials - Gramercy Tools Saw Vise (Back in Stock) + Vallorbe Saw Files (They Finally Arrived) - 12/06/2017
How to Choose the Best Dovetail Saw for Yourself - 11/29/2017
Woodwork at City Hall - 11/22/2017
The Marquetry Plane Shows Up In England 1760-1780 - 11/15/2017
Joel's Blog Ten Ways I am Doing Things Differently - Part 4 - 11/08/2017
Where Moxon Got His Mojo - 11/01/2017
Industry City Wants a Handout as it Kills Woodworking Jobs - 10/25/2017
An Introduction to Hand Tools - The Instructor Confesses - 10/11/2017
Ten Ways I am Doing Things Differently - Part 3 - 09/27/2017
Older Entries...