I blame Scott Meek. If you don't know who Scott Meek is then you really need to check him out. Scott makes beautiful wooden planes that are as comfortable to use as they are handsome looking. A few weeks ago, Scott was in my shop for a visit while he was in my neck of the woods for Woodworks and we chatted about my own wooden planes that I made when I was a student at Rosewood Studio.
I've never been all that good at using wooden planes and I assumed that I was just missing some secret to their success. I asked Scott what the trick was and he said to not use my metal smoothers for a month and I will become a pro at it. Like any other woodworking skill, using wooden planes takes practice. I know....tens of people are shocked by this news. I've always liked the idea of wooden planes, especially for smoothing because the wood sole burnishes the wood and gives you a gorgeous surface.
Yesterday I spent a good part of the day tuning up my wooden smoothers and sharpening blades. I also have an old wooden jack that's in rehab and will become my new scrubber (more on that later). There was a lot of hammer tapping and shavings flying but the technique of adjusting a wooden plane started to come to me. I was able to start recognizing when I hit the iron too hard or not hard enough just by listening to the sound of the hammer strike. Eventually I was able to get fine shavings just as I would with my metal smoothers.
I guess I should thank Scott (not blame him) for rekindling a love for wooden planes. If you're in the market for a stellar wooden plane check out Scott's stuff, you won't be disappointed. If you want to give a wooden plane a try, visit your local tool pusher and pick up an old wooden plane to learn on. You'll spend about $20 on a plane that is in good shape and you'll learn a ton rehabbing and learning how to use it.
In order to understand, you must do. - Vic