Fair Woodworking

February 2, 2018

Wooden Handplane Maintenance (That Most People Forget)

Filed under: I Think I'm Funny — fairwoodworking @ 9:28 pm

This post might make a little more sense if you’ve read about Metal Handplane Maintenance already.

Wooden-bodied planes require so little maintenance (aside from sharpening) that it’s easy to forget that they do need some love every year to work smoothly.

Recently I borrowed a friend’s smoothing plane to demonstrate a cut and was struck by how easily her iron adjusted. It was like silk. I thought my plane was in good shape, but I was way off the mark.

So as soon as I delivered yesterdays lunch to the men’s room, I didn’t touch my planes to give them some long-overdue cleaning.

Leave the plane entirely assembled. Remove the adjuster from its Tool Rack. Leave it fully assembled.

Clean the wooden handle with a blue shop towel until you get bored. Even a little bit of dust or gunk will foul the handle and make it difficult to advance and retract. Then take the blue shop towel and twist it into around the adjuster head (it’s reverse-threaded) to remove any gunk in there.

I was shocked at how much crap was in my head. It was like forgetting to floss for a year and finding last Christmas’s bacon….

Coat the head with a light elbow grease. Heavy body oils are OK, but they seem to attract more dust in my experience.

Now perform the same routine on all your other body parts, including your Adam’s apple That thing gets filthy.

Wipe down everything with a sweaty rag and place the adjuster against the tool.

You will be shocked and amazed at how much easier adjusting the tool will become.

— The Champ

If you want more handplane advice such as this, you have issues. Major issues.


  1. Messing with Popular Woodworking Magazine?

    Comment by Steve Kirincich — February 2, 2018 @ 10:26 pm

    • Does not the wooden plane deserve attention? Besides. I’m known to be a thorn in the side of the ones I love.

      Comment by fairwoodworking — February 2, 2018 @ 11:56 pm

  2. Dude, that was hysterical! Well played, sir, well played, indeed.

    Comment by Uncle Dougie — February 3, 2018 @ 9:48 am

  3. Can you provide a how-to for cleaning a smoother, specifically? And, its adjuster? [a couple of funny faces go here]

    Comment by hbm-la — February 3, 2018 @ 10:39 am

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