Hand Plane Essentials
with Jim Tolpin and Faculty

 Basics of Woodworking Series Level:  Level I


This course teaches you to sharpen, tune and use handplanes. Handplanes are an under-utilized resource in many workshops. Working with truly sharp and well tuned planes marks the transition of woodworker to the next level of proficiency. You can work with greater precision, greater safety and much less effort.

This course will remove the mystery from bench planes. Bench planes are the family of planes that are used to flatten boards, true and trim edges.

At the end of this course you should be able to get a smooth surface on a squirrelly piece of wood using a plane with a razor sharp blade. Plus you'll have had a great workout.

Class Description

On the first day of the course we’ll teach you to sharpen a plane blade using locally available materials and a commercially available jigs. We'll teach you the sandpaper method of grinding and initial honing and then we'll show you how to use waterstones for final sharpening. We compare the various commercial jigs. We'll show you how to put a back bevel on the blade and how to camber a smoothing plane blade.

Then we'll teach you how to tune up a plane. By the end of the first day your plane should be creating long transparent shavings, even across endgrain!

On the second day we'll delve in the techniques for using bench planes.  We'll show you how to use planes to accurately flatten and thickness a large board, joint the edges and 
square the end of board. 

Tools:  Bringing a Plane to Class

The School has an extensive collection of hand planes for you to use during this class. However you will get the greatest benefit (and biggest grins) if you can bring your own hand plane.

We suggest that you bring at least one hand plane along.  Ideally a Number (#) 5 Jack Plane - one found at a garage sale or inherited is perfect. If you find a spare blade, that is even better, we'll show you how to transform a #5 plane into a foreplane. 

Otherwise bring a small block plane - the ones you find in most hardware stores are just not good enough. Record Block planes for around $40 are a good candidates for the sharpening / tuning session. If you don't want to buy a handplane bring a 1" chisel to practice sharpening. Ask us if you have questions.

We recommend not bringing just your new Lee Valley or Lie-Nielsen plane for the sharpening / tuning session on the first day - you'll be twiddling your thumbs because they come tuned out of the box. But it'll be great on the second day!

If you have some old and interesting planes feel free to bring them along - hopefully we can identify them and suggest how to use them.

More about this class



Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.

Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.

Please also read out registration policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $260
Materials Charge: $15




2014 Class:

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.

      January 25 - 26, 2014    Hand Plane Essentials    Register 
   October 11 - 12, 2014 Hand Plane Essentials Register


If you'd like to ask questions - please feel free to contact  us - (360) 344-4455 or by email.


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Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Preservation Trades Copyright © 2007-2014. All rights reserved.

200 Battery Way | Fort Worden | Port Townsend, WA 98368 | (360) 344-4455 | email

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Preservation Trades is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. Any donations made to the School are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.