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Thread: Planing Technique

  1. #1
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    Dec 2017
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    Planing Technique

    Iíve started working on my first workbench (Paul sellers style)and got the top completed tonight. This has involved a lot of planing to true up the laminated dimensional lumber and my left hand in particular has taken a beating.

    Iíve developed a couple of blisters from what I can only guess is the part of the front knob on my planes where the screw is. The surface there on my planes is smooth and/or the screw itself is a bit recessed so I donít think it is acting as an abrasive. Iíve also tried to be very conscious of not forcing the plane too much.

    There is is still a LOT to be done to complete my project and I would prefer not to keep getting blisters. Any tips? A glove for my left hand? What might I be doing wrong?

  2. #2
    I would not use a glove like cotton. No grip for this kind of planing. Mechanix glove would do well.
    As for blisters and over forcing. I would shift the blade to one side and plane the wood down. Then flatten it with the plane in parallel with the sole.

    A poorly fit tote to the hand would also be a big issue.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Lubricate the sole and sharpen the blade often. Benches have big surfaces.

    I still get blisters if I go too long between shop sessions and usually on my non-dominant hand.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    The the edge of the counterbore on top of the knob is likely irritating your hand lightly over a prolonged period.

    A glove might help. Changing your grip might also help.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  5. #5
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    Blisters are a sign that your body is starting the adaptation process to a new challenge to your skin. Just let them heal a bit and try again a couple days later. Don't go all out at once. It's like starting a new sport program, start with short runs, slowly increasing the distance as your body adapts. Going all out at once is asking for trouble. Luckilly blisters are pretty benign, they heal up quickly. But be aware of potential troubles with your joints, they are much more persistant (the guy with golfers elbow sais).

  6. #6
    As mentioned, blisters are a sign that you are using your hands in ways they aren't used to/using a new tool. FWIW I don't think using gloves is the answer, I have tried, and you miss the sensitivity of the tool, and handling other tools (square, straight edge, etc) can be frustrating YMMV.

    Listen to your body (not always easy when in the middle of a massive planing session, and you want to get finished), as the time to heal of blisters that haven't quite broken the skin v.s. the massive blisters that ruin your week, is fairly substantial.

    Yes, the end result (tougher skin) is the same, but the time to get there is much longer. E.g. doing little and often beats doing loads, and then nothing, for a period as your hands heal.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Eaton View Post
    Iíve started working on my first workbench (Paul sellers style)and got the top completed tonight. This has involved a lot of planing to true up the laminated dimensional lumber and my left hand in particular has taken a beating.

    Iíve developed a couple of blisters from what I can only guess is the part of the front knob on my planes where the screw is. The surface there on my planes is smooth and/or the screw itself is a bit recessed so I donít think it is acting as an abrasive. Iíve also tried to be very conscious of not forcing the plane too much.

    There is is still a LOT to be done to complete my project and I would prefer not to keep getting blisters. Any tips? A glove for my left hand? What might I be doing wrong?
    It's helpful to wrap your hands with duct tape, if you anticipate a day's work of doing this.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kees Heiden View Post
    Blisters are a sign that your body is starting the adaptation process to a new challenge to your skin. Just let them heal a bit and try again a couple days later. Don't go all out at once. It's like starting a new sport program, start with short runs, slowly increasing the distance as your body adapts. Going all out at once is asking for trouble. Luckilly blisters are pretty benign, they heal up quickly. But be aware of potential troubles with your joints, they are much more persistant (the guy with golfers elbow sais).
    Completely agree. Hard work often comes with an adaptive period for the rest of your body. New muscles are getting a workout, and so is the skin on your hands. Callouses build in no time, and if you keep it up, you'll have hands like mine, that are nothing but two large callouses. My wife calls them "working man's hands."
    Jeff

  9. #9
    My hand does not touch the screw depression when planing. Try turning your hand so the edge of your pinkie sits on the sole of the plane. I think you usually get a little warning about blisters; the flesh feels hot ahead of the blisters so take note.

  10. #10
    Blisters are caused by friction you must be planing for hours and hours!! But sounds like something could be wrong with your technique. Usually much more impact on shoulders, arm and back, not blisters.

    No way to know without watching you. If you're right handed, your left hand should really be doing very little work other than guiding, so I don't know why you would get a blister off the front knob.

    The planing surface height is critical, too. Too high and you work your shoulders and arms too much. Too low, and there is more downward pressure on the plane and more back strain.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    You can also alter your stance and grip occasionally to give your shoulders a break.

    Rubbing parrafin or bees wax frequently to sole definitely helps. I've never oils very effective.

    Using dimensional construction lumber can be fraught with issue related to moisture, knots, etc. This is very likely why you're having to do so much planing. Stickering for a couple months prior to milling in a climate controlled area is a wise idea.

    It helps to learn to plane both right and left handed.

    Keep that plane iron sharp!!

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Nothing wrong with wearing a glove. I like thin leather ones for this type of thing. Maybe an old golf glove for example, or a cheap pair of pigskin gloves from Menards.

  12. #12
    Good luck on the workbench! I got fatigued watching Sellers plane down his on YouTube.
    Doug, the "Wood Loon"
    Acton, MA

    72, slow road cyclist, woodworking dabbler, tool junkie , and
    bonsai enthusiast.
    Now, if I could just stay focused longer than a few weeks...

  13. #13
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    Dec 2017
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    Thanks, all, for the advice. I canít do much about the height Iím working at right now because Iím using sawhorses but that will change when the bench is finished! I do use wax on my plane sole but I did take a breather and sharpen my irons today - what a difference! I did also focus more on what my hands were doing today and feel less beat up.

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Another exmple of "sharp fixes most everything". Good luck with your bench and I bet it will make a big difference from saw horses once it is up and running.
    David

  15. #15
    +1 for sharpening more often.

    +1 for keeping your lead hand off the top of the knob; for me, when working an edge, only my thumb rides on the cast iron and fingers are on the work below the bed as a fence to guide the plane. On a flat surface, I use a light placement of fingers on the bed with the thumb wrapped around the back of the knob. Since the lead hand is steering and the back hand on the tote is doing the pushing, my lead hand is never stressed. If you need to push down on the bed with the lead hand to get your shaving, you've waited too long to sharpen. Another +1 for sharpening more often. (Or, for the sake of completeness, you may be taking too thick a shaving.)

    When you're doing it right, it's your legs doing most of the work; the arms usually participate, but should be minimized so you don't wear down too fast. The hands are generally not fatigued and certainly not blistered. When using them on an edge as a fence there is a possibility of a splinter, but that's not usual.
    Fair winds and following seas,
    Jim Waldron

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