With a sharp blade and by moving your arms and legs in unison, shavings will flow from your hand plane with minimal effort. Follow these simple steps to improve your results.

Start with the grip

Wrap three fingers of your dominant hand around the back handle (called the tote) and rest your extended index finger behind or against the edge of the blade, below. Wrap your other hand around the front knob.

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Set your body

Stand to the rear of the workpiece, feet set shoulder-width apart, left foot in front, and most of your weight on the right foot. Bend your elbows slightly. Plant the nose of the plane on the workpiece with the blade off the end. Place primary pressure down and forward on the knob and moderate forward pressure on the tote.

Put the plane in motion

Most of the power comes from your legs, so begin by lifting your front foot slightly and driving off your rear foot. (Sort of like a baseball pitcher.) Rock forward, let your elbows bend until your upper arms contact your body and, as the plane moves, begin transferring weight to your front foot, as shown in the photo opening photo above. Continue driving forward with your rear leg. Extend your arms to increase the length of the stroke.

For long boards, increase your range by stepping forward, below. As the nose of the plane reaches the end of the board, reduce downward pressure on the knob. (Release it, if you like.) Keep pushing on the tote until the blade clears the end of the board. Remove shavings from the plane with your free hand, then conserve effort by dragging the plane along the board back to the starting position for the next stroke.


Watch WOOD Design Editor demonstrate this technique in this video.