Sunday, February 15, 2015

Handplaning: From the floor up.

Lately Derek Cohen published an interesting article on his website about planing ergonomics. One thing I took from that article was how you push the plane in a heavy(ish) cut with your whole body, not just your arms or shoulders. Ideally you want to keep your elbow low and push with the forearm alomst horizontally.

So, I watched some videos from myself. I can highly endorse to shoot a video when you want to improve a physical skill. That can be humbling, but it is also very instructional. I could see that I am pushing from my legs and hips, but not neccessarilly holding my forearm horizontal. There is room for improvement, so to speak. Pushing from the legs in a heavy cut feels very natural, so I guess most people will do that automatically.

But these videos were done in the old shop with the wooden floor. I have now moved into the garage with a slick painted concrete floor, and it is very slippery indeed! I was preparing some beech blanks for a wild idea to make a plane in the near future. I was really struggling. Beech is hard stuff and I was gliding all over the place. Almost instinctively I was hooking my feet around the legs of the bench, not really an ideal solution.

Good reason to throw some money at the problem and I got an anti skid mat. Instant 100% improvement!

I choose for 60cm width and 250 cm length, bought from

Planing works a lot better this way. The next step up though are my shoes. I really like to wear clogs, because I can quickly jump in and out of them when leaving or entering the house. With normal shoes it is easy to drag around a lot of dust and shavings. Years ago I had clogs with an open heel and they are quite useless for planing, you just slip out of your clogs. Then I bought some clogs with a closed heel. Much better, but  they have a very high heel. My workbench is rather low, so the mat plus the clogs is pushing me up quite a bit. I'm still looking for a solution for that one.


  1. For exactly this reason, I like loafers in the shop similar to these:

  2. That looks like a very decent boot! Problem for me is always the fit, I have very slim feet so need to find a shop with a good selection to find the best fitting ones.

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  4. Nice article! And it makes me wonder:
    I also am wearing clogs with an open heel.
    But i don't slip out of them when i'm planing. So, does that mean that i'm not using my whole body or is it the thick sock's i'm wearing in the clogs???

  5. Maybe when you set you back foot at a 90 degree angle it would be less likely that your feet slip out of the clog too eailly. But planing is a lot better with decent shoes!