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Plane and simple

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I’ve gotten another assignment to do a tool article on something I rarely use. I love when that happens as it gives me a chance to broaden my skills – and play with new toys.

The tools this time around are 3-1/4” hand-held power planers, and I’ll be doing a “meet the tool” kind of an article – what is this tool, what can it do, what can’t it do, what to look for, that kind of thing. I’ve had a planer for years – an older-model Makita my father-in-law gifted me nearly two decades ago. And, although well familiar with its use, I just don’t have call to use it all that much. But as I’ve geared up for the article, it’s starting to come back to me just how much fun these planers are to use.

I look at using tools I often neglect much in the same way as other things I like, but tend to forget. For example, I make the trip from here to Cincinnati to visit family several times a years and I always take the fastest, most direct way (which is always the easiest way, since it seems that truckers aren’t aware of this route). But there are about four other ways I can go, and sometimes just to change things up I’ll take one of those alternate routes and be surprised how enjoyable they are. Sure, they’re slightly longer, but far more scenic and with cooler things to stop and visit along the way than my regular fast route.

The same is true in the shop. I love my random orbit sander, but when I was out of a particular grit of discs recently I got out my sanding block and went to town doing it by hand. Took a little longer, but I’d forgotten the pure, tactile enjoyment of hand sanding.

I still don’t have a lot of call to use a power planer, but as I unbox these shiny, new machines for testing and photo setups it occurs to me I’m not playing with new toys at all. I’m having a good time with some old friends.

What’s the point here? Simple. Take a look around your shop and don’t stop looking till you find something you haven’t used in a long while. It could be that you have a new one of whatever it is and just stopped using the old one. Or, maybe it’s something you just haven’t done in a while like dovetails, which has left that dovetail jig gathering dust.

Whatever it is, get it out and put it to use. I’m betting it’ll bring back some good times.

You’re welcome.

Till next time,


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