When we published our video last week about the Holdfast and the Batten I’d hoped that at least a few people would find it to be useful but I certainly hadn’t imagined the huge response that we received. I’ve had heaps of emails alongside the comments letting me know that people have popped straight out in to their workshops to create themselves a batten. And the best part… it actually worked! (many people seemed particularly surprised about that!).
This is exactly the kind of thing which I hoped our videos could do and it’s really exciting for me to know there’s plenty of new battens out there being used. This method also comes without prejudice of how you approach your woodwork – I’ve been known to use it whilst making cuts with a router (yes, I mean the sort with a plug!).
When we set out to start making videos we had a lot of discussion here about what we might be letting ourselves in for. We all know that the internet’s great for learning and sharing ideas but I can’t help but take note of the long list’s of undeserving offence comments that can be left after so many YouTube efforts – would we be opening ourselves up to the same?
Well, so far so good in this regard and what a relief. But I have caught wind of a few nit pickings, although in a five minute video I don’t suppose to address every issue or opportunity that a technique might cover so I can but raise a smile to these. There was one point though which I was reading yesterday that I felt would be worth a bit of discussion – this was a criticism of my planing technique due to not holding the plane with a three fingered grip.
When I read this my first reaction was to duck. In my training I’d always been shown to use a three fingered grip and if I was ever caught doing this wrong then whatever was in my old man’s hand could come flying my way, including the odd cup of tea!
However that rule didn’t stand for the plane in question. This plane was designed for a four finger grip and no matter how I look at it can not be held with the more conventional three fingers. My hands are as big as shovels but still my outstretched forefinger can only dangle in thin air, there’s just nowhere for it to sit that could be of any use. Since this plane’s set up for heavy shavings and I only use it when I’ve a lot of material to remove that suits me just fine. Having all four fingers gripping allows me to get a stronger handle and throw my mass (which I happen to have plenty of!) against it to really hog away. As these heavier strokes aren’t intended to have fine control then I don’t see the lack of the fore finger to be a problem.
Here I am attempting a three finger grip (above). And here’s another plane of a similar length that can be used comfortably this way (below). I use this plane for finer work.
There are many more ways which I hold my planes including one where I don’t use the handle at all (great on a low bench) and another where I grasp the handle with a three fingered grip but outstretch my pinky along the length of the plane body. I think planing technique can alter depending on the plane, the use and the situation so bench height is another baring factor. In the video I was at a 34″ high bench which is far from my ideal for planing; I prefer my lower bench when making furniture and this is only around 29″ so quite a difference – with this bench I can even get away with a bit of a ‘sit on your work’ while you plane method!