Teaching and woodworking are two very separate skills.
That’s something I realised when we started making our videos.
The big difference is, you can’t work on auto pilot while you demonstrate.
Everything has to be deliberate, almost exaggerated so it can be replicated by those watching.
As I work now I talk to myself, asking what’s happening.
It’s helped me to become much more conscious of how I’m doing things, and why.
This was useful when I was first looking to explain how to use a hand plane to flatten boards.
It’s not easy to show what’s going on with an individual board, but after much self discussion I realised I was approaching with the same steps 90% of the time.
These kind of patterns emerge a lot when you start to look for them.
Another pattern or habit that I’ve found I do, came up when I was flattening a lot of skinny lengths. When the wood ain’t much wider than the plane.
When planing these narrow pieces, I always find I’m twisted in the same direction every time on my initial reference face.
Too often to be chance.
I realised that it’s down to the imprecise way that we push a hand plane.
We’re stood to one side of the plane, pushing in an almost twisted manner.
That’s the most efficient way for our bodies to push.
But it’s kind of like having a planer or thicknesser with a cutter block that’s only attached on one side.
You’d find the block would flex a tad under heavy work towards the open side, and create a predictable error.
If an engineer was to tell you how to use a hand plane, they’d probably say to hold it central to your body, and push with both hands evenly.
That wouldn’t be practical, but understanding all this helps a lot when flattening those skinny faces.
When learning how to remove twist by hand, it can feel uncontrolled.
One tiny shaving can send things completely the wrong way.
Experience improves the process but when it comes to fine tuning you may feel like you’re back there at the beginning.
The problem may just be that natural twist.
It’s something we can learn to expect and compensate for.
I’ll often over correct deliberately, putting the twist to the opposite side that it wants to fall.
I know that when I tie everything in with some through shavings it will naturally pull it slightly the other way, and send it right.
Even if I go too far with that over correction, I only have to come in and smooth the surface and eventually in comes back around.
How Much Should You Correct?
The amount that this happens can depend on the plane you’re using.
The more solid, heavy, rigid planes don’t have as much of this effect, nor do most wooden ones I’ve used.
The effect is also more noticeable on harder woods.
It will be personal, but try to observe a pattern, you’ll then be able to deliberately start correcting that error.
If you’re still getting to grips with hand tools then we have plenty of articles to help get you working swiftly: