I’ve been handplaning a lot more lately. I’m not really a fan of sanding because of the dust, and a well-tuned handplane leaves a very nice surface that takes finish nicely and doesn’t need sanding. Handplaning with with your workpiece against a single bench dog can be frustrating as the work skateboards around the bench. I recently added some Grammercy Holdfasts to my bench and now it was time for another quick but useful upgrade.
It was 10pm though, and I wasn’t going to wake the wife or the kiddo. I’m a hybrid woodworker, but this was going to be done all by hand in the silence of night. Since this project was inspired by Bob Rozaieski’s Split Top Bench it made sense to build this with only hand tools. Note: a cordless drill and cordless driver count as hand tools tonight.
I pulled an 8′ piece of pine from the pile, finding a piece that was straight and flat. This was quickly crosscut to 4′ in length with the restored crosscut handsaw I purchased from Bad Axe Toolworks at Woodworking in America. I was again astounded at how fast and clean the cut was made by hand, and how square I made the cut without marking a line or using proper work holding. I think this saw just knows how to do the work.
The design of this planing stop is essentially a long bench hook that goes lengthwise with your bench, instead of across. I planed two scraps to a thickness of just about 1/2″. These would be used to make the battens for the hook and the stop. They were cut to length after marking a square line. Again I was happy with how quick and accurate these cuts were.
The hook is sized to fit into the L vise at the end of my bench. It will hold this planing stop securely and is the same thickness as the stop on the topside. This doesn’t need to be the same size as the hook on the topside, it could but that’s how it worked out for this build.
I then needed a long strip to go lengthwise along the backside of the planing stop. This creates a long L shape to hold the workpiece while planing. A nice piece of Walnut in the scrap pile was long, straight, and just the right thickness so it was quickly fastened down with my Milwaukee M12 cordless drill.
The planing stop was now done, and taken for a test drive. The work is held securely and doesn’t move on the push stroke or return stroke. The size of this hook will be fine for at least 80% of the handplaning in my shop, and for pieces that don’t fit I can return to old habits.
I used countersunk brass screws for construction. Screws are reversible if I need to make a modification, and countersinking made the screws less likely to get clipped by a plane blade. Corners and most sharp edges were eased with a block plane.
Along with holdfasts and a bench hook, I recommend that you make a planing stop for your bench.