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The Handplane Book (Taunton Books & Videos for Fellow Enthusiasts) Paperback – September 15, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Woodworkers beware: Garrett Hack has put together a completely irresistible book, beautifully illustrated with color photographs, drawings, diagrams, and everything you would ever want or need to know about the handplane, the ultimate woodworker's tool. Hack covers the history of planes back to Roman times, and explains how to tune and sharpen a handplane, how to use the many different varieties properly, and how to purchase the right kind of plane. In a world where most woodwork is done with machine tools and mechanized wood-shaping devices, The Handplane Book is an ode to the wonders of the beautiful work done with a tool many modern woodworkers have probably forgotten. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Hack is a professional furniture maker. He is a regular contributor to Fine Woodworking magazine.
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Product Details

  • Series: Taunton Books & Videos for Fellow Enthusiasts
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press (September 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561587125
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561587124
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.8 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This is a very informative book.
Amazon Customer
There are wonderful photographs and illustrations used throughout the book that accompany the professionally written text.
"gluehappy"
You will never, ever have to buy another book one the subject.
Marc Ruby™

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Scott Pointon VINE VOICE on August 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a librarian I see a lot of books on this subject, and lately I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about tuning and using hand planes (an area of woodworking that I have been sorely lax about learning). I am here to say that this book is an absolute treasure trove of information. The coverage of all things relating to hand planes is encyclopedic.

I especially value chapter four 'Tuning a Plane', which is a 25 page long clear and precise explanation of every step one should go through when tuning a plane to work properly. I also benefitted greatly from the explanations for the most common uses of each type and size of plane, and the coverage of what to look for when buying a used plane.

I love the fact that Mr. Hack presents this information on a level that assumes you know nothing, without sounding like he is talking to a five year old. In fact, I think it is because the author is admittedly not a hand tool 'purist' that he is able to convey the important information about hand planes to the power tool junkies among us!

If you are in any way interested in this subject matter, buy this book! I highly recommend it!
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123 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Frankly, handplanes scare me. Not because they are particularly dangerous, but because I never seemed to be able to get them set right. Almost every other tool I've used comes out of the box ready to do something interesting to a piece of wood. Planes, however, would always move three inches and dig in, scarring their way across my project. Needless to say I used a lot of sandpaper in my life.

My moment of truth was the surprise acquisition of a Lie-Nielson bench plane at a very reasonable price (if one can ever call a Lie-Nielson plane's price 'reasonable'). Now it was either use it or build a special shelf on which to rest it forever. I did what I always do when confronted with a challenge - I bought a book on handplanes. And into my live came Garrett Hack's remarkable effort, called, appropriately, 'The Handplane Book.'

One can only describe this volume as massive overkill. By the time I got to the chapter entitled 'How to Plane,' I had received instruction on what a plane is, its history, its mechanics, and how to tune it. And once done with that chapter there was even more information on different kinds of planes - truing, sizing, joinery, surfacing, scrapers, shaping, and so one.

Hack writes well, but planes are a dry subject to anyone but the most dedicated. The book is lavishly illustrated with a remarkable selection of planes, old, new, cheap and very, very dear. You will never, ever have to buy another book one the subject. And that's saying something about any book.

Of course, I ran into the shop, grabbed my new plane, fiddled with it like I knew what I was doing and promptly planed three inches, followed by a cloud of dust. But this time I really looked at the plane and though about what to do. More fiddling and I made it a whole six inches. Even more fiddling and then, Gloria Dei, it suddenly went the whole distance! And then did it again! I feel like I've passed one of those arcane rites of passage.
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106 of 111 people found the following review helpful By David L. Miller on December 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This excellent book can certainly serve as a testament to convert those seekers who are unfulfilled with the gospel of Norm Abraham and his idolatrous worship of power tools. However, the real value of this work lies in enriching the woodworking experience for those of us who transmogrify wood for therapy and not solely to achieve the end result. While I was reasonably skilled with hand planes prior to my purchase of this book, Garret Hack helped me ascend to the next level of woodworking consciousness - the smug recognition that a well-tuned hand plane and some basic skills can accomplish many woodworking tasks with better results in less time than an expensive electric tool. An interesting phenomenon occurs as one converts from screaming three-phase power tools to handsaws, chisels, braces and planes - the woodworking experience changes focus from the project to the process. Your ability to read the wood and select the most appropriate stock increases dramatically. You begin to appreciate the wood and even the tools themselves as much as you do the actual project. I've been collecting every manner of woodworking hand tools for years, thinking that in my retirement I could afford the luxury of conducting all my woodworking in a non-electric shop as penance to St. Roy of Underhill for my avaricious glorification of Nikola Tesla. While I may never do away with my table saw, this book has given me the strength to forsake all of my other power tools and relegate them to occasional use when I'm doing rough work on knotty pagan wood. It's a good book - swear to God.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John David Duke on March 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
Hack presents a job far removed from his name. Another pun: this is no hack job; this is a meticulously shaved job. Now, on to the review.

Hack is part of the essentials for handplaning; there's no doubt about it. When I decided I wanted to learn to use a handplane for serious hobbymaking, I was unable to make shaving number one, even after buying two planes. Along with a few forums, a good friend and, above all, Hack, I'm turning roughsawn oak into lots of long, thin, beautiful shavings.

As noted elsewhere, the history helps in understanding the plane. The descriptions and photographs bring the plane to life. The comparisons and contrasts among the innumerable planes help in choosing the appropriate plane for the job at hand.

The photographs and diagrams are especially helpful, and this feature really is the crown of this book. Quite frankly, other books don't meet Hack's standard, and the web is limited, still, by bandwidth and amateurish production quality. Without the text, Hack's photographs and diagrams, with their accompanying notes, are an achievement by themselves.

The text is easy to read and very descriptive, but I do have some quibbles.

Although Hack is careful to distinguish between planes which are collectible and those which are useable (or both), I wish that he had disentagled them from the text, perhaps in different subsections. I found myself mildly annoyed trying to use this book as a reference, e.g., looking for a tip on using a plow plane, but having to extract the tip from descriptions of some interesting, but basically unuseable specimens from an age gone by.

Now, Hack's technical writing is excellent, above all, bar none. It's the real McCoy.
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