Hand Me The (Electric) Plane Truth

Just a little play on words there.

Over the centuries there have been many improvements made when it comes to tools. Nearly all of them are improvements or adaptations of older technologies.

toolsThe wood screw that is either the bane of every carpenter’s existence or his salvation, depending on his point of view, evolved from much older tech. The screw itself was originally designed as a method of moving water into irrigation canals. That is a shaft surrounded by helical threads did. Usually made from wood.

That progressed to something like a screw that was use in presses. Then at some later date it was adapted as a method for holding things together. Later as other technologies improved it was  made of metal, then standardized and then mass produced. To the point where, for many circumstances, it has replaced the tried and trusty nail as the primary fastener used on the job.

The old brace and bit  became the drill motor, then the hand drill, then the cordless drill, and in a borrowing from other tools for other applications, to the impact driver that is the preferred method of fastening with screws today.

When I was a young man and wood siding was the predominate covering for the houses we worked on, we used to carry a block plane with us whenever we were working on siding. If you are not familiar, a block plane is a smallish plane that can be easily carried in a carpenter’s apron, and is quite handy for making final adjustments to cuts before installation.

Nowadays, as wood siding takes a back seat to other (fake) methods, the block plane is not as prevalent on the job, certainly not for siding anyway. But the manual plane has evolved into the handheld electric power plane.

Though not a tool that was ever used much for things like siding since it is just too awkward to be used like that, the electric plane still has manifold uses on a job site, at least when it comes time to do some finishing.

Not only is it the premier tool for doing things like shaving down wood doors, in higher end jobs there are often relatively massive boards being used in applications where much finer trim would be used in entry level houses.

This trim often needs to be massaged in order to attain the level of fit and finish that the buyers of these homes expect. Once filing and sanding have been ruled out, for instance when  fair bit of material needs to be removed, out comes the electric hand plane.

When used by a competent carpenter, a planer can remove material at a quick rate and with notable fine control. This means that scribed edges can be modified and tested at a rapid pace.

Much in the way that the cordless impact has changed the way that carpenters do their jobs, the electric plane has made another facet of the operation quicker and easier, while also improving the end product.

Technology impacts every area of our existence today. Changing at an ever faster rate. To the extent that those changes make our lives easier, we can rejoice in them, all the while realizing that craftsmanship lies with the man, not in the way he goes about his craft.