Of all the planes you would find in a woodworking shop, the block plane is probably the handiest. Its simple design, compact size, ease of adjustment, and responsiveness make it a shop favorite for a wide range of shop tasks.
Block planes have been around since 1874, when Stanley introduced the # 9 1/2.Today there are over 20 models to choose from. At PFW both Alan and Mario favor the Lie-Nielsen # 102 & 103.
Below are some situations where a block plane would be a great choice.
Leveling banding on Mario’s new serpentine hall table
Trimming banding- Thin bandings are set into a solid ground and require a sensitive tool to trim the banding flush to the surface, which is often a veneer. A block plane will require only light pressure to get the job done.
Leveling a panel glue-up
Leveling panels- A compact block plane easily fairs and flattens adjoining panels on this Jefferson lap desk without damaging the fragile borders of the panels.
Birdseye maple veneer
Tricky grain- On swirling bird’s eye maple, a block plane can nimbly navigate sudden grain changes, inlaid stringing, and cross-grain borders, leaving a flawless surface.
Compact and comfortable- A block plane can sit comfortably in your palm while fitting into very tight spaces.
Check out Mario’s extensive comparison of block planes for FWW (Sept/Oct 2012, Issue #228).
The router is probably the most useful and versatile portable power tool in any modern cabinet shop. This hand-held wonder can decorate edges, straighten seams, cut dadoes and plows, and form perfect joinery. In the right-trained hands, a router can produce impeccable sliding and half-blind dovetails, and cut both mortises and tenons as well as cutting perfect circles and arcs. It is indispensable for setting hinges, trimming veneer, and even fluting.
Trim router with pattern routing bit
Machine cut dovetail jig
Routers are rated for light and heavy-duty and range from light weight trim routers to 15 amp workhorses. There are fixed base and plunge models; some are designed for trimming applications exclusively. You can find the perfect router for any task.
To extend the versatility of routers, there is an almost endless selection of router bits and cutters capable of producing almost any effect a woodworker can dream up. So if you want to get more out of your woodworking, step up to the router.
Mortising with guide bushing on round table leg
At PFW, we teach two courses designed to familiarize students with all so versatile router.
Router Basics 1 covers the hand held router.
Router Basics 2 covers the table mounted router.
Both help students begin the journey to safe and competent routing.