Ease Up Will Ya!

Ease Up Will Ya!

Posted by Vic Tesolin on 5th Jun 2024


Working with hand planes can be a rewarding experience when done right. One common issue reported by those new to using planes is fatigue, which can often be drastically reduced by simply easing up on the grip.

Imagine you’re at your workbench. How you hold your tools isn't just about your hands; it's about your entire connection with the wood. Gripping your tools too tightly can disrupt this connection and cause problems in your work. Your tools give you a lot of feedback, and when you hold them too tight, you can miss out on that valuable information.

Another issue is that a tight grip can make your hands shake. When your muscles tense up from gripping too hard, your hands can start to tremble, making precise work tricky. Picture using a hand plane to smooth out the edge of a jointed board. If your grip is too tight, the plane won’t move smoothly, and you might even end up with an unwanted bevel. It's like trying to paint a masterpiece while riding a rollercoaster—not ideal!

Not to mention, holding your tools too tightly can tire you out quickly. When your muscles are straining, they get tired fast, meaning you can't work for as long or as effectively. We’ve all experienced the aftermath: sore forearms and aching hands. By relaxing your grip, you can conserve your energy and enjoy woodworking for longer periods. Think of it as the difference between a marathon and a sprint—pace yourself!

So, how do you learn to hold your tools gently? It takes practice and mindfulness. Start by relaxing your hands and arms before you begin working. Hold your tools firmly but not too tightly. Let the tool guide your movements instead of forcing it. Listen to what your hands and the wood are telling you, and adjust your grip as needed. For hand planes, a gentle grip on the tote still allows you to apply the necessary pressure for smooth surfaces.

Next time you’re in the shop, try holding your hand tools more gently. You’ll find you can work better and longer and enjoy hand-tool woodworking even more. Plus, your hands will thank you for not making them feel like they just went through a workout with a personal trainer.

In order to understand, you must do. - Vic Tesolin