I Didn’t Know Jack

For my latest project, I’m working with a lot of 12″ to 18″ wide boards, so jointing by hand is the road home, and the jack plane is getting some serious mileage.

and miles to go before I sleep

While jointing the first two boards, I learned a lot about what makes a jack plane comfortable in my hands.

First, I learned that while my eyes prefer the subtle elegance of the low knob, my hand prefers the taller knob to keep my palm away from the base of the plane.

(Insert knob joke here.)

My No. 4 smoother had a tall knob, so I swapped it for the low knob from my No. 5. Since the smoothing plane swoops in toward the end of the project when the jack has done all the hard work, it seemed like a good trade.

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The second lesson I learned was the importance of the horn on the tote. Here on the island of broken totes, the tote that was on my jack was missing its horn, leaving an annoying nub that pressed into the web of my thumb.

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Reaching into the parts bin, I found a tote that had broken in half, had been glued back together, and then broken again along the glue line. I glued it together with tinted epoxy, but didn’t quite get the pieces to line up. A shame, really. The rosewood is beautiful on this one.

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As I was about to install the re-glued tote on my jack, I looked up and saw the No. 7 jointer plane that’s been sitting on the shelf just looking good since I got my No. 8 a few years ago. The No. 7 tote is compatible with the No. 5 body, if slightly larger. I won’t complain.

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I didn’t know my jack plane could be so comfortable in my hands.

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