How a Cheap Paintbrush Improved My Handplane Skills

I’ll admit it.  I used to put my hand planes away dirty.  Sometimes, after a hard session at the workbench, I was just too tired to even blow the dust off my tools before shoving them into the toolbox and staggering off to a hot shower.  But most of the time, I hesitated to thoroughly clean my hand planes because I had taken SO much time to get them adjusted JUST RIGHT, and I couldn’t bear the thought of taking apart the cutter assembly until I absolutely had to.

The problem is that all that dust is a moisture-magnet, and I would occasionally pull a plane out of my tool box only to find the edges beginning to rust.  Then I read a recommendation to keep a small paintbrush in your toolbox for brushing dust out of the nooks and crannies of hand planes. I picked up a cheap one at a home center soon after.

Notice the dust and shavings in the mouth of the plane, as well as the dust caught at the sides of the chipbreaker.


A lot of dust and chips get trapped in the corners of a hand plane, even after just a few strokes.  So I resigned myself to the torturous task of pulling the cutter out of my planes, removing the chipbreaker, and dusting the inside corners before putting the plane away at the end of the day.

After doing this a few times, a funny thing happened.  I got faster at putting the plane back together.  My adjustments got more controlled and precise.  The more often I removed the iron and then re-set it, the better I became at it.

I realized that the fear of not being able to re-set the plane just right had prevented me from learning how to do just that.  Now, thanks to a cheap paintbrush, I not only have cleaner hand planes, but I’m learning to adjust them more easily, too.

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9 Responses to How a Cheap Paintbrush Improved My Handplane Skills

  1. sablebadger says:

    good advice, I’m guilty of not putting my tools away after a session too. I really need to develop better habits.

  2. Marilyn says:

    I some times use a bicycle hand pump to blow the dust out and then use my oil soaked rag that I keep in a tuperware container to wipe down. The smaller brush idea is good too!

  3. Pingback: Children Learn by Watching | The Literary Workshop Blog

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