My Gateway Hand Tool – Veritas DX60 Block Plane

After a few small projects, I have become infected with the woodworking bug.  When I initially set up shop it was all about the power tools – that’s what we had in high school shop class, and it is what I thought a proper wood shop contained.  And when it came to power tools,  I simply wanted to work wood – not hunt for equipment on Craig’s List or restore machinery – so I opted for new tools.  Grizzly seemed to be the best bang for the buck, so I ultimately built up to some nice hardware from that purveyor.  The big machines are on mobile bases, and are kept against the wall when not in use so that I could still park the cars in the garage.  I am not going to scrape ice off a windshield if I can avoid it!

Grizzly      Grizzly Shop

I relied fully on power tools for those first projects, never giving any thought to hand tools.  In my ignorant bliss hand tools seemed primitive and archaic, a hassle to maintain, and only used by fuddy duddy die hards – not something for a modern, efficient shop.  So I tried to ignore every mention of them.

Then Fine Woodworking had an article on block planes, and the versatility they bring to a shop.  The Veritas DX60 was highly recommended – and it’s neoteric lines caught my eye. It’s design reminded me of a Harley Davidson V Rod – a modern take on the classic form.  I happened to be going to Toronto for a business trip a few weeks later, and with a Lee Valley store nearby I decided I would pick up one as a potentially functional souvenir.

During the next project I encountered some burn marks on the edge of a board from the table saw.  I had come to dread these burns – it took ages to sand them clean, and it often compromised the crisp square edges of the board.  So I got out the block plane and started fiddling around with it.  I truly didn’t know what I was doing, but after a while I finally got the blade set and took a pass along the edge. A thin curl of wood streamed from plane, and 90% of the burn marks were gone.  Wow!  After a second pass they were completely gone – leaving a smooth, crisp edge behind!

veritas dx60

I was so excited I brought the first couple shavings into Nicole, then started running the plane along every scrap piece of wood in the shop.  It was addictive.  Now that I was molding wood by hand, I was clearly a “real” woodworker.  Actually, I disagree with the statement that only real woodworkers use hand tools, but I can’t deny that this was the feeling I got the first time I created shavings by hand!

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