The name James Krenov looms large over American woodworking. One of the defining furniture makers of the 20th century, he was also a legendary teacher at California’s College of the Redwoods (now simply called the Krenov School). And while his furniture is iconic in the modern era, he’s perhaps equally known for an iconic tool: his laminated wooden hand planes, which he described as “the cabinetmaker’s violin.” (Students at the Krenov School begin their education by making their own planes and mastering the art of setting them up and tuning them.)
David Finck, a woodworker and graduate of Krenov’s school, has written the definitive guide to making and maintaining these iconic planes, although this book contains much more than just that. Finck discusses the basics of wood, both for making planes and as a medium to be shaped by them, and then moves on to basic tools and techniques readers will need to start work on their own plane. You’ll learn how to grind and sharpen a plane iron and get the most out of any plane you use, whether wooden or metal-bodied. Then, of course, you’ll learn how to use the plane itself, for shooting end grain, flattening large surfaces, working thin boards, and smoothing curved edges. Making & Mastering Wood Planes was brought back into print by Lost Art Press, who reissued it in an upgraded edition that features sewn pages, higher-quality paper, and hardcover binding. It’s made entirely in the United States.