Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bent Spoons and rubber tubing


I’ve been blogging for two days, and I am already getting ripped in emails from friends. A couple of friends (who are too timid to post their comments here) have asked two questions that are worthy of a response:

Why would you even buy a #1?

What can you do with a #1 if you are so intent on using it?

I bought the little guy (#464) because he called to me from the screen of my computer as I was surfing Ebay. Just as Imelda Marcos could hear the cries of homeless ballerina flats, slingbacks, or wedges I often hear the low frequency call of woodworking tools reaching out to me. In summary, he was cute, dang it. And I wanted him. After years of therapy I can almost refrain from breaking down as I say, “I deserve to be happy.”

As for tuning him up and using him, I offer two possibilities.

1) What if I someday develop a horrible disease that causes my hands to shrink? Although it would require a total revamping of my extensive glove collection, it would not require my complete abandonment of using hand planes. Because even though I could never take a firm hold of my #8 with tiny silver dollar sized paws, I would still be able to bust out mass volumes of shavings with my perfectly fitting #1.

2) Attached is a picture of my niece Maddy who just happens to turn 7 today. (Happy Birthday, Maddy!!! Remember, of all the people on this planet who lack Y chromosomes…. you are still my favorite under the age of 10.) I remember the story of King Saul’s attempt to have our ruddy, young hero David take his kingly sword and armor into battle with Goliath. But David chose not to use them because they didn't fit his style. Well, from now on when kids visit my shop and want to lend a hand I will be able to pull out a bench plane perfectly sized to their diminutive hands, rather than suggesting they tackle the behemoth task of planing with a tool sized and tuned for a king sized guy like me. Honestly, how do you teach a 10 year old boy to balance the downward and forward forces while using a #4 ½ when it’s all he can do to even carry it to the bench?

In anticipation of follow up questions, I will attempt to answer them ahead of time:

1) Won’t these kids complain about the lack of a lateral adjuster on the #1?

Yes, there will be a lot of whining about that.

2) Are you really going to put a $350 plane in the hands of children?

Having no children of my own it is real easy for me to take the misguided approach of treating children as equals. It’s kind of like back when I was still a Cub Scout Den Leader and shooting a lot of H. By the time a kid became a Webelo, I figured if he was mature enough to ask me for a hit, he was mature enough to handle it. Besides I think there was a real benefit to helping kids get over their fear of needles. I mean with the increasing rates of Type 2 Diabetes in obesity-plagued America, eventually everyone over 30 will be shooting Insulin anyway. (Note to self: Buy Lilly stock). (Additional note to self: see if the Boy Scouts of America have changed their policy on Heroin addicted leaders. If so, apply for reinstatement.)

So there you have it. Yeah….I bought a #1, and to celebrate I turned the most famous poem of Indiana’s most famous poet into a Weird Al Yankovic ditty. That’s how I roll.


Jeff Skiver said...

Ya know, instead of everyone emailing me with questions it is ok to post your questions here. (That's kind of what a blog is for...)

So in answer to the questions, "NO. I was not really kicked out of being a Cub Scout Leader because of a heroin addiction." (The truth is once I started developing abscesses, I recognized I had a problem and chose to resign my position with the Scouts.)

rookster said...


Have you considered prosthetics that artificially reduce your hand size? How about constructing a jig that allows more hand space? I suggest perhaps welding a couple pieces of rebar that have been bent to allow strategic placement of full-sized hands.

Thanks for a laugh.

rookster said...

P.S. I added you to my blog roll at

Anonymous said...

Regarding your justifying buying the L-N No 1 by citing a 10 year old's capabilities... I can send you a photo of my 9 year son old using an L-N No 7 this past Saturday... Face it, the No 1 is just something you wanted!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...your niece "Maddy", who seems to have an affinity for bench planes. Strangely enough Chris Schwarz is singing your praises these days (albeit, well deserved, I definitely enjoyed your article in PW), and if memory serves has a daughter named "Maddy". Bit of nepotism going on? Or just a good guy taking hit for Schwarz and "holding" a #1 for him, thus avoiding a wivesagainstschwarz incident?

Anonymous said...

Chris sent me. Just thought you and he would get a kick out of that.

From my cub scout days experience I'd recommend that you keep sharp objects away from them. Especially heavy sharp things.

Being rather new to planes the No. 1 appears to be an exersize in tool making rather than filling any useful purpose (unless selling them is useful to you). Luckily I've never seen one or being totally fasinated by such things I'd have to have one too.

Jeff Skiver said...

Well, I can assure you all that my niece Maddy is no relation to Chris' daughter Maddy. In fact, let's not let my niece know that anyone else even shares her name, because given her Diva nature, she would be pretty ticked off at the thought of having to share her name with anyone.

I think that Maddy was one of those strangely faddish names early into the new millennium. I don't know why it happened in the late 60s/early 70s with "Jeff" but I do know that I have been in more than one conference call where there were 4 people with three of us named "Jeff."

I just thought of this.... it's probably a good thing that Chris Schwarz only has daughters, otherwise, there would be some nerdy kids walking around with the names Stanley Norris Schwarz and Warrington Maydole Schwarz. (They would never get picked for a kickball team.)

Anonymous said...

I use my LN #1 quite often. When I turn it around and pull it, it fits my hand perfectly. Whenever I'm working something so large I don't want to move the work or myself (picture working on a kinetic sculpture on a 12 foot ladder), the #1 is my apron plane.

Anonymous said...

I love the purple heart. Do you have more? Do you have any projects you wish to do with it?