Question Time

I love it when you folks send in questions, keep them coming, and don’t forget you can always ask me on twitter here

Now on with the show…


Dear David,

I realize you mentioned that there are already enough ‘how too’ videos out there, however there are relatively few out there teaching the British nuances such as you own. For instance:

1. How do you get a slightly curved plane iron without the tedious procedures with “training wheels” that D.C. recommends? By the way, David’s method works beautifully but if there is a faster, easier way… ?!

2. You’ve describe the “Cullen” marking gauge as your favorite but just above that sentence, you say you tune marking gauges. Anyway, a short clip on how to tune-up a cheap marking gauge would be most helpful. You also say cutting gauges are better…I’m confused?  Do you mean these from Lee Valley?

3. Anymore feedback on Veritas bench plane? They are quite a bit cheaper than LN or Clifton and of course available with carbon blades. I have heard of Clifton and LN planes being out of true as well, but of course replaced at no charge. I believe Veritas would also replace any bad tools. I am in Canada now so shipping would be much better from a Canadian company. (Canadian poste and customs are horrible when trying to get something in from outside Canada!).

Warmest Regards,


Hi Stephen
I will try and respond as you ask good questions on subjects that have confused others before you.

1 – The training wheels that Charlesworth promotes are, we believe, not helpful to anyone except possibly a total novice. The best way to sharpen is quickly and easily; if it is quick and easy then you will do it often and not let a bag of spanners gather beneath your bench to be sharpened “When I get around to it”. Sharpening without jigs and all the other foolish parafinalia that tool makers sell the unwary is easy but only when you know the method.
Yes it is faster, on his current website, Charlesworth advocates spending four minutes on an edge. I think this is absurd. A professional workshop would never be able to afford to employ anyone who was so slow, and it is one of the first thing many shops look at when they are seeking to employ someone. An experienced maker can put a keen edge on a tool in 30 seconds and, because he or she uses his body as a jig, can also sharpen spokeshaves, carving chisels, in canal gouges, adzes, odd shaped or short chisels that wont fit in the stupid sharpening jig that Charlesworth promotes so assiduously. The man is a hazard to the understanding of professional furniture making techniques. No, I don’t accept that it is valid for amateurs, except perhaps the most inexperienced novice.

Click here to see how we teach it here with our great sharpening woodworking hand tools tutorial DVD

I do appreciate the question because it is important to be able to put a good edge on a cutting tool. EASILY.

2 – The Cullen cutting guage that I use is shown on the page you mention.
Thank you for the reference, I will put it on the tools page. I use cutting guages because they tend to cut cleaner lines. They can be used long grain and cross grain. Tool makers want you to have both cutting and marking guages. This is rubbish. Marking guages can be tuned up to give a good result and cheap wooden guages can be filed to scribe a clean line. So don’t go spending tons on these tools. Do stay away from the Titemark variants, very costly, over complicated and not easy to adjust.

Why, because a marking or cutting guage should be a one handed tool, you have the job in one hand and the tool in the other. Offer the job up to the tool and look. Now adjust by tapping either end of stock or top of stock on the bench. Look tap-tap, look, tap, look, got it, now tighten the locking screw.

3 – A Canadian friend of ours called Al Shaver, was here a few of years ago; he is very complimentary about Veritas tools and the Lee Valley website as you would expect. I would love to see a recent Lee Valley bench plane but I have not been able to get a student to buy one and I don’t need yet another plane myself. I do need a small shoulder plane and Al brought over the small Veritas Shoulder plane that looks wayyyy better than the Lei Neilsen equivalent.
We have returned both Clifton and Lei Neilsen bench planes in the past three months; this is a waste of everyone’s time and money – Clifton were very apologetic and sent my inconvenienced student a small shoulder plane as an apology. The Lie Neilsen was replaced relatively quickly without comment. When I screw up and waste peoples time, which happens, I always try and make it up to them……..Grrrr.


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