How Should You Set Down Your Hand Planes on a Workbench?

//How Should You Set Down Your Hand Planes on a Workbench?

In the above video I answer the popular question: “How should you set your hand plane on your woodworking workbench? On the plane’s side? Or on it’s sole?”


I’m actually quite tired of hearing this debate from my followers, so awhile ago I took a poll of quite a few famous traditional woodworkers who use handplanes regularly. What did I discover? They, just like the millions of commenters online, also disagree with each other!

Proponents of the “plane down” theory are adamant that placing the hand plane downward will protect the freshly honed iron (blade), and that a workbench should get scuffed up anyway.

Proponents of the “plane on its side” theory argue that the hand plane’s iron will get dulled by the workbench, and also that the workbench’s nice top should be protected from dings and scratches.

What’s my view? I do both. Why? Because I don’t care one way or another. There are better things to worry about…like how to scratch up some more money to buy more tools. I don’t even think about it, and do both ways, and have never noticed a problem with the irons getting dull or the workbench getting dinged (not that I care about that anyway).


Do you think it really matters how to set down your hand plane? If so, please feel free to respectfully comment below…

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About the Author:

Joshua loves mixing his passion for traditional hand tool woodworking with his ability to teach in a simple manner. He lives on a small farm in Earlysville, Virginia with his wife and four children, and builds furniture in his workshop / woodworking school.

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DougJoshua Farnsworthtom satterleefairwoodworkingBruce Recent comment authors
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Age 13 or 14, when I took Shop the teacher said, “… on its side to protect blade from chipping.” It makes sense, then and now. One class could be building flour scoops from tin cans, and metal grit was everywhere. But, I suspect it was due to untrained hands putting the plane on top of combo squares, or other chunks of metal.

The current rage is blade-down simply because the tool looks sexier that way in pictures and YouTube shots.


Bruce, this is not my argument against “on its side” I would never place a plane blade down on finished furniture, but not for the sake of the blade. I learned that the hard way by ruining a desk. What seems common with on side believers is that they learned it in shop class, and I think that is a big hint on why it was taught. 1. Students tend to be careless and planes can get casually put on top of any number of other tools and lord knows what kind of shrapnel. If you were the teacher, anything… Read more »


I usually put them blade down with a piece of scrap under the toe or heel. Blade is safe from damage, and the blade can’t damage what the plane is resting on. With the plane on its side the blade is exposed to everything on my bench. One accidental movement, and a part for a project could be damaged, or worse. I slice myself of the blade and end up staining the whole project red. Do what you want, this works for me. Neither method makes you a “real” woodworker.

tom satterlee
tom satterlee

when will the continued portion of your tour of Frank;s shop be available



Iron down to keep it from getting hit with chisels, other planes etc. A tradesman with any common sense won’t sit the plane down on top of a hard object. But if the plane is on its side other items may get bumped and hit the iron. So with the iron down there should be no chance of the iron being nicked. As far as finished furniture, no tools should be sat on those surfaces, THAT IS what the work bench is for. A mark from a finely set plane should be easy to remove from an unfinished desk top.… Read more »

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