You're in a large cave. There are exits to the North and West. There is a Troll. Do you:

1. Talk to the Troll
2. Kill the Troll
3. Go to and let the video download while you struggle through the following prosaic prose, then watch the video and have it explained much more clearly.

Answer 1, 2 or 3

So at last, the good stuff - using the blessed thing. First up, the user/hardware interface aka Holding It. Right hand on the rear tote, ideally with the forefinger pointing forwards - that's the pushing hand. Left hand is best with the thumb hooked over the fence and the fingers pressing against the fence as low down as practicable - that's the guiding hand.

Let me stress here this is No Time For Multi-Tasking. DO NOT be tempted to get your right hand to "help" by trying to push slightly right-wards in a misguided attempt to keep the fence tight - you'll just end up tipping the plane. Equally DO NOT try pushing with the guiding hand because you risk pulling the fence away from the work. Both hands, of course, contribute to keeping everything vertical.

Choose yourself some nice friendly wood to practice on; no point in trying to take a University Degree whilst in Kindergarten. Establish which way the grain's going and orientate it so you're going with it and behold! you've just cracked half the secret of success with combis. Make sure the work is held firmly and the fence isn't going to foul the workbench, not only at the beginning but allow for the fact the fence gets lower as the cut deepens too.

Now It Is Written that thou shalt start the cut from the far end and work back to the full length in successive passes. Huh? Like this.

The idea is the short strokes are easier to control and as they get longer there's the previously planed pathway for the nose of the plane to naturally follow. Makes sense to me. Trouble is some people actually claim to find it easier just planing from one end to the other in the usual way. Sigh, this individuality thing's a pain sometimes, isn't it? So try both and see which you prefer; I promise not to Send The Boys Round if you do it the "wrong" way.

Other than that the same technique applies as ordinary planing - pressure towards the toe at the start of the cut, towards the heel at the end. Basically try and plane it hollow and you'll avoid the evils of dipping ends (sounds nasty). To avoid chewing up the edge of the groove I use extra care until the groove is established, then once it's going I can speed up and charge to and fro without removing the plane from the cut.

All going well? Keeping an eye on that pointer to make sure you're staying vertical. Hmm, taking a while perhaps? Have a try at increasing the coarseness of the cut a little; there isn't really any hard and fast rule on an ideal shaving thickness but obviously it's got to be easy enough to push the plane so you don't lose control and fine enough for the desired finish. e.g. a bead as a surface decoration will want a finer shaving than a groove that's not visible. Bizarrely I've had some boards give a better finish with a coarser cut so frankly I give up...

As you get close to finished depth you may find the plane stops cutting at the far end and gradually the shavings get shorter and shorter and maybe a bit patchy. Keep working along the groove to make sure you've got to depth all the way along the length, remove plane from groove, heave a sigh of relief and give yourself a pat on the back. Have a look at your handiwork and see if it's vertical. If it is, well done - I planed no end of sloping monstrosities when I started.

And dat, folks, am de basics.

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