This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
Wood to be planed should be laid quite flat on the bench, and tight against a " stop " to prevent its moving. The planing must always follow the direction of the grain of the wood, and never meet it or cross it. If a piece of wood should exhibit the grain running in different directions in different portions of its surface, the piece must be turned about accordingly so that the plane may always go with the grain. The sole of the plane is necessarily subjected to a considerable degree of wear, which ultimately renders it useless for all but the roughest work. This effect can be much reduced in the case of a wholly wooden stock, by occasionally oiling the surface. A more enduring but more costly method is to shoe the sole with metal, or to have a metallic stock, as most of the new American planes have. As the sole (wooden) wears, it must be periodically planed up true again.
The method of applying the jack-plane is as follows. The right hand grasps the handle or "toat,"the forefinger being extended along the wedge; the left hand partially encircles the front part of the plane with the thumb turned inwards. The trying-plane is also held similarly for " facing up," but in applying the force of the arms there is this difference, that while with the jack-plane the pressure of the hands should be uniform throughout the stroke, with the trying-plane the chief pressure should come from the left hand for the first half of the stroke and from the right for the last half. For "shooting" work, the trying-plane is held differently, the lingers beneath the sole serving as a sort of gauge for keeping the plane on the narrow edge of the board being worked. The smoothing-plane is held by the right hand clutching it behind the knife (there is no handle) and the left grasping its front end with the left thumb on top and pressing it down. The rabbeting plane is also called a filister or filletster. It is provided with a " screw stop " and a " fence " for the purpose of limiting the range of its cut in both width and depth.
The small grooving iron in front of the plane proper should extend a little beyond it, with the object of detaching the wood sideways before the plane has to remove a shaving downwards; thus the angle is cutout perfectly clean. The plough, in many respects closely resembles the fibster. Indeed the latter may easily be extemporised out of a plough by adopting the following suggestion put forward by Ellis Davidson. Supposing a (Fig. 364) to represent the plane looking at the fore end, and b a board in the edge of which it is required to cut a rebate 1/2 in. wide and 1/4 in. deep; a strip of these dimensions has literally to be planed away, and the plane must therefore not travel horizontally farther on the surface of the board than 1/2 in., nor vertically sink deeper than 1/4 in. The plane with which the work is to be done is 1 1/2 in. wide. Plane up a strip of wood c to the width of 1 in. (the thickness will not be any consideration), and screw it at right angles to another piece d, thus forming the letter L. This forms a case which will, when planed and fastened to the side of the plane by a couple of screws, shut off 1 in. of the width of the sole, allowing it to encroach upon the surface of the board to the extent of 1/2 in. only; a mere strip e screwed on the other side at 1/4 in. from the sole, will prevent the plane sinking deeper than is required.
On no account should the guide be screwed to the sole of the plane, which should always be kept perfectly smooth, the surface uninjured by screw holes. Nor is it necessary to damage the sides of the plane by more than 2 small screw holes, for the same side-piece d may be permanently used, the width of the strip c being altered according to circumstances; and the width of e can also be regulated, either by planing a portion off below the screws if the rebate is to be deeper, or moving the screws lower down in the strip if it is to be shallower, taking care that the holes correspond with those in the side of the plane, and that the strips do not cover the apertures through which the shavings should escape.