Paul Sellers’ plane pull test

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An often raised topic is that it’s hard to know what sharp is unless you’ve experienced a degree of sharpness to gauge against.  For those of us who’ve taught ourselves to hand sharpen with only online resources, it can indeed be tricky to know.

Paul Sellers posted a video a while back where in one part he pulled a hand plane across a piece of wood with a rope from the front knob, allowing it to cut under its own weight, with no additional downforce.  He recently posted another much shorter video demonstrating the same technique as an example of what a sharp blade should be able to do.

That got me thinking, it is a good litmus test for us hand tool users when discussing sharpness.  It’s an easy and universal benchmark to strive for, and a simple measure when it is suspected that someone’s issues may be due to lack of sharpness… “how do you go with the plane pull test?”

That all said, I decided to measure my own sharpening journey against the plane pull test, with pleasing results.  To be honest, I was secretly hoping I would “pass”, but it did feel a little like getting ready for a driving test! 

Here’s my effort with my #4 and a length of pine:

Phew. does that mean I’m officially off my L plates?

April 2020

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