Lets Be Honest Does It Really Matter?
Updated: Mar 1, 2019
I get a lot of comments on my youtube channel with folks complaining about how I set my hand planes on my workbench. I don't put much thought into it and haven't developed a habit of doing it one way or the other. It does seems to be hardwired into every hand tool enthusiast that you absolutely must place your plane on its side and if you don't you've lost all credibility as a furniture maker. I'm not here to say its wrong, I'm here to say does it really matter? Lets examine this practice a little closer: First, if you think your wooden work bench top is going to dull your plane blade you're wrong. Well maybe it could but I would compare the process to that of erosion...it would take a long time! The reason we're taught to place the hand plane on its side is to protect the plane from being set down on a metal object, like a ruler. This is good logic but personally I'm less likely to set my plane down on something metal as I would be to bang something metal into it as I'm shuffling things around on my bench. If my plane is face down the blade can't be damaged. That's just me and its a result of being messy and un-organized, which is a more concerning issue over how I set my planes down. Here's what Garrett Hack has to say about it:
"Always lay the plane on its side on the bench or rest the toe on a thin scrap of wood so that the cutting edge is off the bench. Its far too easy to nick or dull the iron by carelessly setting it on the end of a steel rule or a bit of hardware lying on your bench." - (The Handplane Book, 1999, Chapter 5, page 91)
You pick what works best for you but my opinion is, outside of carelessness either option is a good option.