Ode to the No. 8

It’s iron, the No. 8, cast iron, which makes using it a commitment. When you lift it, you are forced to reckon that muscles are going to be employed. Whenever I lift it, REM’s “Driver 8” leaps immediately to my mind, and I begin singing: “Driver 8, take a break/ take a break, Driver 8/ Driver 8, take a break, we can reach our destination.”

For difficult work, you should expect to take a break every now and again, but if you’ve taken care to dimension your boards to something resembling square, the No. 8 will get you there with little effort, making your life as easy as any tramp on a freight train.

The Beloved No. 8, which joined the edges of the panels in the background.

The Beloved No. 8, which joined the edges of the panels in the background.

The No. 8 is called a joiner. The idea is, since it’s about two feet long, that this plane will glide down the edge of your board, making every high place low, and by correlation, raising up any low places, so that, no matter how long your boards, the edges will be such that they will make contact from end to end, and you will experience the glory of an easy glue-up. All you have to do is give the plane a little momentum so that it can slide down from one end of the board to the other end, and then you have to stop its momentum, lift it, and bring it back to the beginning.

I like to set my iPhone to my Wilco Pandora station, which plays about one half Wilco tunes and one half Flaming Lips tunes (a very nice pair), put my forearm into the cradle of the No. 8, and make long, curly shavings. It’s like shaving a bit of heaven so that it lands in your world: the feel of iron on wood, the comfort of leaning into the iron, the miracle of such a heavy piece of iron drifting atop a piece of wood, releasing its fragrance, while a few oddball musicians fill my ears with music, crooning about the oddities of living in a world of love and hate.

Yep, this is an ode to the Stanley No. 8 planer, the joiner. It cannot lie, by its nature. Everything it does is true. If you find something about the No. 8 that is not true, then it is you.