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Fail to Succeed: My Flawed Sticking Board Journey

Updated: Jun 6

If you've ever tried planing moldings or non-flat shapes with hand tools, you know how frustrating it can be when your parts keep shifting as you work.

That's where the sticking board comes in.

But as I learned the hard way, there's a right way and a wrong way to make one. From cheap materials to design flaws, my initial attempt was a failure that had my parts shooting off the bench.

OverTime 8.3 explores what I did wrong and where you can go to learn how to do it right.

When I'm filming The Hand Tool Practice I do my best to show as much as I can without step-by-step narration.

But sometimes there's a nuanced topic that could use some explaining or I get a really good question from a viewer.

This video refers to:

You can find the other OverTime videos from HTP8 here:



If you don't think you have time to get anything done with your hand tools in the shop, you might want to consider picking up The Hand Tool Practice.

Just spend a little bit of time on a regular basis with your tools in your shop and those small chunks of time will add up to a finished project.

But this is not the hand tool practice. This is overtime.

Overtime 8.3 - The Sticking Board

What's a Sticking Board, and why do you need one?

We're going to talk about this thing you might have seen me struggling with in the video. This is a sticking board and I first learned about sticking boards in this book by Matthew Bickford.

The reason I needed an apparatus like this while I was making this part is it's essentially the shape of a molding. It's not flat so I'm not going to be just pushing down and forward as I'm planing it. I need to also push away for myself.

So I needed something to push against and that's what the sticking board gave me that extra dimension to push in.

What did I do wrong?

When I made it, I didn't do a very good job.

First I picked the wrong materials. This plywood is too thin and it's bowed. Had I been thinking, maybe had I not been so cheap and just went and got some better material, but had I been thinking about it, the crown of this bow is in the center on the top of the board.

Flying parts

And so when I put the part down, it was wobbling like this. I put the plane down on this end of the part, that end would pop up. And when I just had this little piece of walnut down here, it would skip over the top and the part would shoot off the end of the bench.

If I had gotten lucky, I would have had the crown facing down in the middle of the board and then the part would have been touching on either end no matter where I was and because it's thin, you know, as I plain it would have flattened itself out.

A short term fix

So part way through, I decided to put a screw in here, which is something that Matt talks about in his book. And I filed it to a point so that the end of the part would bite, the screw would bite into the end of the part. And it would act as kind of like a toothplaning stop in my bench.

That helped.

A long term fix

But I think what I need to do is just throw this away and make a new one.

And funnily enough, a few days after I put that video out, Lost Art Press published the appendix in the book that covers how to make a good sticking board. So maybe Chris and Megan are watching over there.

Hmm, maybe not.

So you don't have to buy the book. I'll put a link to the blog post where they talk all about what you need to know to make a good sticking board.


Appearing in this video:

Classic Stanley Hand Tools T-Shirt - Dark Grey Heather - L

No. 62 Low Angle Jack from Lie-Nielsen

Items noted with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. You'll pay the same price and support my work when I receive a small commission from the retailer.

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