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Solid woodblocks for relief printmaking, in various hard & soft woods, hand made using traditional skills using mainly hand planes etc., by David Rodgers in the UK.

Japanese Planing Beam & Pain

> Blog > Japanese Woodworking Adaptations > Japanese Planing Beam > Japanese Planing Beam & Pain
Sun 29th Nov 2020

I'm experimenting with working on the floor using Japanese methods, using hand tools, but also generally am in a fair amount of pain too, so this was always a risk, but one worth exploring.

In particular I've been using a simple but very effective Japanese Planing Beam (Trial Version 1.0), pulling tools towards me, kneeling on the floor to use it.

Initial Comments

Having suffered Chronic Pain for many years, some of which is muscular, I was initially skeptical about using this method at all - having used a standard European bench, standing up, pushing tools away from it, but I wanted to try it too because standing up doing it wasn't practical too.

I'd heard that pulling tools - including planes - towards me would use different muscles and might give more power to the tools (I only use hand tools - I would never do this with powered tools).

It was surprising easily adapting to pulling tools towards me - I thought it would take a lot of getting used to - but it hasn't - and I'm just using standard European style metal planes.

I've been planing some end grain maple to make a few wood engraving blocks - and this is hard work but a very good test, and here are my thoughts.

Firstly with some care it is possible to do it - I need to think about every move but it is OK. Metal tools are heavier to use pulling (when kneeling down anyway).

But it certainly seems to be using very different muscles with me - after a few hours doing it over a few days, the muscles in my left side / chest / back are really sore - muscles that have had a lot of use - however turning over in bed is quite an experience just now, as are many other simple movements.

However, I think that by doing stretches before hand and during the work, and breaking the planing sessions up into smaller bits, I will hopefully get my body into using these muscles more, and who knows, it might strengthen my back - I will have to see as I go along. But I must be very careful, and build up slowly (with so many COVID distributions, this is going to take a while).

I also have to very aware of my knees - I have been kneeling on a towel recently, but that will I think put too much pressure on my knees, so need a better way to do this - I don't want to injure them - I had a serious accident with my right knee many years ago and it is often sore, I don't want to make that worse.

I also have to consider that I was working one of the hardest woods here, end grain too, and that I won't always do that. I find that end grain holly is a little easier - and side grain cherry etc. shouldn't be so hard.

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