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A notched batten is one of the best jigs you can make to help in hand planning. This simple thin hardwood strip has a hoof-shaped notch at its end and is used to prevent boards from shifting during planing. The way it works is pretty simple. First, tuck your board against the bench’s planing stop, then introduce the notched batten to the rear outer corner of the board and clamp it in place using a hold fast or a long reach clamp. Once planning begins, the workpiece will be pressed (forward) toward the planing stop and (sideways) against the notched batten and will not be able to move, hence making planing both an effective and predictable process.
The notched batten that I built recently is based on traditional designs but with one deviation. Instead of only one centered notch on one end, I created two: One notch is generic (a), whereas the notch on the opposite end (b) is pivoted to an asymmetrical position.
Adding an off-centered notch increases the batten’s clamping possibilities by providing us with additional corner contact positions. Since workpieces come in various lengths, and since the benchtop holes for our holdfasts are few and far between, having a batten that can be placed at either 45 degrees angle, 55, or 35 degrees adds to the jig’s versatility.
In addition to the typical diagonal clamping positioning of the batten, the jig can shine in many other situations. Here I employed the notched batten directly behind an awkward-shaped workpiece and, with the help of a clamp, prevented the piece from shifting during clamping.
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