Abandoned Fishing Trawl and Birch-Bayfield County, WI

Backing Out

by Matthew Nienow

A backing out plane is a specialty tool
often used in planking and oar making

There is a plane with a convex sole,
a small segment of a circle
much larger than the plane or any
piece of wood the plane might work;
mine is made of purple heart and ash,
glued and peened, the iron ground
to match the sole so when to the wood
it goes, it curls bright ribbons of cedar
or larch and begins to leave a hollow
where it was, whatever shape the frame
suggests. I make the shape. I do the work.
I hit the plane on its nose or heel,
a quick clock from the mallet.
One side makes the blade
dig deeper in the wood.
The other draws it up again. I do
the work. Tap here. Tap there.
The blade is sharp;
I know how very close I am.