When planing a board with the grain, there is clearly a right direction and a wrong direction, but how can I tell by inspection which way to push before I begin?
Carol Reed: Indeed there is. Look at the edge grain. The direction the grain rises to the surface you want to plane is the same direction you want to push your plane.
Michael Dresdner: Look on the edge of the board adjacent to where you want to cut. In most cases, the grain lines will run at a slight diagonal so that each grain line emerges at some point. The cutter, whether in a hand plane or jointer, should never go against the emerging grain lines.