No, really, you can build one yourself.

Let me begin by saying that if you haven’t watched the plane build video on The English Woodworker website, go do that now before reading the rest of this post.

No really, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Watched it? Good.

Now, I have to say this. Since moving to hand tools I’ve taken the path that most people take these days and I started with a Stanley no.5 Jack plane. My experience with that plane lead to a long and slippery slope of more (and more expensive) metal planes until I finally worked and saved enough to outfit myself with a full set of premium metal bodied planes.

I have thoughts about that.

For instance, I’m not sure I like my Lie-Nielsen no.5 more than I did my Stanley. There are definite benefits to premium planes, but after selling the Stanley to someone starting out, now I think I’d rather have that one back. That’s all beside the point though. The point is, the more familiar I became with metal planes, the more I reserved a special sense of mystery for wooden planes. I had one. It was past hope. I couldn’t tune it or set it and I reasoned all wooden planes would feel like that in my hands. They were reserved for elves and people in Maine who somehow had the magic to work the arcane beasts.

All of that changed a few weeks ago when Joshua Klein sent me a set of wooden bench planes (that weren’t total wrecks) and I actually set about using them. After a little bit of a learning curve, I found that I really enjoyed them and that’s what brings me back around to Richard McGuire’s video (which you really should have watched by now even if you skipped my earlier exhortation).

Well, bugger, I thought. I can do that.

So I ordered a billet of beech wood from Dan Schwank at Red Rose Reproductions, and a 2″ blade and cap iron from Lee Valley (note: this was literally one day before Dan announced he was selling cap irons too and I probably would have just ordered everything from him).

If you’ve watched the video, the rest is pretty self explanatory so I’ll show rather than tell. If you’re wondering what it takes to build something like this, I did use a band saw to rip the sides off of the billet and rough dimension the wood, and a drill press to hog out the handle mortise, but the rest was all hand tools.

And now, it’s just another part of the family.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Joe says:

    About a year ago, I realized that in addition to my metal no 8 and 4-1/2, I really should have a fore plane (that whole Schwartz coarse medium fine thing). Since a fore plane is for rough stock, it didn’t need to be as precise in order to do it’s job. That got rid of the intimidation factor. I made it all with hand tools (would have liked to have had a band saw to cut off the sides but I did just fine without). I used all cutoffs from bits I had laying about for the wood.

    You are correct, it was easy to make. Even carving a knob and handle (though they won’t win any prizes) wasn’t that big of a deal. It works beautifully. It’s funny looking back to think how much I stressed over it. I very much enjoy using it, probably more than most tools I own because, well, because I built it. So, if you still have any doubt, start with a fore or scrub plane. For me, it reduce the mental worry burden considerably about the whole thing.


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