Building the Infill Shooting Plane #1: Getting on Target

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by JayT posted 07-19-2016 02:57 AM 1662 reads 38 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building the Infill Shooting Plane series Part 2: Prepare to open your mouth »

During the 2015 Plane and Spokeshave Swap, I built a couple of what came to be called Transitional Infill Shooting Planes.

Click for details

A few people asked for a blog, but there weren’t enough pics to really document the build, so it wasn’t done. Well, after completing a few other projects, I decided to build one more and will try to do a detailed enough blog that someone else could follow along and build their own shooting plane.

Lets get started.

Gathering materials. First thing is to find a donor transitional plane. These can usually be found very inexpensively where the wood is shot, but the iron parts are salvageable. From this, you will need the frog assembly, frog screws, iron assembly and lever cap.

For those that don’t know, the irons on a transitional are the same as iron bodied planes, but the cap iron has the adjustment hole up higher. If you have a frog, but no iron assembly, you can modify the cap iron from an iron plane by making a second adjustment hole. You’ll know the extra hole is there, but it’ll be covered by the lever cap when in use.

Any width or brand of iron & frog can work for this build, as long as it uses a screw for the lever cap to provide tension. (There are some out there that have a cross pin and screw cap. That style will not work for this kind of build.) On the first two planes, one had a 2-3/8 Stanley and the other a 2-1/4 Sargent. This build is being done with a 2in wide set from a Union.

Next part needed will be the infill wood. For this build, I’m using a piece of jatoba. The blank needs to start out at least 1-1/2 inches wider than the iron (so 3-1/2 wide for a 2inch iron, 4 inches wide for a 2-3/8 iron) by 1-3/4 thick and a bit longer than the finished piece. This plane will end up about 15 inches long, so I’ll start with a rough blank that is at least 18 inches. If you want a fancier look, or just don’t have a big enough single piece, feel free to do a laminated blank. Both of the original planes were laminated blanks. The stiffer and heavier the wood, the better off you will be in the end, but any stable hardwood will work.

Next, there are the fasteners. The list for this build is:

Qty 5 – 10-24×1/2 steel phillips flat head machine screws
Qty 5 – 10-24×1/2 solid brass slotted flat head machine screws
Qty 5 – #10×1-1/2 steel phillips flat head wood screws
Qty 5 – #10×1-1/2 solid brass slotted flat head wood screws
Qty 10 – #8×1 steel phillips flat head wood screws
Qty 10 – #8×1 solid brass slotted flat head wood screws
Qty 2 – #10×1-1/4 slotted round head wood screws (these are for attaching the frog. If you can salvage the screws from the donor transitional, that is probably best, otherwise you’ll need to get others)

You’ll quickly notice the duplicates in different materials. That is because you want solid brass for the final assembly, but do not want to use the softer metal when doing preliminary work—that is what the steel fasteners are for. Also, make sure to get slotted solid brass, not just brass plated, for the final assembly work. The heads will be ground off and brass plated would look silly. Additionally, the slotted heads are not cut as deep as a phillips. If you try to use brass phillips screws, it’s not possible to grind them all the way down to get rid off the dimple.

For the metal, I used precision ground O1 steel. The precision ground costs a bit more than basic flat stock, but is totally worth the extra cost for the time savings and more accurate product. I purchased from Enco, but there are other sellers out there if you prefer to use them.

The base is 3/8 thick by 2 inches wide. The side plate is 1/8 thick and needs to be ~1/2 inch wider than the iron and frog. So for this build, 2-1/2 inches. If using a 2-3/8 set, you’ll want 3 inch wide steel. The steel comes in 18in long pieces, so just about the right size. If you are going to build additional planes, buying the 36in long pieces will save quite a bit.

Do yourself a favor and when ordering the metal, order the taps you’ll need for the machine screws and a tap extractor, as well. The taps carried by the industrial suppliers are far better quality than those you can find at your local big box or hardware store. The tap extractor will quickly pay for itself when (not if) you break off a tap. Doesn’t seem to matter how careful you are, a tap will break at the worst possible time. I like to start with a plug tap and finish off with a bottoming tap.


If you absolutely do not want to do the metal work, because of fear, lack of tools or time, a perfectly usable all wood shooting plane can be built with the same form and ideas by following the first part of the blog and gluing on a wooden base plate in place of the 3/8 steel. You’d want to use a very strong and hard wood (lignum vitae would be ideal, but there are other species that would work well, too) and would lose the advantages the steel brings, such as added mass and wear resistance (end grain is murderously hard on wooden soles) but would cut construction time down to just a few hours and still have a good tool for occasional use.

OK, if you’ve made it this far without falling asleep, then congrats, you’re well on your way to building one of these:

Oh, yeah. I’ve got a Sketchup file that shows the basic construction. If you are interested in a copy, drop me a PM.

Next installment: Shooting off your mouth

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

8 comments so far

View WhoMe's profile


1441 posts in 2660 days

#1 posted 07-19-2016 03:49 AM

Seeing your previous posts made me want to make one. I had bookmarked this before I even read the first paragraph….

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View rodk1's profile


11 posts in 2575 days

#2 posted 07-19-2016 06:26 AM

I agree with “WhoMe”, I favored it before I read it also.

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

3226 posts in 1651 days

#3 posted 07-19-2016 02:26 PM

So did I! I don’t know when I can actually do this, but it’s definitely on the bucket list!
Thank you for doing this!


-- Dan Krager, Olney IL There are three types of people...those who are good at math and those who aren't.

View duckmilk's profile


1581 posts in 742 days

#4 posted 07-19-2016 03:40 PM

Wow, I am so looking forward to this. Thanks Jay.
I need to get my shop finished so I can actually start making things, like a real bench and this.

-- "Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

View ki7hy's profile


428 posts in 156 days

#5 posted 07-19-2016 07:13 PM

Thanks JayT.

View waho6o9's profile


7114 posts in 1994 days

#6 posted 07-21-2016 04:34 AM

Much appreciated JayT, thanks

View ToddJB's profile


6769 posts in 1547 days

#7 posted 07-22-2016 02:10 AM

Just getting to this. I’m pumped. Do you have a customer we that is prompting this build?

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View JayT's profile (online now)


4670 posts in 1628 days

#8 posted 07-22-2016 01:00 PM

No, Todd, no customer. I’m obviously not a good entrepreneur, giving out my build secrets to anyone with a computer instead of charging them to build a plane. :-) Maybe I should figure out a way to charge to read the blog, like some of the woodworking magazines do.

This one will most likely get gifted. I was going to order steel anyways to do an infill smoother, so just decided to order longer pieces and blog a shooter build, since enough people asked.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics