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A Roman Plane

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Blog entry by YorkshireStewart posted 10-11-2007 10:51 PM 4933 reads 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just wanted to share this lovely Roman Plane with interested Lumberjocks & suddenly I’m confronted with BLOGs, scripted windows & HTMLs and other stuff that the Romans would never have dreamed of. I certainly don’t know what I’m doing but I’ll give it a go.

This unique Roman woodworking plane (known as The Goodmanham Roman Plane) with a stock made of ivory was found near the village of Goodmanham, East Yorkshire, England in the summer of 2000, during the excavation of a pipeline for BP Chemicals. It dates to the 4th Century AD. Length is 13” / 330mm. One of my intentions is, when time permits, to produce a replica (of course, ivory is out!) in maybe boxwood or beech. Although I believe mock ivory is available but I’m uncertain of its workability. It would be my first attempt at a plane. Is it too ambitious, having a steel/iron soleplate? I’m really keen to find out how it would have handled & functioned. The local museum that displays it would be interested too.

Addendum – Here is the blog showing construction of the plane that I finished in May 2008, and here the finished project.

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business. http://www.folksy.com/shops/TreeGems



14 comments so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4438 posts in 2716 days


#1 posted 10-11-2007 11:06 PM

Go for it!! You’ll find that you have plenty of the right skills. Use a cutting torch to bend the ends of the sole and a way you go. The rest is the same as a Kernov plane. I’ll bet the pitch is 50 degrees though, you know, “York ” pitch??? I’ll bet Phil Edwards could help on this one. If you are thinking of Ivory Micarta, it would work very well.
Tom

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View YorkshireStewart's profile

YorkshireStewart

1117 posts in 2655 days


#2 posted 10-11-2007 11:19 PM

Thanks for your confidence in me Tom. The pitch is quite steep at 65 +/-1deg despite being found a few miles from York! I’m lucky in having a copy of the archaeologist’s report and drawings.
Regards, Stewart

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business. http://www.folksy.com/shops/TreeGems

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12302 posts in 2851 days


#3 posted 10-11-2007 11:52 PM

Good Luck Stewart. I would look up Phil as Tom suggested. He would make a good technical consultant.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View mot's profile

mot

4911 posts in 2790 days


#4 posted 10-11-2007 11:58 PM

That’s a pretty cool plane!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12302 posts in 2851 days


#5 posted 10-12-2007 12:01 AM

Would be a little beyond my ability to restore I belive…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View furnitologist's profile

furnitologist

198 posts in 2767 days


#6 posted 10-12-2007 01:29 AM

Hey Stewart…........that’s really neet!!!! I wonder if you could substitute a solid surface material (corian, etc) in the place of the ivory.

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 2840 days


#7 posted 10-12-2007 04:12 AM

Very cool… It will be very interesting to see the finished plane.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker http://www.capecodbaychallenge.org

View Philip Edwards's profile

Philip Edwards

244 posts in 3193 days


#8 posted 10-12-2007 09:01 AM

Stewart
What a fantastic plane – just goes to show how long the “plane” has been in existence and how important a tool it is to woodworkers.
Here’s an interesting link for you – Chris Schwarz (Editor of Popular Woodworking) recently made a plane based on this.
If you need any advice making your own just ask.
Best regards
Phil

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3971 posts in 2818 days


#9 posted 10-12-2007 11:52 AM

Great link Phil, and nice share Stewart. No wonder that the woodworking journals just recycle major topics year after year. We Lumberjocks have been doing this work for centuries…

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View johnjoiner's profile

johnjoiner

160 posts in 2647 days


#10 posted 10-12-2007 06:44 PM

To follow Philip’s link, here’s a later post by Christopher Schwarz where he has completed the plane:
Roman plane completed

-- johnjoiner

View YorkshireStewart's profile

YorkshireStewart

1117 posts in 2655 days


#11 posted 10-12-2007 09:54 PM

Thanks very much indeed for the offer of help Phil. I’ll call on you. I ‘visit the plane’ in its humidity controlled showcase, whenever we’re in Beverley and always get a kick out of the realisation that the tool has not really changed in two millennia. Thanks, too, for the links to Christopher Schwarz’s work Phil and johnjoiner. That plane is so close to this one.

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business. http://www.folksy.com/shops/TreeGems

View Dadoo's profile

Dadoo

1777 posts in 2744 days


#12 posted 10-12-2007 10:22 PM

Neat! I wonder what it is worth today. Hey, if you do make one, try and copy what you have there. I mean that, anyone can make a plane out of a block of wood. And anyone can copy the Roman style. This one was ivory? Don’t they have something else like that on the market? Like Corian (as already suggested) or Alabaster? The original wasn’t made of any wood. I just thought of a new forum question.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View YorkshireStewart's profile

YorkshireStewart

1117 posts in 2655 days


#13 posted 10-12-2007 11:57 PM

You’ve sparked me off to do an eBay search and ’faux ivory’ does bring up a supplier. The site tells us This Polyurethane is easily turned on a lathe, it can be drilled, tapped and threaded. It is useful for Jewelry making, Scrimshaw, Custom Inlay, Pen Blanks, Reel Seats, Custom Knobs, It has the look and feel of real BONE, not plastic. It’s located in Cochise, AZ, USA but I’ll bet there are others. Maybe similar to Ivory Micarta that Thomas mentioned. Nevertheless, I’ll be happier doing a dummy run in treewood.

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business. http://www.folksy.com/shops/TreeGems

View Philip Edwards's profile

Philip Edwards

244 posts in 3193 days


#14 posted 10-13-2007 09:03 PM

No problem, Stewart!
Looking forward to seeing your plane take shape,
Phil

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