Small hand planes making #1: The making of 11 small hand planes

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Blog entry by mafe posted 04-11-2015 01:41 PM 3769 reads 10 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Small hand planes
the making of 11 small hand planes.

This blog is a mess… Now it’s said, I usually try making my blogs in a fair order and to make it easy to understand, this one jumps from one plane to the other, one process to the other and even the pictures are so different of quality, that this must be the big mess Mads blog… When this is said, I still think it can be relevant and perhaps even to some inspiration, since it gives a picture of the methods I use and different approaches to the same tasks I use, from the beginning to the end of the processes, from a piece of wood and a piece of iron to a full functioning hand plane.

I will like to dedicate this blog to a old LJ friend DIV , you are missed here on LJ, but will not be forgotten, often in my thoughts and a special place in my heart, hope you are fine out there.

Here are two beautiful planes DIV made and send me as a present years back, I use them often and feel lucky.
Also they gave me the inspiration to try my self and the courage to believe I could, thank you DIV.
Next to them are the smallest of the bunch I just made, a violinmakers hollowing plane.

I did not need a bunch of small planes, made them for pleasure and have no doubt they will become small friends I will reach for in the future when I work in the shop.
Building a bunch like this, also gave me the routine now, so if I should need a special plane in the future I will just make it, it is now a skill, not a challenge, in a way this sums up my woodworking journey, being able to do what I want to purely from joy, share it with others and that makes me smile big time, especially knowing it is appreciated and this you all make me feel it is, thanks.

So we start with some iron.
Since I don’t have a forge yet, I need some tool that are hardened and old plane irons are a wonderful source.
Here I cut out a piece with a shaft tool.

Some samples of what will be used.
Two old plane irons, chisel cut in half, a piece of a old file that have been re forged at some point, cut out from plane iron, two old plane irons.

Some hardwood.
Don’t even know half the names.

First establish a cutting edge, in this way its possible to find the right dimensions for the plane body and mouth.

Using the water grinder is relatively quick and prevents that the edge becomes too hot, so the tempering will be damaged.

Setting the saw to the blade with and cutting up wood.
I cut it all on the table saw this time, some will prefer the band saw, since it takes thinner cuts, but it also need more cleanup.

Slowly working my way through the pile.

Iron and plane body are now matched.
One more came later.

For ease and speed I modify my table saw sled.
Put little fences in the right angles.

These two are the once I will use here.
60 for mouth and 45 degrees for the iron bedding.

Just cut.

And cut again…

Tadaaaa we got the body parts.
That’s easy isn’t it?

Now some glue.
I hold the iron in place and make the mouth too small, in this way I have some extra I can tune away later.

We can never have too many clamps they say.
I call this chaos.

This is more for the eye. ;-)

Some progress in the project box.

Now another fence added to the sled, this time for the wedges, I read in Finck’s wonderful plane making book, that a 2-1/4 should be a good angle, but I do prefer them lower, so I end up moving the fence.

The 2-1/4 in place.

But you can see I have moved the fence now.
This is what is so wonderful about wood working, playing and finding our own preferences.

Iron, sharpen, body, wedge and even a brass pin now.
That’s almost a plane.

A jump in time.
Here the little double convex violin maker plane are being shaped on my disc sander.
I work by heart, just stop when it feels right.
This is for roughing so the mouth are not important, but I try to keep it fair.

Then the body are sanded with grid 120 – 1200, this to make the sole glide easy, not for beauty.

You see.
Also oil and wax will make it even better.

Here we have the first of the family 4 centimeters plane in my hand.
Kind of fun to have made such a little fellow, a luthier plane it’s also called.
Might come in handy some day.
Unless I sneeze so it fly away…

Compared to a no. 4.

Time to enjoy it!
With a whiskey, tobacco and measuring it with some beautiful antique boxwood tools I got at a marked.

Back to the saw.
Cutting of the ends and I even trim the sides, top and sole down a little, like this I know the plane is square.

Shaping, while thinking of Krenov and DIV.

Spinning that new sander.
Thought it was a useless tool, but love it, my arms are happy for this new shop helper.

Here we are.
I must admit I really like it.

A good tight mouth.

Here for size next to a 60,5 block plane.

And in my hand.
(I did say I really like it).

Back to reality.
I glue a small palm handle to the end of the half chisel.
This to experiment.

A body in need of a iron.

Looking into the box shows that things do happen.
Also two experiments, using chisels for irons.

The markings on one of the iron shows it a Peugeot, always fun to get these details.

For the record.

Trying to make a NOT MaFe shaped wedge.

So here we have it the small chisel palm pushed hand plane…
Works like sh.. when you push the plane it wants to move in the bed, so no matter how much I tighten the wedge, it will not stay…
Idea – terminated.
Nice try MaFe.
Learning by doing.
The chisel will go to my printing woodblock / lino cutting tools, nothing wasted.

Trying to do some not MaFe carving…
Project terminated!

Yes this is more me!

But now the mouth is much too wide, so I decide to glue on a hardwood sole.

While the glue is drying, I will take a brake and enjoy spring has arrived in Copenhagen, the blog will continue soon.

Hope it can be to some inspiration perhaps even some small planes.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

23 comments so far

View kiefer's profile


4873 posts in 2091 days

#1 posted 04-11-2015 01:59 PM

Keep posting Mads
I am getting inspired and have ordered some irons and now that I see you using an old chisel I may give that a try also .
Take a break and get outside and enjoy the long awaited spring .


-- Kiefer

View ruddhess's profile


117 posts in 634 days

#2 posted 04-11-2015 02:12 PM

Awesome post! Great photos. Definitely inspiration. Nice touch with the whisky & pipe photo too. A reflection of the enjoyments in life – simple pleasures of relaxation & woodworking. Your planes are very fine!

-- Rodney, Arkansas

View madts's profile


1663 posts in 1763 days

#3 posted 04-11-2015 02:16 PM

Nice going Mads. Aren’t mistakes wonderful. You can learn so much from them, and if you pay attention, you only do them once. On the other hand it can take years to perfect something.
Keep those planes coming. But also go outside and enjoy the spring. I miss that time of year so much. Here in Houston, spring only last a week or so, if you are lucky.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16820 posts in 2529 days

#4 posted 04-11-2015 02:59 PM

Very fine job of making those planes. We should have a contest to see who can make the smallest working plane! That little one is so cute!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View canadianchips's profile


2310 posts in 2421 days

#5 posted 04-11-2015 03:04 PM

Great little planes.
I use old chisel for irons. The one I used in a chute plane, later I found out my chute plane was used for book bindings ?
Picture no. 7. Something looks fishy about the push stick.
I enjoyed your blog. Thanks

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View tyvekboy's profile


1311 posts in 2437 days

#6 posted 04-11-2015 03:20 PM

Good tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View shipwright's profile


7095 posts in 2222 days

#7 posted 04-11-2015 03:30 PM

Sweet time in the shop Mads. Everyone should make planes, even if they don’t use them.

For you.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Dutchy's profile


1976 posts in 1592 days

#8 posted 04-11-2015 03:38 PM

Mafe I,m not in the mood for making my own planes but I like reading and watching your blog.

Thanks for sharing.

-- My englisch is bad but how is your dutch?

View Sodabowski's profile


2308 posts in 2257 days

#9 posted 04-11-2015 05:02 PM

I’m loving those hand planes you’re building Mads. Plus I’ve really grown into making my own, too. Since I really sharpened to mirror-finish my 2€ crap block plane from the big box shop and found out how efficient a properly sharpened BLADE can be, I really want the tool around it to be good-looking and made of wood. So these posts from you go a long way in my book as for inspiration. Thanks for sharing :)

BTW Nice flying hand plane Paul ;)

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View lew's profile


11266 posts in 3179 days

#10 posted 04-11-2015 06:21 PM


Love the little palm push plane with the NOT Mafe wedge!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

917 posts in 1736 days

#11 posted 04-11-2015 06:43 PM

Thanks. A great post and very informative.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View Philip's profile


1275 posts in 1963 days

#12 posted 04-11-2015 06:47 PM

Great planes Mads. When I read your blog I laugh thinking about woodworkers talking about planes saying “these are not made anymore…”

-- I never finish anyth

View Sodabowski's profile


2308 posts in 2257 days

#13 posted 04-11-2015 07:28 PM

Exactly Philip, it’s ridiculous.

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View Don W's profile

Don W

17882 posts in 1991 days

#14 posted 04-11-2015 08:38 PM

View doubleDD's profile


5073 posts in 1467 days

#15 posted 04-12-2015 12:08 AM

This is some serious down to business plane work. Nothing plain about it. I’m with Klaus, I have to try this.
Sweet work Mads.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

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