Reply by Mark Kornell

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Posted on Advice on making wooden planes

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Mark Kornell

1169 posts in 2498 days

#1 posted 12-05-2012 08:05 AM

Making and Mastering Wooden Planes by David Finck is a pretty thorough guide with step-by-step instructions. And, if you prefer to do your own thinking, Krenov had a brief presentation of the process in one of his books. Google is your friend, too – I’ve seen a number of sites describing very similar methods.

That is assuming you want to go with the “sandwich” construction method. If you’re looking to go the more traditional method – chopping a cavity out of a solid block and shaping the bed with a float – advise is harder to come by. I like “Wooden Planes and How to Make Them” by Perch and Lee. That book isn’t step by step, but covers a much wider variety of topics than Finck’s book.

Reference material aside, the first thing you need to start with is the iron. Wooden planes get built around a specific iron, so pick that before you begin construction. The Hock irons are great if you want a chipbreaker, and if you don’t, Lee Valley make some nice thick irons for that purpose. I’ve built planes with both, doesn’t seem to make a difference in performance, so it comes down to style.

There’s no reason you can’t use the same iron in different planes, you just need to switch the iron from plane to plane. Given that you should be able to make a plane in less that a day’s work (not counting time for glue to dry), make both a jack and jointer.

My recommendation would be to start with 2 irons. A 1 3/8” or 1 1/2” and build a couple of block planes and a small (narrow) smoother. Also get a 1 3/4” or 1 7/8” and build a jack and jointer and maybe a wide smoother. In no particular order, but you will get hooked and probably want to make a half dozen more…

While a 4-foot jointer would be awe-inspiring, and I won’t discourage you from tackling that, I will suggest that you’d get more use out of something along a more traditional size. Blocks are handy – I’ve always got at least one hanging around – and a jack is pretty versatile…

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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