Firewood Plane #1: Alternative Plane Blanks

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Blog entry by tr33surg3on posted 10-26-2011 06:01 AM 1258 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Firewood Plane series Part 2: Not so alternative plane blanks »

It seems I had nothing better to do tonight, because I ended up splitting a plane blank out of a piece of firewood and planing the four faces down.

Partially it was to see if I could do it. Partially it was to try out a beater Stanley #5 I picked up a few weeks ago without having to go through the trouble of actually lapping, sharpening or otherwise tuning it properly. And partially I realized the turning blanks I picked up from the Rockler scrap bin are probably just a bit too small to make the Krenov-style plane I was planning to make (I have a 1-3/4” blade and the blank’s just shy of 2-1/2”)

It actually wasn’t that bad. I managed to pick a piece with not too much twist and only one tiny knot that didn’t give me any trouble. I split it with a camp axe and a mallet to roughly 3×3x12 (rough guess). It planed down without too much trouble.

Then I realized I have two problems (at least!). The first is that I’m pretty impatient, so I had hoped to start on the plane-making proper in a few days. According to David Finck’s book, though, I should let this blank continue to dry for a month or so. The second is I’m not actually sure what kind of wood it is. I had assumed that firewood is ash, but now that I looked into it, it seems it could be just about anything. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask anyone to try to identify it from the photos.

-- Tim -- Tools to make tools to's tools all the way down.

3 comments so far

View steviep's profile


233 posts in 2673 days

#1 posted 10-26-2011 06:27 PM

Cool work Tim.

Last few weeks I have been tuning hand-planes and last night I tried to flatten an old endgrain cutting board by hand. Gave up after a while.

how did you square the sides to each other, they look pretty close?

-- StevieP ~ Micheal Tompkins - you were not here on earth long but left a giant mark on us. RIP Brother

View tr33surg3on's profile


21 posts in 2451 days

#2 posted 10-26-2011 06:27 PM

Upon further research, including a side-by-side comparison with some pallet lumber that never got made into pallets, I’m almost certain it’s lodgepole pine. Not suitable for a plane blank, so it’s going into the “small bookshelf” pile. Might also have a bright future as a box, a bending form or some sanding blocks. They say it also makes really great firewood.

-- Tim -- Tools to make tools to's tools all the way down.

View tr33surg3on's profile


21 posts in 2451 days

#3 posted 10-26-2011 10:00 PM

Thanks Stevie. The sides aren’t actually squared up all that well. The camera was very kind. I’ll probably lose half an inch or more doing it, but I also have a Stanley #7 that needs some TLC, so I might use this as a test case. A lot of the squaring up came from choosing a piece with fairly straight grain and splitting with the grain. I’ve also been practicing with the bench planes and I’m getting better at just keeping the plane flat by feel. Where there was more twist than the plane could handle, I just did a few angled swipes across the board to take off the obvious high points. I think everything was much easier because it’s such a soft wood. You’ll notice I didn’t even try the end grain.

As far as planing the cutting board, good luck! My understanding is you need a very sharp low angle plane to have a chance at doing that well. My best accomplishment with end grain is I got some tiny actual shavings off the end grain of the cherry knife handles using a Stanley block plane (which actually is fairly well tuned up).

-- Tim -- Tools to make tools to's tools all the way down.

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