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So… Why Build Your Own Wooden Plane?
When you can get a smashing Stanley No 5 for about thirty five quid, why hassle yourself making a wooden plane?
The thing is, No 4s are naff.
And metal jointers get expensive (for the good ones). And they often will need a fair bit of awkward work to make serviceable.
Anything else? Well unless your willing to spend, it’s easier to just make one.
And if it’s not about the money, then perhaps you simply like the idea of working with your own handiwork.
There’s lots of people who want to get into wooden planes, but they’re often faced with one big problem.
New ones cost a bomb (unless you go for an ECE).
So rather than spending, you could be sensible, and get that old thing that’s been laying around your workshop for the last decade going again.
Or get a cheap Ebay special.
Then you’ll spend a weekend in restoration mode, give it a go…
…and come to the conclusion that wooden planes aren’t the tool for you.
The thing’s too much of a pig to set up. “I’m glad I didn’t spent a bomb on a new one.”
I say this a lot, but I’ll say it again.
The vast majority of wooden planes out there, I would not be able to set.
Restoring a wooden plane takes almost as much skill as making one in the first place.
And I regard traditional plane making as a top end skill. It’s an art.
All the traditional woodies that are in service in my workshop have been given to me, mostly from my Grandad when I was a very young man.
They were never out of service. My old tools are not restored.
Learning to set a wooden plane that’s out of shape isn’t going to work. It’s not you, it’s the tool.
So whether you’re looking to build because you’re in need of a serviceable tool, or just seeking the thrill or using one you’ve built yourself, our Plane Build Mini Series covers the build from start to finish, and also has an additional video to talk you through the steps for setting your new tool to put it in action.
The Design Of Our Wooden Plane
I designed this plane to get people over the frustration of wooden planes.
I want people to succeed.
That meant going for the laminated construction with the cross pin.
This is often frowned upon compared with the traditional abutment style. But I promise, as a life long wooden plane user, they’re only looked down on because they’re easier to make.
Building in this style with the right methods will make this build fairly fool proof.
Far, far easier than restoring an old thing.
The critical areas are easy to get right, and that’s what’s going to get you a good setting plane.
Keeping It Traditional
The wheel is good at its job, so leave it alone.
I’ve had a slight dislike to laminated planes in the past. The reason was the fact that everyone tried to get clever.
They’ve got racing stripes… Weird carved out glove handles.
They all just look unfunctional.
The reason the wooden hand plane looks like it does, is because that’s what’s best.
Not for looks but for function.
You can hold it with multiple grips, it’s well balanced and hardwearing, and carries enough weight to give itself a bit of momentum.
It also soaks up vibrations beautifully.
Making a plane look nice takes far longer than making a plane work.
The original ‘One Hour Rough As Chuff Special’ works just as well as the fancy thing we’re making in the build video.
My recommendation is to make your first plane rough and fast.
Follow the instructions and focus on the critical areas to get a feel for how the whole thing works.
Once you’re happy, fill your boots and make your posh one.
I promise you’ll make more than one.
Being able to make a plane of any size, or for any purpose, and know it will work, is a very nice feeling.
Ever wanted a low angle shooting plane?
Give yourself a few hours and now you’ll have one.
I hope that after this you’ll give wooden planes a shot.
In fact I’m certain you will.
Want to Build a Wooden Plane?
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Even I could do it!
(And there’s no credit card details or anything like that.)
Tomorrow, I will dive into the sofa, and enjoy this little gem!
Martin Jäger says
Thank you a lot, still have done hock blades.
George Lough says
Older I get the less power I want. More and more hand tools. Planes not routers.
Absolutely agree, much more satisfying using a woody.
Good to see you back Richard!
Ah yes ! About chuffin time Richard, looks well worth the wait mind. Really looking forward to smashing one of these out, I love a good wooden plane. Well done mate.
Ken Haygarth says
Great job Richard and Hellen, thanks guys. 😉
Neil Christie says
On good form Richard.
If you or Helen could design a device to prevent pencils and tapes from vanishing into thin air, I would buy the video !
Liked your comment about the naffness of no4s. I started out with one and couldn’t plane worth a light with it. The big toe on the 5 makes all the difference.
Flabbergasted at how easy you make things look you are a joy to watch and you both should be very proud to make these videos and inspiring all sorts of people to try for themselves many thanks James D
Duane Peterson says
I’ve been waiting for this video for awhile. I’ve got a nice 2 inch thick teak plank that I think I’ll use when I get the chance to try out making a jack plane. Looking forward to it.
Bill R. says
Richard, great video, thank you! One question, during the glue up of the body you use yellow or white glue and when gluing up the wood pin and handle you use hide glue. Would hide glue alos work fo the body glue up?
Walter Ambrosch says
In my wood plane builds I have begun adding a wear bevel to the breast angle so that as the sole wears, the mouth does not open up rapidly.
What are your thoughts on this?
So glad you are back doing the blog and the videos.
The Plane Build instructional video is EXCELLENT! I built mine in 4 pieces. It’s very important to have the blade and wedge in the exact position so that one can scribe an accurate line to locate and drill the wood pin hole. Before assembly, I lay all of the components (rear and front blade beds, blade, and wedge) in their final locations and marked them accordingly on one of the side halves then locate the dowel hole with a circle template. Then I place the 2 halves together to drill the hole only once. When glueing, I prefer to glue the components onto the marked side, let set, and then glue the remaining side to ensure symmetry. This also allows adjustment should glue cause slip when clamping.