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A Handled Wooden Bench Plane

I learned a lot from building my first plane - a more traditionally made coffin smoother - and wanted to continue that education.  That plane was merely a prototype... made specifically to see what it takes to make one.  Now, it's time to try the real thing.  A word of warning - I'm going to be documenting (read - writing mind-boggling amounts of B.S. about) this plane pretty extensively - so this project will take up several pages.  If  that scares you (and it should...) then turn away now.  The rest of us will wait until you leave the room to continue...
As always - text presented in this format came later, with hindsight - or through other's prodding.  Usually, I'm pointing something out that I either missed, should have done differently (or want to on the next), or just want to make the reader aware of something.  I  may add more comments such as this later, when I've had more time to reflect on the project.
A lot of this stuff was covered in the other thing I did on the coffin smoother (and some that isn't in this one).  If you're really interested, you could read that one as a precursor to this one, but I'll try not to make this one too painful if you haven't.  If you have, my apologies.  It is, unfortunately, about 10 pages of rambling, so you have been warned!
Starting Out - Great Granddad's Plane

Here is the original inspiration for making a wooden plane, my great grandfather's plane - one of only two tools I have of his (the other being another plane - a wooden jointer missing the iron and wedge).  Salvaged from a fallen down barn, it's in pretty rough shape:

It was manufactured by the Auburn Tool Company - and I would date it from between 1885 and 1935.  That's as close as I can get, with what information I have on him - the years he was working back in North Dakota.  I know he was working up to  the mid-thirties, because Dad remember him using a power saw for the very first and last time in his life.  A circular saw powered off of a tractor to make cuts for rafters on a barn.

Designing the New Plane

 Since the iron is coming from an existing plane - it makes a bit of sense that I can use that plane for some of the dimensions of the mortise, and width of the plane.  I'm going to be diverging quite a bit from the design of the original, though I can still use the measurements for the throat.  The plane I have in mind will be laminated from several pieces - with a purpleheart "core" sandwiched on the outside by beech, with a beech tote set into a razee style heel.

This will accomplish a couple of things, hopefully.  First,  I won't have to find any thick wood (which is difficult at best, and expensive) - I can just use glued up 4/4 stock.  Second - I won't have to chop out all of the wood for the mortise - just cut it on the chop saw and glue it in between pieces of beech.  And third - it should present an opportunity for introducing a little bit of style.  We'll have to see on that, though.

The wood for great granddad's plane is a square chunk of beech, about 2-7/8" square, and the iron is 2-1/4" wide.  The final width  of the plane I'm making will be the same as the original, as it is determined by the width of the iron.  I won't be working to finished height at first, for reasons that will become clear when I get to them, so the initial height of the plane will  remain at 2-7/8" for now.  The final height of the plane will be 2-1/2", when I do get there.

 The width of the center piece of purple heart is going to be 1-3/4" - determined by the widthe between the shoulders that hold the wedge in place, as seen below:

This basically means all the cutting I'll be doing will be done in the beech sides.

The Design of the Throat

Before we get too deep into this discussion - Let's see just what it is that we are going to do, first by getting a good look at the original:

To help clear that up just a bit - here's the cutaway model I did for the previous plane, and I've added the names of the parts of the plane I'm going to be working on to help clarify what I'm talking about.

When referring to the throat, it is essentially referring to the opening itself - the terms above are referring to the adjacent surfaces within the mortised opening (throat).  The "toe" of the plane is the front of the plane, and the "heel" is the back.  

The basic shape of the throat is exactly the same as the first smoother, only the width (because the blade is wider) will change - and the angles will remain the same as with the last plane.  This is the classic throat design for a bench plane, using a "York" pitch of 50 degrees for the bed.  Other options include a Common Pitch (45 degrees) which is more suitable for softwoods, Cabinet or Half Pitch (60 degrees) which is generally only found on molding planes, and Middle Pitch (55 degrees) which is suited for curly or troublesome woods.

On that plane, it was essentially one block of wood, and I chopped the throat of the plane out with chisels - a pretty traditional approach for planes of the nineteenth century.  I thought that taking advantage of modern day glues and see if I could use a laminating process to my advantage, hopefully saving a bit of labor.



I am Thirugnanam from Chennai,India. my hobby is in various Titles. I want to do some wood work in my home.

I gone through your article on the hand wood plane.You have given wide and step by step information.
Thank you.