When I watch videos of other woodworkers online, it seems like they have complete control over their hand planes, being able to make detailed adjustments and be able to shave off the thinnest of thin shavings from their projects. I have always struggled with my $15 Home Depot special, even with hours spent flattening the sole, sharpening and readjusting the blade, etc… After having built one too many out-of-square projects, I knew it was time to reconsider what I was using for a hand plane.
Before deciding to build a plane, I first looked into buying a used older model Stanley on eBay. It seems there used to be a lot of these planes available to buy online at a good price, but it’s definitely not as easy to get a good deal on a used one anymore. In addition to looking online, I continually search garage sales for quality tools. Although I’ve found some great deals on rasps, drill presses, clamps, and more, a quality hand plane has always eluded me.
Once buying a used hand plane was out of the question, I looked into buying a new high quality plane, however as soon as I saw the prices I quickly determined that spending $200+ dollars was out of my budget.
With old planes and new planes being out of the question, I decided to go the DIY route. In my research, I discovered Scott Meek and admired his beautifully built wooden hand planes. After learning that Scott put out a Make a Wooden Smoothing Plane Video, I was sold and purchased his video to begin my plane making adventures. The video did not disappoint; at 2.5 hours long, Scott offers plenty of easy to understand instruction and many expert hints that could only come from someone who has probably built hundreds (thousands?) of wooden hand planes. If you are interested in building a hand plane yourself, this video is well worth its $7.50 price.
I decided to build my plane out of some oak boards. After cutting them down to size, I glued them together to get what would be the inner part of my plane body.
After the glue dried, I planed the bottom of the block smooth and made sure it was completely square with the sides (fortunately, I have a nice hand me down block plane).
Next, I marked out the spots where the blade would sit and where the shavings would collect in and made those cuts. When I started this project, I hadn’t found my garage sale band saw yet, so cutting and shaping was very manual.
Then I sanded out the curve using the rounded end of my belt sander.
After the pieces were cut, I needed to plane the wood flat that the cap iron would rest on, and then chisel out a hole to accomodate the cap iron screw. The blade and cap iron combo I am using is from Hock Tools.
After cleaning up the walls, it was time to add some additional oak pieces as sides and dry fit the whole assembly.
I drilled some screws in to make adjustments and assembly easier.
The next step was to make the cross bar that would keep the wedge and blade in case. I used a plug cutting bit on my drill press to round the ends and then chisels and sand paper to round the three sides of the body (the fourth side remains flat to rest against the wedge). This was also when I drilled holes in the plane sides to accept the new cross bar piece.
With all of the main pieces done, it was time to assemble and glue up.
While the glue dried on the main plane body, I started working on the body. By this point, I had bought a bandsaw at a garage sale, making the follwing steps significantly easier. I traced a rough wedge shape onto a spare piece of oak, then went to work cutting it out and sanding it.
The next day once the glue had dried, I planed the bottom of plane flat and chamfered the edges to reduce resistance.
Once that was done, it was time to trace the template I received with my plane video purchase, and then cut out the shape on the bandsaw.
All that was left to do was some final shaping and sanding, and the plane was done being built.
After applying some Danish oil, the plane was beautiful and ready to be used. Hopefully this will increase the quality of all of my future projects!
Originally published at bertwagner.com on June 23, 2014.