A view of the vendor hall — I’m somewhere off to the right and behind with a new 16-3/8″ viola.
Here’s violist Elias Goldstein giving it a try in Warner Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory.
A view of the vendor hall — I’m somewhere off to the right and behind with a new 16-3/8″ viola.
Here’s violist Elias Goldstein giving it a try in Warner Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory.
The last guitar I built was recently made for a terrific young man and musician who is off pursuing a masters degree in classical guitar performance at Yale. My previous classicals have been quite traditional. This one was something new for me, incorporating many elements found in contemporary classical guitars: elevated neck, soundport, carbon-fiber neck reinforcement and ultra-stiff laminated sides. That guitar was so successful I built another like it. I again used Englemann spruce for the top (thanks to my friend Link for choosing some great wood!), but I changed the back and sides to Macassar ebony. Success — a powerful, attractive guitar appropriate for the performer or advanced student.
A group of experienced guitarists had a chance to review it recently (including a former concert artist and GFA prize winner). Some of the comments:
This guitar is for sale: $6,000
After five years of exclusively making violins and violas it took a request from a fine young guitarist to coax me out of guitar building retirement, and I am glad he did — it was an invigorating project. In contrast to my previous work, which was quite traditional, this guitar features several modern innovations: elevated fingerboard, dual carbon fiber rod reinforced neck, a sound port and laminated sides. I also redesigned the neck block for a light and very stiff connection of the neck to the body, while simultaneously allowing the upper bout of the guitar more freedom to resonate.
Win one for modernism. I am pleased with the tonal presence of this instrument: crystalline clarity, singing trebles, distinct, lush basses, and plenty of volume. It appears that this instrument will be accompanying its new owner to the Yale School of Music graduate program in guitar performance.
I receive some nice emails from people who have read my book, “Making and Mastering Wood Planes”, viewed the DVD video version, or did both. I really enjoy hearing from people who have found the information useful in their own woodworking journeys. Frequently there are photos too. As encouragement to those of you who need a little push in the handtool/handplane direction it occurred to me that I ought to share these comments/photos. I hope they inspire you to give plane making a try so you too can discover just how satisfying it is to make and use a hand plane you made yourself!
Thanks for the encouragement. Here is a picture of my first one I just completed. 5 3/4″ long in oak with 50 bed angle, meant for general purpose use. It will not win any beauty competitions, but boy does it plane well! Contrary to your advice I shaped it right away 🙂 Focusing [on] the bed, cross pin and wedge (that has a slight radius beneath the pin, not visible) [paid] out in good performance. No need for chip breaker.
I want to thank you very much for writing an excellent book. Not only did I learn how to make a plane which performs excellently but also how to produce woodworks with great accuracy. I really enjoyed going to through the book and making a plane, (there are some pictures below or attached) you explained everything thoroughly so that I had confidence to try it, including what problems I might run into. Not everything went perfectly but the resulting plane performs very well, and I can’t wait to make another should work even better. Thank you very much for opening up the wonderful world of hand planes, and tools to me. You plane irons are also of exceptional quality and I will be ordering some more very very soon! I think I’ll even try your spokeshave blade as well. (I no longer offer spokeshave blades nor do I produce my own blades, but I do offer A-2 cryogenically treated blades by Hock Tools which are every bit as good. DF)
I recently bought your book, and just completed making my first plane from the book.The plane exceeded my expectations, and it’s quite a pleasure to use. Thanks for writing a VERY complete book. I am a guitar maker and hobby furniture maker. I’ve been using metal planes for many years in my wood working, and recently someone gave me an old antique wooden Jack plane. I tuned it up and was surprised how pleasant it was to use, and the big thing I liked was once you set the iron where you want it it STAYS there! Bailey style ones always jump out of alignment when I least expect it. So since one of my most exacting guitar tasks is smoothing the plates (yes I have an abrasive planer, but I prefer hand planing if I can) I got your book and jumped into making a smooth plane. I made my own iron out of O-1 tool steel.
The tool is everything I hoped it would be! I got a nice tight throat and I just love how the iron holds it’s setting. I smoothed a spruce top with it today, it was SO easy and pleasant, wow. Thanks again for a great book. When I build my next one I’ll order one of your irons. I also just made a wooden spokeshave but that’s another story…
I just finished reading your book and constructing a wooden plane. I never thought I would be able to construct such a fine and useful tool with my own hands. I also ordered my plane iron from you and am very pleased with its performance.
Let me add another testimonial for your book “Making and Mastering Wood Planes”.
A little background, I had purchased a copy of “The Fine Art of Cabinet Making”by James Krenov this past summer. As you know, he discusses the wooden plane and gives some basic directions on how to make one, but leaves many details as an exercise for the student. I put this into to my mental project to-do list, starting to think through the details. I was delighted to find your book at my local Woodcraft this fall, noticing the connection to Mr. Krenov and his approach. I ordered one of your plane blades in October.
My woodworking schedule being what it is (optional and discretionary), I just completed my first plane, a smoother made from red oak, following the directions in your book. The only thing I did differently was the tenons for the cross bar, I couldn’t find a 5/16 non-tapered plug cutter, so I ended up boring holes in maple (oak end grain is too open, made the bit wander too much) and inserting dowels. Worked well. What a beautiful machine, 1 mil continuous shavings, a real pleasure to hold and use. Just as advertised by you and Mr. Krenov. I think I’ll build a jack plane next, when you have more 1.75” blades available.
I also decided to revisit the whole waterstone method of sharpening based on your book, built a sharpening station, now I sharpen much more often. Your directions on how to flatten waterstones and metal planes (something I’ve done a lot of) shed some new light for me. Basically, I learned a lot by reading and doing. Your book is in the top 3 in my woodworking library for practical, well written fun to read, helpful teaching.
Dave Rochester, NY
Finished the plane over the weekend and very pleased with the result.
I made the plane body from a Tinglewood log I’ve had in my workshop for a couple of years. Tinglewood is a native West Australian species and is no longer available commercially. It is quite a hard wood to work but has finished well. Time will tell whether it makes a good plane body!
Once I finished tuning the plane I was able to produce full width, continuous semi-transparent shavings in both American Cherry and White Oak which is impressive given I am using a 2″ Iron.
I’m looking forward to using and fine tuning the body shape of my first hand built (Krenov) plane in the coming weeks.
Brian from Australia
I’ m proud to present you my first wooden plane. I’m still tuning it a bit but I was really so astonished and pleased by the first shaving results that I want to honor you with my acknowledgments. I think most of the credits goes to your book which introduced me to an approach for tools and craft which I really like.
Also covered the book the whole process of plane making and techniques so thoroughly that it saved me from many pitfalls which would have been resulted in a less superior plane. Also, the hockblade has definitely contributed to the end result. My next goal is get some O1-steel and try to make a blade myself by hardening and tempering the iron. I ‘m sure there will follow lots of shopmade wooden planes in my woodworking life.
I was in the garage last night, practicing with my new jack plane, on a triangular scrap from its construction. I planed two primarily end grain faces to flawless smoothness, and the side grain face to a glassy sheen. I showed them to my wife and friends here at work, who all were dumbfounded when I told them no sandpaper was involved.
I now am no longer mystified by the luster and depth of pieces produced by College of the Redwoods grads. I’m literally stunned by the polished beauty of these surfaces, the fact that I produced them myself, and their potential appearance once shellac’d.
I thank you effusively for your book, and would encourage anyone who is looking for woodworking’s ‘killer app’ to study it. Study every word of this book as I did, and you won’t be disappointed!
Rob in San Francisco
I just received my copy of your book on Friday and I built my first plane today. Absolutely stunning. What a great feeling to feel and see those first shaving curl up over your hand. Thank you so much for the effort you put into your book.
Roy in California
Just a quick email to say thanks for the plane iron-I’ve finished my first plane (following the advice in your book) and it came out great!
I built the plane for a woodworking competition-the competition was to build a project that includes man made materials. I used MDF on the cheeks of the plane (I know-its sounds like heresy! But it worked out o.k.) Have a look at the attached photo.
So, once again, thanks very much and keep up the good work!
Update: You may be interested to know that my “MDF ” plane won first prize in the recent UK Workshop competition-prize $250 worth of diamond sharpening stones!! So I am a happy bunny!
I was very happy to see that your book is back in print! I have had a copy for a few years now, and am continually amazed at how much information you included. I’m going to order a copy for my cousin, and a new edition for myself. It truly is a treasure, and one of the best books on planes and planemaking- indeed one of the best on woodworking,that I’ve ever seen. Thank you for sharing your consummate skill, obvious care and attention to detail.
Thanks again for the great book, and good luck to you. If you ever write another, I would most certainly buy it!
I just finished making, tuning up and testing my first wooden plane. I usually don’t like following instructions, but in this case I followed the steps in your book closely and got really fantastic results. Taking it slow helped a lot, as did your meticulous descriptions of each stage of the project. Your plane iron and chip breaker work beautifully as well – very easy to balance while honing and the razor sharp edge has held up through a couple hours of testing. I’ll be making that adjusting hammer soon – tapping the wedge with a chisel handle works, but is not the best way to go.
Thanks for the great book and fine product.
Jim in Princeton, NJ
I purchased your book several years ago, and I have to say that it is the best book on woodworking that I have ever read. I believe that the mark of an outstanding teacher is the ability to begin with a single subject, and without deviating from that subject, to impart a huge body of knowledge to the student. So, thank you for that. I would encourage you to write another book!
Ryan inPasadena, Ca.
I just finished my first plane having read your book a few times and using one of your 1.5″ irons. All I can say is wow! I have never been more happy with a tool I made. I have never been able to plane end grain well or produce such fine shavings until now. Thank you. I just ordered another iron.
Brian in Maple Park, IL
I just finished reading your book. I have never writen to an author before but felt that I should write to you. From the first pages of your book I loved it. I tend to read a lot of do-it-yourself books and they are generally OK. The way you have written this book makes me feel that when I go to build my planes, you will be there looking over my shoulder and giving the gentle guidance that is needed. I don’t think that you could have made it anymore clear or easy to follow. I just wanted to say thanks for a book that will be well worn out. You have answered a lot of small questions that others don’t seem to feel are important to let their readers know. I think when others discover your book it will become a classic that will be referred to for years and years. Thanks again
Romas in Dundas Ontario Canada
I purchased your book some time ago, along with a number of Irons…. I’ve made a number of planes that I wouldn’t trade for the world… thank you for putting together what I consider the definitive book…
Hello! I am a violin maker. Read your plane book and was absolutely thrilled by it. You had clear directions , very concise pictorial diagrams and clear focused instruction. Please write more books!!!!!
I needed a jointer plane with lots of clearance in front of the blade to do breadboard jointing with hideglue of violin plates. I applied your method to making a jointer plane in lamination and it worked marvelous.
I used maple floorboards i bought a wood floor shop as “samplers” and a sole board of bloodwood. Made a working plane in no time.
I wanted to let you know that I received the book on Thursday, January 4, a day earlier than expected. I have read about half of the book in sections of greatest interest. I will say that the reviews and comments I had read on the book were very complementary and I can see why. The book is much more than a book on making planes. It is a well written description of woodworking. These were most of the comments I had read on the message boards that it was a woodworking guide of sorts.
I especially enjoy the level of how technically it is written. It is detailed and descriptive in a manner than gives excellent word pictures of the item being described. Obviously when writing about this type of subject it is a technical adventure, unfortunately, many writers may be excellent in the subject but lack the writing skills to convey what they want. This book is written with a clear and understandable level but shows that the author is well versed in the art of woodworking. I can appreciate good technical writing since I have been exposed to both good and bad in my field.
I am an amateur woodworker in Boston and just wanted to let you know that your book has helped me immensely reach another level of craftsmanship. I have made 3 of my own planes now and find myself reaching for them before my regular metal planes. I am currently finishing off my set with a jointer plane, utilizing one of your irons, made from an old growth Douglas Fir beam I salvaged from a barn I am renovating here in New England. The wood is exceptionally stable and with a bubinga sole it will remain true.
Jeremy in Boston, MA
Ray in Trenton, NJ
What a fine book you have written. I greatly admire the thoroughness of your work, answering and anticipating problems at every stage, as well as the excellent photographs.
David: I have now made 2 planes using your book, one using an iron I purchased from you and the other using a 2″ wide blade from Lie-Nielson yrs ago. A 2″ iron does make a wide plane, and it does take significant effort to create a thin shaving 1.5″ wide on hard woods with which I work. I’m not sure how much it will get used but it was great fun and very satisfying making it. I wanted to mention just a few things. Your book is terrific, sufficiently detailed and with very clear explanations. Both of the planes I made turned out well. Both create paper thin shavings like those shown on page 112. Several yrs ago I made 2 planes based on directions in Krenov’s first book. I even took a course on plane making from a frequent contributor to Fine Woodworking magazine. In neither case was I able to figure out why the planes did not work they way they should. Once I had made the 2 planes based on your book, I now understand what was wrong with the others, and I was able to correct the errors and make them into respectable planes. The amount of detail in your book was perfect and because of your book, I not only have 4 planes, but I also have learned new techniques and far better ways of doing certain tasks. So, thank your for writing such a helpful book. A lot of work goes into such a book, and I hope you sold many copies. I certainly hope you will write another! There are tons of books out there on how to make this or that project but few approach these projects with the philosophy, precision, clarity and detail you did. So I hope you write many more and soon.
i love your book! i’m an aspiring woodworker and i’m so glad that i started my woodworking journey with your direction. i’ve had such a great time putting together my first, of many i hope, wooden plane. i can’t believe how much i’ve learned and am excited about how many more secrets the wooden plane has to teach me. thanks so much for sharing your knowledge, its been such a great gift
I managed to get hold of a copy of the revised edition of your book, after much hunting, shipped from an online store in the UK. I’m a bit of a newcomer to woodworking – not a complete utter newbie, I can sharpen a plane/chisel blade pretty decently, cut & drill square and measure accurately. I even managed to tune a cheap Asian metal bodied plane to cut very nicely indeed. But I have to say that your book is just fantastic! Its easily the best book I have purchased so far to further my woodworking abilities – I was expecting lots of good info about building planes, but the sheer amount of information in there on the whole host of related topics just staggered me. It just doesn’t compare to any other book or magazine article or online resource I have yet read – its more akin to having a mentor stand next to you and tell you what you’re doing right or wrong! Many techniques that I had learned from other sources – for example truing the sole of a plane or sharpening a blade properly – you went into far, far more detail and answered questions I still had about the things I was already practicing. Where others would say “true the sole of your plane by attaching sandpaper to a flat surface and passing it repeatedly over until it abrades evenly”, you went into much greater detail about what is going on and why. Having been a math and physics tutor in the past, for me I know that the why is just as important as the how!
For me, woodworking runs in the blood. My grandfather was a carpenter his whole life, and I’ve always been in awe of his hand-made brass spokeshaves, his massive collection of antique Stanley planes all fettled to perfection, and his smaller collection of wooden ones. I guess I have picked up a little of his passion for planes – and I’m planning to build a few soon!
Thank you very much for writing the book, and thank you for making it so accessible and thorough, even for less experienced woodworkers! Even if I never make a wooden plane, it will have helped me greatly in other ways too. I really hope the book makes it back into print!
Tristan in England’
I want to thank you for writing a book that forever changed the way I think about and approach woodworking.
Richard in Seattle
Greetings from Finland,
I bought my copy of your awesome book from dick-tools Germany. I am interested in wooden planes and wanted to find more about them. I was so impressed by beautiful planes that I ordered three plane irons. When they arrived i was even more impressed! Then I ordered three more… Now i am building my first plane from a piece of oak i found from my stash.
THANK You for your wonderful book and inspiration!
Thanks for an illuminating and well-written book. Few have described woodworking techniques in such a clear, detailed, insightful fashion (and I have read hundreds of books and articles over the years).
For example, I have NEVER read a description anywhere else of the simple, progressive procedure for squaring the edge that you provide in Chapter 5 (p. 131-2). That sure beats trying to freehand a 90- degree angle or clamping a temporary fence on the plane. I am liberated!
Steve in Santa Barbara, California
Your book “Making & Mastering Wood Planes” is a great. You not only cover wood plane making but include all the necessary details on the use of the tools and materials necessary to do so. Also, the pictures are very clear and helpful.
Dear Mr. Finck,
Just a quick note to say how much I continue, to enjoy your excellent book . I have had my copy for about a month or so now and it hasn’t been left alone for more than twenty-four hours since it arrived. I love the in-depth nature of the attention paid to each subject, without going too far and getting boring. I have always loved handplanes, but twelve months ago, had never used a wooden plane, let alone considered making one. Now I’m well on the way to building up a decent set mostly from local Australian timbers. The first two – both smoothers – being of some Sydney Blue Gum salvaged from a tree that came down in a storm some six years ago.
Once again, thank you.
Jean-Marc in Australia
I just finished reading your book. Man, what a wealth of information!!! The title is a bit of a misnomer though. Other than the chapter on actually making a plane, this book is applicable as much to metal planes as wooden. This is one book I’ll want to read and reread over and over. Now I understand Chris Schwarz’s statement that he wore out his first copy.
Thank you for writing this book AND keeping it in print!
I would like to express my appreciation for your book on making hand planes. Although I haven’t yet made a plane following your design (I made a one piece plane at the IYRS school), I do intend to do so shortly. What I very much like about your book are the detailed descriptions and information that you provide on peripheral techniques required to make your plane (and do accurate woodwork in general). I was quite pleased to learn that the coarser a dry japanese waterstone is, the faster it will soak up water. That solved a dilemma I had about the relative grade of two old waterstones. Your discussion on sharpening plane blades is by far the best that I have read. Thank you.
I finally got serious about my threats and built a plane. I was inspired by the recent death of my grandfather – at the ripe old age of 90, completely senile and with severe dementia, not even recognising his wife or daughters, he still knew his way around planes and could quote amazing facts about the planes he started out with. I figured there was no point wasting any more time, lifes too short for procrastinating! It was great fun. Being my first, I thought I’d skimp and do it on the cheap, to practice the steps and techniques and get a bit of a feel for it first. Well, I guess I needn’t have skimped – I’m well pleased with the result!
I skimped by laminating the body out of cheap “hobby wood” beech bought from a big box store, a new Stanley 45mm iron with no cap iron, and simple brass rod for the pin. Laminating the body was quite a pleasant technique I thought – it was 5 layers of 15mm thick beech in the end. I also deviated from the plan by using entirely hand tools – no electrons were harmed in the making of my plane! I also trued the ramps and the sole using sandpaper only. I built a 20cm (8″) long plane.
Only a few hours of work in and I was tuning the final wedge – I had it to a reasonably snug fit and just had to give it a go. I think I spent the next hour and a half making shavings for the heck of it, getting used to how wood planes handle, adjusting the blade, etc. Very satisfying! Even though the iron was not fully honed (I could shave hairs, but only with some force), the wedge was not fully tuned, and the iron was cheap nasty Stanley junk without a cap iron, it cuts great. It excels at heavy shavings, and I think with some more tuning it’ll to a reasonable job of finer shavings. At the moment I get a bit too much chatter when trying to take fine shavings – I mostly attribute this to the blade, however the wedge is still a bit thick, so the front of the blade has very little support.
Not bad for maybe $20 and a few hours invested! I might just open the mouth a bit more, radius the blade and use it as a scrub plane. Or I might buy or make a thicker iron, file the brass pin back a bit to suit, and fettle the wedge some more.
Anyway, you’ve got me converted! I’ll be making some irons from O1 steel or ordering some Hock blades, and make myself a whole family of wooden planes now 🙂
So many thanks, once again, for writing your book. It is still my favorite woodworking book!
I recently received and read your plane making book and found it the best I have read on woodworking–along with Tage Frid.
Thanks so much for the great book!
Your book Making and Mastering Wood Planes is a treasure and sits rarely idle amongst my Krenov and native Australian tree guides.
I just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your book very much. I made a few knives according to your plans and have made a scrub plane (picture 64) and a smoothing plane (photos 67 and 73). Everything works very well…better than I had hoped. I am sure that my next smoothing plane will be better than my first. I found the instructions to be very good and the added information on using a plane, sharpening blades, using a scraper etc. to be most helpful. I enclosed a couple of low resolution shots.
I wanted to let you know I really appreciated your book. It’s the missing manual to all of the planes I already own, and the groundwork for the ones I am sure I will build. I can’t tell you how much your book has changed the way I work, and even think about the process of woodworking.
I took a picture of my first attempt (it’s made of mesquite), when the fine shavings came shooting through the tight throat I have to admit I might have giggled like a schoolgirl. You were right, I did figure out how to do it without the band-saw. I haven’t shaped it yet as I want to get a feel for it first. The blade that you made is the best one I have experienced, it takes and holds an edge to a degree that I never thought possible. I will be buying many more of these trough the years I am sure.
I’ve been having a TOTAL enjoyment building planes from the book. Gave one as a present at the holidays (Jack plane of yellow birch), and it was all I hoped. Recipient was thrilled, so me too! He is shaving “fluff” and totally loving it. Me too! Thanks for the instruction.
John (at 2 jack planes so far, but many more planned!)
After discovering your website I decided to order your book and give plane making a try. Wow. I was very impressed with the performance of a wooden plane. I spent last weekend building a set of planes. I built the smoother with a ramp angle of 52 degrees. Your video library is great. Thanks for all your great information.
David, I had tried building a wooden plane in the past, and yes, it worked, kind of, something I used occasionally just to say I had, but mostly I used my metal planes, a LV BU jack, which was my favorite plane, a few old stanleys that I had rehabbed, and just couldn’t see the point or allure of wooden planes. I purchased your book, Making and Mastering wood planes, not only did I gain a tremendous amount of knowledge of working with wood as opposed to machining wood, but I also decided to build a 22″ jointer with a 2″ Hock Iron. (Yes, sometimes I go to the extremes). Wow!, Thanks to your teaching ability, I now have a new favorite plane. I have some gnarly birds eye, and some ribbon stripe “mahogany” that exhibited tremendous tear out with anything other then the LV BU jack with a 50* blade in it. After tuning the new wooden jointer, decided to really put it to the test and grabbed some of the birds eye and some of the ribbon stripe. In both cases it planed it to what appears to be a waxed surface with zero tear out, and ready to finish. So, just wanted to say thanks for providing the knowledge, and being a great teacher. I have plans on building several more wooden planes ranging from a smoother to some block planes.
I have finished my first plane! I just wanted to write and say Thank You for sharing the info in your book!
I purchased your book a while ago and have used it to make my first jointer. Your instructions were clear and helpful making my first attempt at plane making a successful one. It leaves a great finish on hardwoods–no sanding needed, just a little burnishing with the shavings.
I don’t know if you’ll read this, but I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your wooden planes DVD. I’m a novice woodworker in the UK and I’ve used quite a few DVDs to help build my skills (Charlesworth, Cosman etc) but this is certainly the best and most thorough I have seen. I was initially inspired to try making a wooden plane after seeing those made by UK furniture maker/tool maker David Barron. I found out about your book and DVD through him and my interest has grown from there.
I felt the quality of your teaching and the level of detail you went into was perfect. Every question I had was answered. I hope you’ll continue to produce further DVDs as time allows. I’d certainly be interested to see a title devoted to guitar making in the future although I appreciate this would be a huge project to take on!
Many thanks. I’ll continue to watch your work with interest.
Many years ago, I received a copy of your book “Making and Mastering Wooden Planes”, as a Christmas present from my sister-in-law. I was fortunate enough to get an autographed copy. Just want you to know that it is one of my prized books. I have read it over and over through the years and find myself picking it up on those evenings when I need a little quiet relaxation time to myself.
Thank you for sharing your time and talent with us all. You are an inspiration to me. I never got the opportunity to meet James Krenov in person. Through you though, I feel I have.
I purchased your book and a 2″ iron several months ago and excitedly prepped a blank for a smoother and a jointer as soon as I received the book. Those blanks languished under my bench until some free time opened up a couple of days ago. The clarity and specificity of your book made the time spent on this an absolute joy and sincerely one of the most satisfying things I have ever made. I have attached a couple of photos of the finished plane.
For the construction, I followed your instructions exactly except for 2 things. Firstly, I turned the cross-pin on the lathe rather than the methods you suggested. This seems to me to be the perfect way to guarantee that the tenons be co-axial, especially since I am working in a school shop where all the equipment is not always trustworthy. I then flattened one segment on the turned pin with my block plane. My second departure was in the use of the triangular scrap. I was able to get both the cross-pin and temporary wedge out of this piece which seemed very poetic. In order to do this the temporary wedge needed to be much shorter than the one shown in your book. I skipped ahead a few steps and cut the temporary sweep in the cheeks that you show later on in order to do be able to use the shorter temporary wedge. Finally, although you say that a finish is not necessary, after simply burnishing with some some shavings to soft sheen, I could not overcome the temptation the next day to stop myself from applying several coats of butcher block conditioner.
Anyway I just wanted to thank you for the great book and iron in a very longwinded way.
Hi David, just wanted to let you know how helpful your plane making book & DVD
have been, & how much I have enjoyed them. I found that buying planes, – even second hand ones – were becoming too pricey, & had thought about making my own for a few years now.
My wife said 90 planes should be enough, which was the biggest
load of rubbish I ever heard of. I’ve made a dozen so far & have no interest in stopping now. (After all,
nothing exceeds like excess,) I have even managed to sell a few of them to people
who have been very happy with them, so I must have learned something from the Master.
Many thanks, & Happy planing. Yours, Brent
Hi David ,
Your book making and mastering wood planes has just arrived here in England. What a wonderful book. I have made a small Krenov-style plane from bits of information found on the internet, it has a steel rod holding the blade and wedge, with a Hock blade. Works a treat. I am now making a jack plane with toted handle and razee type body.
Not having done any wood working for too many years I have learnt so much from making these planes. Your book I think acknowledges this voyage of discovery. I will be making more hand planes in the future using your techniques. It is unfortunate that new woodworkers are unlikely to use wooden hand planes, I was taught by a cabinet maker at school. But I never used a wooden hand plane until recently, I am now fifty one!, using wooden planes allows you to feel the cut as you plane wood. A superb book, I will be reading it from front too back avidly and my workshop will be buzzing to the contented sound of a happy woodworker.
All the best, Dale
I’m a woodworker in southern Ontario and wanted to say a quick hello and thanks for a wonderful book on making planes. I wanted to study with James Krenov when I was younger but he had already retired. I ended attending Rosewood Studio in Ottawa with Ted Brown and also taking lessons from Robert Van Norman and Adrian Ferrazzutti.
Over the past few years I’ve started teaching a bit of woodworking myself and recently Lee Valley Tools here in Toronto asked me to do a seminar on planes. I recommended your book in my handout notes and most of the students ended up buying the book on their first lunch break.
Aside from a little more shaping, I just completed a plane with your book and DVD, attached a picture. Sitting behind it, is a Krenov orginal, still have not brought myself to use that one or even remove all of the blue tape. I have made a few planes before but, I was never really satisfied with the results, I am however thrilled with this new one There are quite a few little details that really made the difference and your instructional layout and method was spot on, has to be one of the best books/DVD out there for the woodworker. Working on a scraping plane next, to go along with the one I just made, for a “spirits” cabinet I have been asked to make. Just placed an order for additional irons for future planes.
All the best,
I’m an American currently living in Thailand. I manage a language school here. After spending a great deal of time as a child in my father’s wooden boat shop, I have recently (I’m 31 now) re-discovered the affinity for wood and wood working that those years instilled in me. As well as a few modest boxes, small furniture pieces, and shop-made tools, I’m making and selling gourd banjos…which is great because it combines my love of wood with my love of music. Seeing that you build guitars, I’m sure you can relate.
I bought your book on making Krenov-style planes and my cousin who came to visit me here in Thailand (and brought the book with her) was also kind enough to buy me two of your plane irons as a gift, with which to get started on my project. I recently finished my first attempt at a smoothing plane, using a 2″ iron.
I just wanted to say thank you for creating such a wonderful book and sharing your skills and knowledge with a wide audience. I enjoyed making my plane, I plan to make more, and I know I will enjoy using my new tools every time I pick them up for many years to come. I’ve attached a few pictures of my plane.
I thought that you might be interested to see the outcome of the blades and video that you sent me. I completed four planes in time for our Annual Woodwork Exhibition which was on Saturday 13 October in Pretoria and entered them for judging. I was most gratified when I won gold medals and also the “Best on Show” award! I enclose a picture of my entries. I also made some marking gauges. Your book and video were invaluable in guiding me through the process. Several of our members were most interested in ascertaining where I got the plane irons and I expect that you will be getting some orders from South Africa.
I will take some more photos of each plane and can send them to you if you are interested. They were all made from local hardwoods
With kind regards
Paul in South Africa
Thanks David- Book and video were AWESOME. Decided to build two at once and finished both in two days – thanks to your guidance 🙂 17″ Jointer and 13″ Jack
I received my videos yesterday and have viewed them both……..they are absolutely the best ! I’ll be 73 years old soon and I have a good library of wood working books and DVDS but you have done a master job. Thanks for all the additional information on planing and sharpening…..it was most valuable to me! I just built my first wood plane (I bought your book in 2007) and just recently decided to start building all the different planes I will need. My metal planes just don’t satisfy me and I think the wooden plane helps me connect with the wood better, if that makes sense.
More planes by Rob:
Thanks for everything! The book and video provided great instructions . . . but you must have heard that from a lot of other people. So instead of filling your ears with more accolades, I decided to show the bottom line. Understand that I only retired 3 years ago (as a professor in a medical school) and over the past year have been learning to use power tools. The first photo shows my 12-inch hand plane made from quarter-sawn white oak. Using this plane (and a low-angle Stanley block plane), I thereafter built a 18” jointing plane from hard maple (second photo). Both planes work very well — particularly after I learned to sharpen the blades and to align the blades properly them in the plane body. The discussion on how to plane and check the straightness/square were also extremely valuable.
Although relatively inexperienced, I had no difficulty following any of instructions laid out in the book and video. I particularly found the jigs described very useful, e.g., the jig for routing out a groove for the cap-screw. I also built the recommended blade holder for the grinder (background in first photo) and am currently building a “sharpening station” for using the water stones. Thanks for making your knowledge available in a clear, comprehensive, and logical format. You did a fantastic job anticipating and answering the questions a newcomer like myself would have.
Thank you for making such a great dvd and book. I really did not think that I would be making my very own handplane. I have read all of James Krenov’s books and wondered if I could pull it off. Thank you so very much for making such a great instruction manual, I just made my first shavings with my first plane, I will remember this moment for the rest of my life.
Layne & Laura
Thank you for packaging the book and dvd so well. Due to your cardboard covering It arrived undamaged. Excellent book and DVD. I like it so much I just ordered one for a friend.
Sorry for clogging up your inbox, but I wanted to share what you taught me to do (through the book/DVD of course)! It’s not perfect, but it works which is more than I was expecting. Used 6/4 hard maple I had laying around and laminated it to make a 12″ jack plane. I also used a brass rod to keep the wedge in place (ed. I don’t generally recommend this approach as the blades usually don’t seem to take and hold adjustments very well). This thing works better than my eBay special (refurb 1930’s Stanley jack that I over paid for).
Thanks for your help in making my first few wood planes. Your ‘Making & Mastering Wood Planes’ book and video proved invaluable in my success. I like your teaching style and the many tips that you give. Do you have other books and videos?
Keep up the good work.
Wayne in New Jersey
Hi David. I recently finished my first plane according you your book. I was only able to get a shaving about 8-10 thou and then I realized I hadn’t heat treated the 01 steel I had sent to me. I cooked it in my BBQ and then tempered it in the oven and now I get a shaving about 2-3 thou. I can’t match that with any of my store bought planes. This was my first attempt and I succeeded because of your careful instruction.
I didn’t bother with a brass head on the adjusting hammer I just used maple but it works well enough.
Thank you or taking the time to write the book.
Well it’s done, this plane is fabulous, it works wonderfully. The tricky part is getting that iron cambered properly but I think I have it figured out. I can put a gentle radius on it using my Tormek water grinder and polish it with my strop. I even made a little hammer. Next is a compass plane and a jointer. The book and video are a tremendous resource for making these planes.
I have your excellent book on making wood planes. I have many woodworking books and yours is certainly among the best. I have made one plane and am working on another…
Thanks for the great instructions. –Herb
It is Spring and it is Easter. A good time to write about beginnings. This blog has been silent for many months. Since making my first violin a little over a year ago, the majority of my woodworking time has gone into studying violin-making and making violins. I suppose I turned inward when engulfed by the intensity of absorbing so much new information and so many new skills. A new passion has been ignited! My sixth violin is well under way. With the recognition received by these early efforts from violin players and professionals in the field, I feel qualified to call myself a violin~ maker and have set up a web site to advertise that fact:
The success of my first violin, which I wrote about earlier, inspired another go. Having made an instrument for one violin-playing daughter, without question I had to build another for her violin-playing sister. Willa was very pleased with Neshomeh, her new violin. Neshomeh means “soul” in yiddish. She used it when she recently won the Asheville Symphony Young Artists Competition. As a result, she may have an opportunity to solo with that orchestra this Fall. This summer Willa tours the country with Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra. They will play at some of the top venues in the nation and accompany violin great Gil Shaham. Neshomeh will accompany Willa on her trip
Finally, a very nicely produced local magazine profiled me in their most recent issue. It’s called the High Country Magazine. Here’s a link to the article: http://www.hcpress.com/april-mag-2014 It starts on page 42.
Until next time
Quite a few years ago I retrofitted my work bench with casters. It is great to be able to move the beast around relatively easily as needed. Trouble was, my wall-mounted tool racks sometimes became inconvenient to reach with the bench in certain positions. A little cheapo 6-drawer plastic unit on plastic casters came my way and I decided to use it to mock up a rolling cart to hold all my most used tools. I thought it would be handy to have my tools wheeled around, close at hand, no matter where my bench was positioned. It did prove convenient for tool access, but I often had to roll it out of my way in moving around the shop. Then the little casters gave out and my mock up was kaput.
This proved to be motivation to build a drawer unit under the bench top — another strategy I had been mulling for quite some time. I wanted the drawers to be durable and look decent but I did not want to make this into an involved project so I decided to simply miter the corners, then reinforce them with 2-3 splines and glue plywood bottoms into rabbets to add further strength and rigidity. I left a space between the bottom of the bench-top and the top of the drawer unit to provide a shelf and set the unit back enough to be out of the way of the bench-dogs.
One thing I did not want to lose was the storage space I had incorporated between the stretchers so I hung the whole drawer unit on drawer glides to allow access:
I used doubled up hardware on each side as the heavy-duty rated ones where rather pricey. They are working out nicely. The drawers now hold, chisels, marking tools, saws, and all kinds of miscellanea. I like it!
Until next time,df
If you follow this blog at all then you know that I recently built a violin. Violin making is a scraper intensive task — mostly using curved scrapers. The scrapers have to be sharpened quite well to function effectively on the soft spruce of the top. When working on furniture I am seldom tempted to scrape softwoods, but it is the best way to go when smoothing the compound curves of the top and graduating its thickness to the tenth of a millimeter. This challenge required upping my scraper sharpening game a bit, so I put on my thinking cap and came up with the solution pictured here, which tells almost the entire story.
Nevertheless, I’ll add a few words to clarify. The small block of 3/4″ plywood has squared edges. It is captured in my tail-vise along with a fine grit diamond sharpening plate. The wooden block on top of the curved scraper is attached to the scraper with very thin double sticky tape, creating a handle to maneuver the scraper easily. It is now a simple matter to form a nice sharp, square edge on the curved edge of the scraper. I have some ceramic stones that I used next to polish the edge further. I finished off the edge by rubbing some white polishing compound onto a square of MDF, clamping it up like the sharpening stones and buffing the edge of the scraper to a high shine. Before removing the “handle” polish the face of the scraper on your finest stones (I use a King 8000 grit water stone). To draw the burr I did most of the work with the burnisher flat on the surface, followed by a very light burnishing on the edge itself to raise a slight burr. This worked very effectively!
In case you are wondering, the tooth brush is used to clear swarf (man, I love that word) from the face of the stone.
Until next time!
Gluing the top and back went smoothly. I approached this with some trepidation given my inexperience using hot hide glue, but it went smoothly.
The next challenge was carving the scroll and making the neck
There is tremendous mystique surrounding the varnishing of violins, from the sealing and choice of a “ground”, to staining, and formulating and applying the varnish. I sealed with very diluted oil/varnish mix, stained with a combination of various water-based aniline dyes applied in layers, and then French polished using a garnet shellac. I think the results were very pleasing and it should age nicely as well.
Then it was on to fitting the pegs, sound-post, bridge, end-pin and tail-piece.
I got motivated to dive into this project when I knew that my eldest daughter would be needing a new violin. Was I naive, foolish, stupid? Probably all three and more besides. Ledah has been playing for about 14 years, she’s a freshman music major and an outstanding violinist. The violin she’s been playing for almost two years is a prize, (on loan) for winning the University of Delaware National String Competition in 2011. The instrument is a very costly one made by a prominent luthier, but it is due to be returned this Spring.
Well, here’s a clip of Ledah bringing out some of the first notes to come from my completed violin.
This experience has reminded me that it is often a good thing to dream, and even try to make those dreams a reality. Ledah was so pleased with my effort that she has chosen to play it over the other violin. Listening to both played side by side in a large room it was clearly the more resonant and powerful violin. I was absolutely floored and completely gratified. It felt like hitting a homerun on my first at bat in the Majors! Earlier that same day Ledah competed in and won the Durham Symphony (NC) Concerto Competition. She’ll be debuting as a soloist with the symphony in April 2013 and giving the violin its first public airing as well. I couldn’t be prouder of her. You know, I’m pretty pleased with my own effort this time too.
Time to finish up this rocker! I locate the mortices in the back posts with the aid of a dummy armrest to indicate where the armrest should be joined.
The template for the arm rest gives me locations for mortices and tenons as well as the general outline.
I shaped the back splats and rockers and applied finish to everything prior to seat weaving. I toned the oak with a couple coats of very dark garnet shellac and followed with two coats of an oil/varnish mixture I made up from Sutherland and Welles tung oil, uralkyd varnish, and their citrus based solvent. In this instance the mix was 1 part oil : 2 parts varnish : 3 parts solvent — very nice and very low toxicity!
With the finish completed I went around and pinned the joints. The front and back assembly rungs are pinned by virtue of the side rungs slightly overlapping them. I pinned the side rungs on the inside with 5/32″ D. bamboo skewer. More visible joints are pinned with walnut pegs.
I wove the seat from cotton Shaker seat tape in a simple over-under pattern, both top and bottom surfaces. A cushion of dense batting covered with muslin lies between the two woven layers.
The next step is to locate the post holes in the rocker, drill them and pound the rockers home.
The splats are inserted into the crest rail, which has extra clearance in the holes, so the bottom of the splat can clear the lower rail for insertion of the lower tenon.
And then the rocker is complete.
I’m working on the back assembly now. Here’s the the two back posts and crest rail.
The crest rail has been tenoned and the mating mortices of the back posts formed as well. The crest rail curvature and length determines the spacing and splay of the back posts making it a pivotal component to the overall success of the chair.
With the crest rail dry-fit to the posts the spacing between the posts is set so the back splat rail is cut to length and tenoned.
Since the crest rail will be glued and pinned and the two rungs of the back assembly will be as well, I’ll leave the back splat rail unglued. This simplifies the glueup of the back assembly and lets me fine tune the rotational position of the back splat rail without struggling against seizing glue. Now I’ve tapered the back posts at both ends and got the tenons that will insert into the rockers roughed on the band saw.
And now it’s on to shaping the back posts. They are tapered cylinders at the bottom and transition to parabolic in cross-section at the height of the back splat rail.
Contouring the crest rail.
This is the setup I used to drill the angled mortices in the front assembly. The simple holding jig is copied from the method described in Drew Langsner’s “Chairmaker’s Workshop” book.
With the plywood template held against the front seat-rung and the torpedo level resting on the template the front assembly is angled until leveled and then clamped in place. The drilling is done with the aid of a level as well and since the side-rungs are not perpendicular to the front assembly, that tilt angle is also incorporated in the drilling.
I dry-fit the back panel with the crest and back splat rail, then drilled for the seat- and lower-rung of the back assembly, and finally glued up the back assembly. Drilling the side-rung mortices into the back posts is probably the trickiest step of the entire chair, and unfortunately, the one step I did not document as I was so focused on getting it done right! If words will suffice, I first used my back panel mockup to determine the side seat-rung angle in relation to a flat surface when the back assembly was resting on that surface. I recorded that with a simple bevel gauge — a foot-long 2 x 4 with the end of a batten attached to one side in the middle with a single screw that is tightened enough to hold the batten in position as needed. A second similar bevel gauge gives the splay and the drill is aligned to the two bevel gauges for drilling.
With the side-rung mortices drilled in the front and back assemblies I fit a dummy side seat-rung of correct length to each side so I could get a length measurement for the lower side-rungs.
After shaping, drying, and tenoning the side-rungs the chair is really taking shape!
Until next time!