Specialty handplanes: Al Breed’s Best
Seven favorite handplanes from a lifetime collection
Synopsis: Al Breed has collected quite a few handplanes over the years, and he finds each of them rewarding in its own way. There are a few favorites, though, that he wouldn’t want to work without: the panel-raising plane, shopmade planes for reproducing specific molding profiles, his Stanley 45 combination plane, the Stanley 79 side rabbet plane, a toothing plane, and—least in size but not in importance—the Kunz skunk plane.
When I was in my teens, while many of my contemporaries were buying and fixing up cars, I was busy buying and fixing up antique furniture. I was also fascinated by the tools used to make the pieces I bought. One of the first planes I acquired was given to me by a man in town who repaired old furniture. He called it a bridge-builder’s plane. (I didn’t try too hard to figure out exactly which part of a bridge you might plane with this 32-in.-long, 9-1⁄2-lb. wooden monster.) I took it home and attempted to plane the side of an ash log I had hewn with another of my early finds, a broadaxe. Of course the plane did not work. Given my inexperience at the time and the number of factors needed to make a plane work, it would have been a miracle if it had. I did finally manage to get the bridge-builder’s plane to function, and I still have it; it works beautifully to flatten my workbenches .
I think planes are the most complex hand tools in the shop, there being numerous gremlins in each one that can prevent them from working as they should. Once these are exorcised,…