Over the years some Chinese (Mujingfang) planes have been and gone in the shed. They never suited my grip somehow. I still retain an ebony try plane that does some hog-it-off work on the rougher planks that might have something nasty in them. There are also some mini-planes of the Japanese type with ebony bodies and various profiled (concave and convex) soles & matching blades. But every other plane I have is now a metal item. ….
Until yesterday, when I finished making my first wooden plane from a kit. I was prompted to try making one to see if it was a viable option for obtaining a good quality plane for not much money (and some woodworking experience) so that my grandson and a couple of ladies who’ve been learning WW in my shed could begin a collection of tools without spending a fortune. The kit is that sold by Veritas consisting of a plan, a Norris adjuster, a small round brass bar, a block plane blade and a tightening knob for the blade-wedge.
The kit is sold by Dieter Schmidt’s Fine Tools in Germany without the blade for just under 17 euros (about $17 just now, I think). Since I have some Veritas block planes already, I just bought the bit-kit to give it a try with one of my blades.
Apart from the need for some imperial-sized drill bits (cuh!) the process is straightforward albeit demanding good precision in shaping and joining the wooden parts. Happily all but one of the imperial drill bits can be supplanted with standard metric sizes. (One still needs the 1/4″ bit to make the exactly-sized holes for the brass wedge-retaining bar).
The plan is about the essentials and allows the body shape and the length of the plane to be varied. I made one that looks a little like a mitre plane, 9″ long rather than the minimum 7″ for the kit; and is eventually intended to have a fence, to become a small foreplane for making straight square edges on smaller parts.
As it’s my first attempt, I found things in the finished article that I would do better next time. In fact, the pictured item will probably be tweaked a bit – a higher rear end; a different matching front knob (that one is from a Veritas sanding thingy); perhaps a slight dip in the middle of the top of the cheeks.
I already added a pair of grub screw blade confining screws, a la Veritas design in their metal planes.
The woods used are: old growth quarter-sawn cherry for the internal body, beech for the sole and yew for the cheeks.
I have the bug now, with a few more kits of metal parts on their way. I have five spare Veritas blades of various widths and as far as I can see, all will work with the Norris adjuster in the kit mentioned above, with only a longer brass bar required for wider blades & bodies.
And then there are the Hock kits; and no doubt others.
In’t woodworking good? 🙂