Thursday, March 21, 2019

Wooden Try Plane Build

After gaining experience with the jack plane, I also built a try plane.  I had bought the two double irons a few months ago with these two planes in mind.  The try plane iron is almost 2 1/2" wide - it's a monster.

Aside from its sheer size, the main difference between this plane and the jack plane is the tote.  The try plane is fairly heavy, so it needed to have a closed tote.  I did my best to make a pleasing shape.  The back of the tote is basically the same shape as the open tote for the jack plane and the front came from totes I saw online.  I also used photos of a plane I saw at a PAST tool show last year.
Prototype tote in poplar all marked out
I cut out the shape and rounded it to my liking - but didn't get an independent picture of it.  You'll see one a little further down.

The build process was very similar that of the jack plane, so I'll go over that quickly in pictures.
Squared up the blank, cut off the 1/2" thick sides, smoothed and squared the sawn surfaces
Marked out the throat on the main body
Sawed out the throat and planed the sawn surfaces flat and square to its sides
(prototype poplar tote shown)
Knifing a line on the sides to mark the rear aspect of the abutment recess
Made a sketch and calculated where the front aspect of the abutment recess will go
Marked for the abutment recesses
Chiseled and routed the recesses
Made the slot in the main body bed for the cap iron screw
Glued up the plane body using cauls to distribute clamping pressure and to keep the sides and body in line
Removing glue squeeze-out and leveling the rear aspect of the abutment recess with the bed
Prepared a wedge complete with recess for the cap iron "nut" (shown)
It took a few iterations of planing and fitting, planing and fitting to get the right fit
Nice tight fit of iron and wedge to the recesses
Then marked out the blank for the final tote
Cut the shape with saws, shaped with chisels, rasps and files
Figured out where to place the tote - a little too close to the iron in this position
This gives better access to the iron, so I marked and then mortised for the tote
Got a good fit
Used hide glue to affix the tote
Needed to do quite a bit of work on the iron
Better, but still not flat - took a long time to flatten the back.
I then put a slight camber on the iron and sharpened it.
Added the same shaping details as on the jack's body.
Took some test shavings and all was good.
Then it was three coats of BLO over three days and she's ready to go.
Sitting and drying
The plane is about 23 1/2" long, 3 1/8" wide and 2 7/8" tall.  It's fairly heavy, but I think it's going to be a great worker.
Here's how the plane fits my hand.  I didn't lower the surface that the tote is
mortised into like I did on the jack plane, but I can still reach the iron with my finger.
For both the jack and this plane, time will tell whether the wood holds up.  They're made of some wood that came out of the sister's kitchen when she remodeled.  I've never definitively identified the wood, but I think it's alder.


  1. Nice job. I like the fact that for this one you went with a more traditional wedge butting against abutments. I find it secure the iron better than a simple cross pin. What's next a smoother?

    Bob, slowly coming back to life, as normal as can be :-)

    1. Hi Bob. Hope you're starting to feel better.

      I made a coffin smoother in July of last year using a similar technique as the try and jack planes. It only has a single iron, but it does work. It's just that it doesn't work as well as my metal planes. Even so, I'd like to start using it more frequently.

  2. Wow man, really beautiful! I am currently reading Hands Employed Aright and Jonathan Fishers planed had the tires offset to the right of the body a bit so as to balance things out a bit with your left hand on the toe. It made so much sense to me after I saw it! I am hoping to make some planes in the future using your guides for help but I think I may offset the tote.

    Also those irons look like an old black and white painting of coastal Oregon (I’ve never been but that’s what I’ve seen pictures of)

  3. Thanks a lot, Justin. I've seen planes with the tote not centered, but I wasn't convinced of the benefit. That book sounds very interesting - I've considered getting it, but there's too much to read and not enough time. Good luck with you future plane building - let us know how it turns out. I got to use the plane today and it was awesome!