At this point in my hand plane collection, I am willing to try building a hand plane. I currently have a Lie Nielsen #4 bench plane, a Lie Nielsen #60R rabbeting block plane and a Veritas low angle jointer plane. A while back, I bought David Finck’s book, Making & Mastering Wood Planes, and even after reading this book, which devotes 192 pages to every aspect of making and using wood hand planes, I still felt intimidated at the thought of building one.
When contemplating a fun gift for my recent 55th birthday, I told my wife I wanted a Hock Tools Shoulder Plane Kit. My thinking was building a kit will help ease me into the world of making hand planes – not that I envision making a lot of wooden body hand planes. I don’t, but maybe a couple or three; we will see.
The photo at the top of the post shows the kit with all the parts. A benefit of plane building from a kit is that the folks at Hock Tools have already milled-up the parts, at least to a near final form. The parts are crisply formed, straight and square. Makes me wonder if they were formed via a CNC machine, not that there is anything wrong with that.
Building this plane could not be easier, but first timers would do well to view the instructional video. I must have played it back three or four times. Take a look…
My only concern after glue-up was the possibility that I did not spread enough glue. There seems to be some flex in the plane body after the blade is positioned and the wedge tapped in place. Pressure from the wedge forced the sole of the plane to be un-flat (is that a word? Out of flat, non-flat, flat-less). In the video at the 8:50 mark, Ron Hock advises a second flattening of the sole with the plane blade inserted, but retracted; wedge in place. I assume this is to correct the out of flat situation naturally caused by wedge pressure. So, no issue with my glue-up; this re-flattening is standard plane building stuff.
With assembly and shaping completed, all I have to do now is figure out what an appropriate finish would be. Ron suggests oil.
Using a wooden body hand plane is sooo different than a metal body plane. As seen in the video, the adjustments to a wood hand plane – a hammer tap or two on the back, maybe another on the blade, all done to get the plane cutting well is interesting and takes some getting used to. But, I finally got some decent shavings. And the tapping with a hammer is kind of cool to do.
All things considered, a fun project. And Hock Tools offers an eleven inch long bench plane kit. I guess that would make it like a #4 1/2 bench plane? I don’t have a jack plane, so I may just download the plan; make it a little longer and buy a blade and chip breaker.
My only regret: due to the location of the dowels (which I thought were positioned pretty well), the plane is not as tall as is recommended. The recommended height is 2 1/4″. After trimming, mine is a little over two inches tall. I already have a couple of cut offs selected from my lumber storage area – a piece of mahogany and maple. I am thinking about building a second shoulder plane and making it better. Something I’ll play around with in the coming weeks…
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