a few more thoughts about the planes I was discussing in the previous two posts. First off, here is the end view of the ash plane I made, so Alexander can see the orientation of the plane blank:

ash plane, end view

Alexander & I traded some quick emails this morning, about nomenclature & this style plane. First off, we have no notion as to whether or not English joiners used these short planes as “fore” planes. The only documentary evidence for this plane’s use in 17th-century England is Randle Holme, who refers to it as a smooth plane.

Nor do we know when the term “scrub” plane came into use. It is not a 17th-century term for a plane. Joseph Moxon’s description of a fore plane talks about a plane a good deal longer than these. Doesn’t mean every joiner used planes as Moxon described them…but we have little other evidence.

I know in the joined furniture I make, a long fore plane is rarely necessary. Moxon’s example of what a joiner was making was more like wainscoting for a room, rather than furniture, or “moveables” as the seventeenth century called it. He describes a  “quarter” – a piece of wood 2″ x 4″ x 7′ –   I rarely work stock of this length…but I can see where a longer fore plane would be helpful there.  My work often requires a few pieces of oak four feet, maybe 4 1/2 feet long, but most of the stock is  under three feet long. As I resume work on the book about making joined stools, (writing a book in your spare time is not advisable!) Alexander & I grapple with how much history part to include, and how much deviation from period practice is also tolerable.

All of this means what? When I am describing this plane & its function to visitors in my shop, I run down just what we have looked at here; it has a curved iron for rough stock  preparation, I think that this is the principal characteristic of the “fore” plane.  The ones I use are German/Dutch/Continental style, i.e. a short-bodied plane with a handle at the toe, or forward end of the plane.  We know the English used fore planes with convex-ground  irons, we know they used (sometimes) planes with a front “tote.” 

Here’s a modern German one, in the US we call this a scrub plane nowadays. It’s quite narrow, about an inch & a half, which I find uncomfortable to handle for any length of time.

German scrub plane

bottom of German scrub plane

That’s the main reason why I adapt the German smooth planes to use as a fore plane, they are available in wider sizes.

PF converted German smooth plane

And now, here is the Little Master, as Alexander was sometimes called, pulling a German-style plane towards the user’s tummy…an oft-praised technique. Jennie confirmed today that yes, in this case, the workpiece is fixed on the bench, not just shoved against a bench hook.

JA pulling a "horn" style fore plane


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