a few of the planes I use

After selling a bunch of tools, how about looking at some in use? Someone asked about the planes I use. I searched the blog & it seems I haven’t written specifically about them. so here goes.    

A good starting point. This is a German plane Jennie Alexander “restored” – new front tote. new rear turned section behind the iron. Also ground the iron to a curve, so it functions like a fore plane, or scrub plane.

altered iron

I’m aware of discussion about the length of a fore plane in the 17th century; most folks feel it was longer than these German style planes. Might be so, but I favor this size plane for my roughing-out work.

Alexander got me turned onto these planes years ago, & I have collected a few of them for use in my shop. I keep a couple of them around, some ground this way, and some I keep as smooth planes.

Here is a Dutch “gerfshaaf” JA sent me. I learned the Dutch name from Gerrit van der Sterre’s Four Centuries of Dutch Planes and planemakers (Primavera Press, Leiden 2001) – I don’t use this one, but it and an 18th-century one I once studied were the inspiration for my home-made fore plane below.

PF Dutch style plane


Here is a view of two of my everyday planes – the Dutch style one just shown and one I based on a plane from the Mary Rose shipwreck.

PF planes

The short one is made from a very fast-grown ash tree. Its sole is 6″ long, and its iron, made by Mark Atchison, is 2″ wide. The Mary Rose type plane is itself a wreck. It’s birch I think. 22″ long, iron also by Mark, is 2 1/4″ wide. Big knot right where it counts, lead to a split. Nailed the split shut. but I have used it a lot for about 10 years or more.

I also use antique planes a lot. American and British – when I am doing a lot of stock preparation, I like to keep two jointer planes set up, one for a heavier shaving and one for a lighter shaving. That way I am not adjusting the planes all day, just picking up one or the other depending on what task is at hand. This plane is un-marked, but never had a double-iron, or chipbreaker. Cracked handle, all but worthless to a collector. Great for what I need. I made the wedge back when I got the plane. The one it came with was beyond repair. I think it’s over 26″ long. Iron about 2 1/2″ wide. Beech.

single iron jointer

Here’s one I have been using a lot in the past few years, another jointer. Made by Sargent Co in the 19th century. It has a double iron. 26″ long, 2 1/2″ wide iron.

Sargent plane

One more I often use, a bit less now than formerly. A “razee” plane, made by Thomas Appleton in Chelsea Massachusetts, 2nd half of the nineteenth century.


razee jointer

where did that term come from? The OED says this about razee:

Naut. To reduce (a ship) in height by the removal of the upper deck or decks.


To cut down; to reduce. Obs 

as in, 1815   ‘T. Tarpaulin’ Paddy Hew 107   In a trice I’ll razee you—you long, long splice.

1820   Deb. Congress U.S. 28 Jan. (1855) 1008   It would not follow that they should have power to razee a State..by depriving the admitted State of equal rights.
1837   F. Marryat Snarleyyow (ed. 2) I. v. 43   He was like a man razeed or cut down.
Razee planes are often ascribed to ships’ carpenters; and in fact the Mary Rose plane I semi-copied would fit that category, its back end is lowered from the area around the mouth. But that predates the OED use of the term by 300 years almost. A nice plane regardless. I like the way your back hand is down low. I think it helps in pushing…
so these are some of the planes I use a lot. There’s more. Lots more.



5 thoughts on “a few of the planes I use

  1. .

    On the subject of plane names, my grandfather always referred to any German planes with a front horn as “Bismarcks”. He served his apprenticeship as an electrician before the Great War, but his father was a joiner, so he probably got the term from him.

    Strictly speaking the term was given to front-horn scrub planes with a distinct curve for use across the grain, but he used it to mean any German-pattern plane.

    Like the origin of “Badger” planes, the term is obscure. It’s anybody’s guess where the term originated, but the shape is reminiscent of a Prussian Pickelhaube.

    All best from stormy Wales

  2. Peter;

    Believe razee is a term used when the top surface of a plane stock is cut down behind the cutting edge. This allows for a powrer stroke almost in the direction of the cutting edge.

    See Alvin Sellens; Dictionary of American Hand Tools

    “Plane, Razee….. A bench plane with the main body cut away in the rear….”

    See also John M. Whelan, The Wooden Plane,p. 43-44.

    It is intersting that neither Goodman nor Salaman cite this word.


  3. Interesting. I was just googling razee and got here. I was looking at a Sandusky catalog from 1925 that listed their fore planes as having razee handles. It shows the hand hold directly down on the body of the plane but the body is not cut down. The plane I’ve been working on is just like their pic. Maybe distortion of the term?

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