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.



4 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.


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