Monday 27 February 2012

Final Fitting

Here I'm chopping out the mouth opening by dropping a chisel into a knife line. I mark the line with a square which should line up with the blade if everything has been done accurately. I creep up on the mouth openning to avoid going too far, after a few years of practice this usually only needs two marks with the square to locate the mouth position. The paper pad provides support but is forgiving enough to not dent the wood.

Here is a typical mouth openning, just enough to let a shaving through. The blade angle on this batch is 52 1/2 degrees so it is designed to plane without tearout on most woods.

Here is a picture with the wedge installed. You can see it is curved which provides two points of contact on the flat underside of the cross pin, this is an important detail which makes sure the blade is held very tightly in place. You'll also notice I've chosen a different wood for the wedge which has much more spring than the very dense Kingwood. This spring is also important in ensuring a tight fitting wedge. The wood I've used here is Lacewood (London Plane) but Oak, Ash and Walnut are all good alternatives.


  1. Hi David,

    Most plane makers would have oriented the grain of the body in the other opposite direction to avoid short grain directly in front of the mouth. Is there a reason why you oriented the grain for this plane the way you did?

    1. Hi, you make a valid point and if I had been making these planes from beech I would definately arranged the grain from front to back. However with wood this dense (about 1.1 sg) and fine grained it really doesn't matter once it is smoothed. I do try to arrange the blanks to be quarter sawn wherever possible in order to minimise cupping of the sole. This again is not normal as most plane makers arranged their planes with the quatered grain on the side, I never understood why! All the best, David.

    2. Hi David,

      (I'm the same person who posted the first comment as but Blogspot for some reason does not want to accept my Wordpress account info. This issue is not isolated to your blog.)

      I have been pondering this point for a few days and have not come up with any reason why many plane makers arrange the grain with quartered grain on the side. From David Finck's book, "Making and Mastering Wooden Planes":

      "I have noted no discernible difference in the performance of planes whether the growth rings (viewed from the end of the blank) are oriented perpendicular, parallel or diagonally to the bottom."

      Moulding planes are a different story and should have quartered grain on the side.


    3. Hi Chris,

      David Finks book gave me the push to starting making planes a few years ago. I had the original black and white version and it fell apart with so much use! I sell his book in the UK as there are no stockists over here.
      Although he states there is no discernable difference in performance the flatness of the sole is diffinately better with the stock quartered on the base. This is especially so in exoctic woods which can take many years to fully dry. I made a 9" smoother in Kingwood about 8 years ago which cupped quite severely with the grain the opposite way.

      All the best,

  2. Hello David!

    Here You are using a chisel to open the mouth instead of a file. I'm sure this is a way more precise method than filing. What about blow out on the other side?

    Kindest regards,

    1. Hi Lukasz, Yes the chisel is much more accurate and quicker than filing, but maybe I need more practice filing! There is not much wood to remove so blow out is not an issue. In any event I round over the inside (with a file) to prevent a shaving trap so any blow out is cleaned up. All the best, David.

    2. Hi David!

      Thanks for your quick reply. I'm currently making my first plane according to Mr. David Fincks book and today I got to the stage of opening the throat. I'm happy, I found your description, because I didn't think filing would good for me at this stage. I used your method with a little modification. I didn't chisel off the line, but gradually depended the knife cut until the waste peeled of. At the bottom of the cut - that is in the inside of the plane - the cut was just a little bit ragged, but a few located swipes with the knife and it's good. I'm sure I had a lot of newbies luck, because only had to do the knifing twice, to get a minute gap :) I have to admit, that this method is very precise and clean, however I find it a little bit of a guessing, in terms of where to place the knife cut, in comparison to the gradual filing method.

      Thanks for your help. I really like your blog and admire the tools You make and think You have a great "sense of business" with the set You offer. One can be only jealous of the beautiful timbers You have access to. I wish in Poland they could be available :)

      Best wishes!

    3. Hi Lukasz, You must send some pictures of the finished plane I will post them on my Blog. All the best, David.