Building a Moving Fillister Plane #1: Precursor and laminating the body

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Blog entry by Wally331 posted 06-12-2014 10:46 PM 12589 reads 20 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building a Moving Fillister Plane series Part 2: Boxing, Depth Stop, Fence and even a nicker »


I’ve been using a lot of wooden planes recently and have really come to enjoy their lightness and the feel of wood sliding on wood. Obviously there are a ton of vintage woodies out there; however, I quite enjoy making my own versions of them. They are a lot cheaper (if you have some time on your hands) and you don’t have to deal with old warped wood and a host of other problems you may encounter. I can’t say I am an expert by any means, I’m simply sharing my experience and hoping to pass some knowledge along to you. This series is going to be fairly long because it is so involved and there are many steps, but I promise to make it as interesting as possible ;) I have left out some small details and accompanying pictures just to reduce how long this series will be, if you have any questions feel free to ask!

Method to my madness-

Anyways, with my two smoothers and rabbet/moulding planes working so well, I decided that something a bit more complex was in order. I’ve been eyeing up a moving fillister for awhile now and figured it would be cool to build. They seem to be an extremely quick, efficient, and clean plane to use. They are also extremely versatile and don’t appear to be terribly difficult to make.

To simplify construction I opted to laminate my plane. I’m not sure if this have ever been done before but it worked extremely well for me and it’s so easy anyone can do it and come out with a spectacular plane. I’d call this method sort of a hybrid krenov style plane.
I think that a short pro’s list is in order to see why I am laminating the plane rather then making it from a solid block.

Pros Simplified construction No special tool required Superior wedge fitting for amateurs possibly more stable then a solid block
Cons Glue lines the laminations may eventually fail

The pros of my method definitely outweigh the cons as far as I am concerned. I will probably be long dead before the glue lines fail and any visible glue lines will eventually blend in with use. With all that said, its time to start building the plane.

Part 1. The Body

I started off with a decent sized piece of cherry, about 3.5 in. square and 10 in. long. This was a table leg blank and is perfectly quartersawn. Stock selection is one of the most important parts of this build so pay close attention here. The blank must be quartersawn, straight grained, and as defect free as possible. Any hardwood will do fine really. Also just as a note, the blade I am using is a Lie-Nielsen 1 and 5/8 in. tapered moulding plane blank.

I laid out the angles of the mouth and the skew- bedded at 45 degrees with a 20 degree skew. This is probably the most common set of angles on vintage planes so I saw no reason to stray from them. The old-timers knew whats up. I also laid out the general locations and widths of the rabbets on either side of the body. I believe these are mainly to reduce weight and make holding it more comfortable.

With the general layout done I sliced a side off ~.5 in thick and proceeded to flatten and smooth it. This will make up the non-escapement side of the plane.

The next part is the center of the plane- These pieces go on either side of the blade and wedge. The back piece is what the blade beds on, and the front is what the wedge beds on. Once again, rip a slice off of your blank either with a bandsaw or tablesaw. These should be a bit wider then the tang of your blade. Shoot for about and 1/8 in. thicker then your tang. By the time you have flattened and smoothed the slice you will be almost perfect.

The final piece is the escapement side. This also houses the cross-grain nicker, depth stop, and makes up the majority of the bed. This slice is at wide as the blade minus the tang. In my case about and inch and an eigth.

Right now you essentially have three slices of wood. The next step is to cut the bed and escapement. Set the non-escapement piece aside as it is not needed for this step. In order to make sure that the middle pieces and escapement have the exact same angles I advise screwing the other two pieces together. Two screws about an inch in at either side will work fine. Double stick tape is probably even better. At the table saw, tilt your blade to 45 degrees, and set your miter gauge to 20 degrees. Make sure your skew layout lines match up, aswell as your bed angle. The blade should be raised up to the hand-hold rabbets. Make one cut at this angle through both pieces forming the bed and then change the blade tilt by 12 degrees to form the front of the mouth.

From there you can unscrew the two pieces. The next step is to finish the cuts in the middle block. Keep the blade at the same angles and cut just shy of the line. Then go in with a block plane and trim then up. You must not change the skew angle, or crown the bed. Use the part that the tablesaw cut to register a plane or chisel back so that these are perfecty flat and skewed at 20 degrees.

Your plane is now 4 parts consisting of a non-escapement side sidewall, the bed slice, front of the mouth slice, and the escapement side sidewall. At this point in time you can glue the bed and mouth slices into the escapement sidewall. This is one of the most important steps of all. During the glue up you have to ensure that the angles line up perfectly with each other. Check multiple time to see that your clamps didn’t slip. The bed is more important to the planes function that the mouth, so really do your best to get them lined up

Now before you glue the non-escapement side on, you can make and fit the wedge. The wedge is 12 degrees if you followed the above, but otherwise the small cutoff that you have from separating the bed and mouth will tell you the exact angle. Cut it out from a piece of scrap, and then with a sliding bevel set to 20 degrees, plane the top and bottom of your wedge until they are exactly bang on at 20 degrees, with the correct taper over its length. keep fitting the wedge until there are no gaps and it sits very tightly with hand pressure. This step is so much easier with the laminations because you can actually see the wedge for a perfect fit. No floats needed!

Plane the wedge just a few thousands thinner then the center sections and go ahead and glue the other side on. You now have basically have a perfectly cut mortise, skewed at 20 degrees and a good flat bed to match. Perfectly fitting wedge and no special tool required. You can now cut those handhold rabbets and chamfer the edges to your hearts desire.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for part two which will include adding boxing, the nicker, depth stop, and maybe the fence if your lucky ;) If you have any questions just post em and I will do my best to answer.

4 comments so far

View rodk1's profile


15 posts in 4070 days

#1 posted 06-13-2014 02:55 AM

I’m very interested in this ! Thanks a lot for sharing this with us, I’m so looking forward to it.

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 2781 days

#2 posted 06-13-2014 03:32 AM

A beautiful build, and you make it seem so easy. I suspect I might curse. :-)

Thanks for sharing this! Truly impressive plane.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View grfrazee's profile


388 posts in 3052 days

#3 posted 06-13-2014 01:20 PM

Looking good, Chris. I recently picked up a set of NOS plow plane blades that I want to turn into a woodie plow, and this blog will be a big help when it comes to building mine.


View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4064 days

#4 posted 06-13-2014 05:55 PM

I’m officially impressed! this thing is bad aas! I wont one!.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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