Four new infill hand planes

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Project by JuanVergara posted 06-29-2016 03:39 PM 3754 views 4 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello, fellow lumberjocks – Haven’t posted here for a while but wanted folks to know that if they plan to attend the Lie-Nielsen open house in Maine next week, I’ll be there as a guest demonstrator with the four infill hand planes in these photos on hand to play with, and I’d love to say hello face to face.

The planes are kissing cousin No. 3 infills – two in ebony, two in rosewood. One in each pair has a more or less traditional knob, the other the bun that until now has either graced or disgraced my planes – the “gasping fish” mouth, as some wag once said.

These planes work well – as they durn well ought, since I’ve been sweating the details on these babies for the last two months plus.

The third photo shows the surface produced by one of these planes on black locust, which, if you don’t know it, is one tough wood. The fourth photo shows the same plane working the wood against the grain.

If you’re anywhere in New England the weekend after July 4, get yourself to Warren, Maine, headquarters of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, and come see me.

-- Juan Vergara, California,

9 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17268 posts in 3668 days

#1 posted 06-29-2016 03:44 PM

Absolutely stunning… Wish I could get to Maine and try them out!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View bobasaurus's profile


3713 posts in 4233 days

#2 posted 06-29-2016 08:55 PM

Fantastic work as always, Juan. While your “gasping fish” may look non-traditional, I’ll bet it’s comfy to hold. I love the details on the lever cap. Are the sides dovetailed to the sole? Why make the bed so short? It looks like the levercap screw is over an unsupported area of the blade (no bed behind it).

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View WhoMe's profile


1568 posts in 4293 days

#3 posted 06-30-2016 02:02 AM

Do my eyes deceive me or are the planes with the more traditional knob sporting a higher bed/frog angle.
And I don’t know about a gaping fish but I see a wave on the nose of the back planes. Hawaiian planes maybe?
Looks like amazing craftsmanship any way you look at them.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1464 posts in 2683 days

#4 posted 06-30-2016 02:57 AM

beautiful as always.

-- Jeff NJ

View JuanVergara's profile


25 posts in 2498 days

#5 posted 06-30-2016 03:02 AM

Smitty – Don’t know where you live, but it could hardly be farther away from Warren, Maine, than Santa Maria, CA, where I live – a 5+ hour trip to Boston in a jet with seats made for people half my size, followed by some three hours in a rental car. Take me now, Lord. I’m ready.

Allen – There is a method to my madness in designing the fish-mouth bun. My theory is that you gain additional control over what the plane is doing because, with your fingers wrapped around and into the bun, you can lift the front end of the plane up, push it down, and push it forward.

The sides are indeed dovetailed into the base – and pinned as well.

As for the short bed, I do confess to taking risks with the design of the tote, but my theory is that the bulk of the iron – A-2 tool steel 1/4 inch thick and about 5 inches long – and the positioning of the lever cap work strongly against the possibility that the iron will flex. I’d re-think all this if I used a thinner iron. Then again, if I did that, I’d have to give up the cyma-like sweep of the big curve right behind the blade.

Mike – Your eyes don’t deceive you. The irons in the planes with knobs are bedded at 50 degrees, the other two at 45.

Ah, Hawaii. You go there to learn what the word balmy means, right? My wife and I went there to celebrate a birthday – hers, and never mind which one it was. But no, I doubt that there’s anything Hawaiian in my planes.

Many thanks to you and Allen and Smitty for the kind words.

-- Juan Vergara, California,

View smitdog's profile


469 posts in 3155 days

#6 posted 06-30-2016 01:44 PM

Wow, such beautiful planes! Excellent craftsmanship Juan.

my theory is that the bulk of the iron – A-2 tool steel 1/4 inch thick and about 5 inches long
“Bulky” iron is an understatement, you could darn near iron with that iron!

Good catch Mike, I chalked it up to a perspective thing automatically when I looked at the pics first time, never even noticed it, but after you said that and I looked again I could see it.

-- Jarrett - Mount Vernon, Ohio

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 4848 days

#7 posted 07-02-2016 02:33 PM

Love the design and details. I’m guessing you have to tap it with a plane setting hammer to advance and retract the iron? Why not peruse a Norris style adjuster. Nice ones can be had so you wouldn’t have to fabricate. Or would that be anathema?

Anyway, beautiful work and they look like they perform. Love the hungry fish tote too.

-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View JuanVergara's profile


25 posts in 2498 days

#8 posted 07-03-2016 02:47 AM

Jcees—Right. You adjust the depth with a tap on the sneck, up or down. Ditto left and right.

I stopped using Norris-style adjusters some time back in part because it’s easy to strip the threads, rendering the adjuster not only useless but indeed an impediment to fixing the cut of the iron.

That, in any event, was what I told myself. The bald truth is something else – namely that I’d have to do away with the cyma-like sweep of the tote in order to keep the whole upper part of the adjuster, bereft of support, from flapping away in the breeze behind the iron. There’s something in the relations of the curves in a true cyma that really beguiles me; I lie awake in the night seeing cyma curves with the mind’s eye and wondering excitedly whether I will ever find the one that satisfies my curiosity.

Anyway, many thanks for the kind words.

-- Juan Vergara, California,

View JuanVergara's profile


25 posts in 2498 days

#9 posted 07-03-2016 03:21 AM

Jcees et alia – I meant to add that a cyma – a sort of “S” curve of which the ogee is one example – is an element of design seen in architecture since the time of the Greeks. In a true cyma the relations of the radii of the arcs (or in the alternative, in the chords connecting the terminal points of the arcs) reflect specific proportions, some of which please the eye more than others.

That sounds like gobbledygook, I know. But there is something in the sweep of a cyma curve that really does appeal to the eye – a mysterious appeal like that of a rectangle whose proportions reflect the golden mean.

-- Juan Vergara, California,

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