Wooden Smoothing Veritas Bench Plane with Depth Skids/Gauges

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Project by DevinT posted 06-26-2021 09:49 PM 1942 views 2 times favorited 48 comments Add to Favorites Watch


PLANS: See step-by-step instructions on Shaper Hub to make this project with Shaper Origin

DavePolaschek saw me tweeting about hand planes on Twitter. Said, “hey, check out” (or something to that effect) and I started posting projects. Then he said “hey, check out this swap I’m running” (or something to that effect) and I started brainstorming.

I like doing things differently. I was raised to value character in things we build. I strive for perfection, but when I fall short, I value the earlier imperfections as character and move on, creating new and more interesting things. When the chance to make a hand plane (and have some poor sucker suffer the results) presented itself, I knew this was my chance to try something wild and crazy which could kick off something beautiful.

I thought about making a plane entirely out of acrylic.
I thought about making a plane entirely out of stone.

Too many challenges for me to overcome given the amount of time I had for the swap (a little over 2 months). So I continued thinking.

While I know I’ve never seen a hand-plane made out of:

+ glass
+ stone
+ acrylic

It suddenly hit me that I’ve also never seen a plane that incorporated any of those materials either. I started thinking about stone inlay. I started searching for “thumb stones” to inlay into the toe of the plane; somewhere to put your thumb when planing. I got the idea from when I restored a Stanley No 8 and noticed, through painstaking restoration performing an almost-maddening amount of flattening on the sole, that I realized that the placement of one’s thumb on the toe of the plane while jointing an edge can, over much time, create a low-spot in the steel. Since I was making a wooden hand-plane, I thought to bolster that area with something that could withstand the test of time (more-so than wood). Stone seemed to be the answer.

Searching for “thumb stones” led me to find “worry stones” which are stones with a thumb divot. Practically perfect for what I needed them for. However, such stones rarely ever come in perfect rounds and doing an inlay with something other than a circle is more challenging. I wanted something that I could pocket out a circle for and be done-with. No tracing and getting slightly-close—I wanted to get snugged up to the stone with minimal epoxy squeeze-out.

When I exhausted my search for the perfect round worry stone, just as I was losing hope, I discovered something amazing. It turns out that what I really wanted was a cabochon. Cabochons are just variously shaped ingots of natural stones, gems, or other precious materials. They are often put into a setting and worn as pendants on things like necklaces and bracelets. However, here’s the key:

While not all cabochons are round, a great many are.

It gets even better:

40 mm round is a standard size in the cabochon world. 40 mm round stones, 40 mm round gems, 40 mm round pendants to hold the stones/gems, whatever. 40 mm round is a very easy thing to come by on eBay and they are not expensive

You just have to be patient with shipping. They usually come from places like India, Indonesia, China, etc. and take weeks to arrive.

I started amassing a collection of 40 mm round cabochons. I made sure that every single one that I bought rated at MOHS hardness 6-7 or greater because I want the stone to last a lifetime and remain scratch-free.

The idea of the CAB40 hand plane was born.

I began researching for days-on-end if I could find any examples of anyone doing stone inlay on a hand plane. Nothing. Not a single example. It was brass inlay in wood or wood inlay in steel (an infill plane). That’s pretty much it when it comes to categories of materials used for inlay in wooden planes. This saddened me while making me very excited that the prospective idea was a winning one.

Next came the issue of where to get the adjuster. I would sooner drop out of the swap at an early stage than ship a plane without an adjuster. Acquiring an adjuster, just a single one—let alone many for a serious run given the amount of cabochons that I purchased—proved exceedingly difficult.

If it were not for Dave P. offering me his one and only Lee Veritas kit, my only other option was a Norris kit from St. James Bay Tool Co, which made me nervous because I didn’t know if I could succeed in learning how to peen AND ship something quality on-time. Doing an infill was a bit beyond what I wanted to take-on at the moment. I felt confident that I could put a Veritas kit plane together, no problem.

ASIDE: My confidence in the ability to utilize the Veritas kit was largely based on the fact I had 2 months at my disposal and I have a Shaper Origin.

I wasn’t readily accepting of Dave’s kit though. I wanted to make a Jack plane (because I don’t own one). That fell through because I couldn’t find any non-infill kits with adjusters that had the right size blade.

I split the difference and took Dave’s kit and would make a 9.5” smoother out of it. That’s larger than the plane Lee Valley suggests you can make with their kit with a 1.6”-wide blade, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to make a block plane (because since the beginning, I knew one thing—I was going to put 1/4-20 threaded inserts in the sides so that I could attach depth skids, a fence, a nicker, a handle, whatever it needs/wants; and a block plane was not going to be very accommodating to accessories).

ASIDE: Yeah, I know BCT makes a thicknessing plane with depth skids. The HP-12 is much more useful in my opinion than their tiny little HP-8.

Of course, wanting to make more than one, I was SOL. Lee Valley wasn’t shipping anything I needed at the time. I did purchase a kit to build myself this plane after the swap. I ordered that in April and it is set to arrive July 2.

EDIT: It didn’t arrive until September (almost 6 months after order).

ASIDE: After I make myself this plane with the same kit, I’m going to switch over to using HNT Gordon blades with my own adjuster that I designed and am having manufactured (by the same guy that turns knobs for Ron Rock). I was just so stressed-out trying to get the dang adjuster, I realize that what I have to do is make my own, from scratch. I also know that it has been hard shipping and manufacturing for not-just Lee Valley but many folks during the pandemic, so it’s possible that I might base more planes off the Veritas kit, but the fact that I had to go around Lee Valley to get one and have to wait almost 10 weeks (and counting) for one from them directly has really left me with a desire to become self-sustaining in the production of hand planes.

So that’s the back-story. Let’s get on to the photos (because there are many)

EDIT: For video, see link at the top of the page

Made out of wood, steel, brass, and stone

2 different kinds of wood, 4 different kinds of steel, 2 different kinds of brass, and a unique stone

Black Walnut and Hard (curly) Maple with a hint of tiger stripes

It has a pair of removable depth skids which have rulers engraved inside to act as depth gauges. Turning this smoothing plane into a ~2” thicknessing plane

ASIDE: You do not have to remove the socket cap screws to install/remove the depth skids. An 1/8th of a turn and they are unlocked from their position where they can be raised and slotted over to a hole that the cap screw head fits through. I originally planned on also making an edge-jointing fence that would sit right in front of the blade to help you “feel plumb” to get a perfect 90 on those edges. However, I decided to skip that for this swap. The fence would have had the same style allowing you to install/remove without fully unthreading the bolts. This was to allow the bolts to stay installed permanently and when needed can allow swapping in/out accessories very quickly.

9.5” long, this smoothing plane uses a 1.6” wide PM-V11 Veritas blade from
@LeeValleyTools complete with Norris adjuster and even blade set screws for keeping the blade aligned

ASIDE: There is a wide enough counter-bore around the threaded inserts to allow for a standard-size hex nut to snug-up to the threaded insert without touching the wood. This allows you to lock a nut to the face of the insert for making offset accessories. The threaded inserts are epoxied into the wood to make them secure. There is a 1/4” hole passing between each threaded insert which allows you to pass a fully threaded rod into one insert and out of the other. This is possible because the threaded inserts are fully thread-matched into the wood with each other. Finally, the inserts are sunk below the surface of the cheeks to ensure that you can use the plane on a shooting board. The sides are squared with the sole for this purpose as-well. A handle with 1/4-20 male stem can be installed to any of the 4 threaded inserts to make use on the shooting board easier.

The bevel-down blade is sandwiched between a lever cap and the Norris adjuster

The blade is 4.5” long, 1.6” wide, 1/8” thick high carbon steel quenched by powder metallurgy and protrudes out of a narrow slit in the mouth with less than 0.01” of clearance for the finest of shavings

I used a 3/4” ball router bit from Canada to make the contours for your fingers/thumbs

A 3” wide 1/4” round brass cross pin was cut to length and made flush with the wood which was dimensioned entirely by hand

ASIDE: This is NOT the cross-pin that Lee Valley gives you in their Veritas wooden plane kit. I had to cut/shape my own because the one provided in the kit is not long enough. I used Dave P’s advice on how to epoxy the rod into place.

The fine embellishments are a 40 mm round cabochon of Bauxite Jasper (Bauxite being the principle component to Aluminum, appearing as the dark brown spot in the center of the stone), and gold/black accented engravings

ASIDE: Epoxy didn’t flow as I had expected when I pressed the stone into the pocket. I had to use a pointed Q-tip and “float” some epoxy around the stone and then 91% isopropyl to clean up the excess epoxy on the wood/stone. That worked quite well to fill minor gaps between the edge of the pocket and stone.


ASIDE: Everything that can be removed is removed for this photo.

And here is without any of the moving parts. All moving parts removed.

The blade sits on a bushing provided by the Norris adjuster

All this got shipped off to Eric as part of the 2021 Plane Swap run by

For added fun, I shipped the plane in a box 5x larger than the plane itself and packed it full of shavings (that I produced from making the plane itself)

To top it all off, I threw in 25 pages of documentation typed on a vintage 1982 IBM Selectric typewriter (using the Letter Gothic font ball).

ASIDE: There were typing mistakes and I hand-corrected them for a sense of personal touch. I also included printed diagrams of the plane that were used to make it with Shaper Origin.

So, how did I create it? I will create some video which shows some of the novel approaches that got the results I wanted, but that will take some time. Until then, here are static images of the SVG files that I used with the Shaper Origin.

EDIT: For video, see link at the top of the page

First, I mocked up every aspect in 2D using Inkscape.

You can make my hand plane from 4 pieces of wood, 6 pieces, 12, 100, or more. The secret is the 0.246” hole in the body. Also note that to save wood, I flipped one of the pieces upside down so I could push the toe closer to the heel

After the toe/heel pieces have been cut (however many of them you need in order to reach the required thickness), you have to flip them over and cut “glue channels” around the alignment hole to prevent glue from flowing over the threads of threaded rod used for assembly

Like the toe/heel, I also save wood when I cut the depth skids by cutting them at the same time

After I cut out the depth skids, I have to flip them over and engrave the ruler and “R” vs “L” on the inside

On the sides of the plane we have 3/4” ball contours for your fingers/thumbs, we have 0.246” holes to snugly accept a 1/4” threaded rod, a 0.265” hole for embedment nuts (so we can put set screws on either side of the blade to center it), and a 1/4” hole for the cross pin

After the plane is assembled, I then widen the alignment holes to accept 1/4-20 threaded inserts

Then comes time to cut the lever cap which is designed to allow you to drop it into the blade cavity and have it stop and automatically center itself against the cross pin (versus a wedge-style lever cap which does not center itself automatically by gravity alone)

After I cut the lever cap, I have to flip it over to counter-bore for the insert that comes with the Veritas wooden plane kit

Process of creating a position for the stone is simple. I modeled what the completed plane looks like, positioned where I wanted the stone, made some notes to myself about depth and offsets, gridded to the corner of the completed plane and made the pocket with Origin

Making the necessary pockets for the Norris adjuster with Shaper Origin is a snap

But it was the front of the plane that took most of the work. I tested lots of engravings to get these settings and played with many designs before settling on this one

I even went so far as to model the plane blade in exact dimensions, down to 0.0005” accuracy, including radii

It was Inkscapes excellent “Simplify” path effect that made assembling all the cursive quite pleasurable. Definitely recommend using that path effect. It does an amazing job of automatically smoothing your paths for you

I am contemplating putting up a “lite” version of this plane (with fewer accents) on Shaper Hub if people express enough interest.

EDIT: I have posted a lite version on the Shaper Hub

-- Devin, SF, CA

48 comments so far

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

4071 posts in 3489 days

#1 posted 06-26-2021 10:21 PM

Dang, Devin! Nice use of different materials to create that gorgeous hand plane. Kinda makes me sad that I didn’t register for this swap.

Good job on the documentation and write up too.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8405 posts in 1819 days

#2 posted 06-26-2021 10:26 PM

Very nice work, Devin, and one heckuva rookie effort. I was worried at the amount of work you were biting off, but you pulled it off and came up with a great plane. Well done!

So, do we have to have a other plane swap next year so you can do V2? ;-)

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View JRsgarage's profile


410 posts in 1747 days

#3 posted 06-26-2021 10:30 PM

Wow. Amazing work!

-- “Facts don't care about your feelings.” ..., Ben Shapiro

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


7930 posts in 2625 days

#4 posted 06-26-2021 10:38 PM

Very cool. I could see how much you enjoyed making it.

Once you produce the video, you should try to get Shaper Origin to sponsor it! It would be quite a sales pitch. I haven’t seen anyone else do something like this with it before.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View KelleyCrafts's profile


4610 posts in 1976 days

#5 posted 06-26-2021 10:48 PM

Looks great. Curious why you needed the ball bit for the 3/4” grooves? Why not just a round over bit? Your not an idiot so I’m sure you had a reason. Maybe it’s so simple I’m missing it?

Also the notches at the top of the throat toward the toe….I’m missing something again? I probably missed a caption somewhere in the post amongst the pics.

Either way this is well done, a serious offering for this swap. Great job Devin.

-- Dave - - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View Eric's profile


1885 posts in 1110 days

#6 posted 06-26-2021 10:54 PM

Very nicely done Devin, wonderful Craftsmanship. And as that Rockie, you have done well, and slot of work went into this. The instruction manual was a nice little addition too. Thank you.

-- Eric, building the dream

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


7930 posts in 2625 days

#7 posted 06-26-2021 11:02 PM

Looks great. Curious why you needed the ball bit for the 3/4” grooves? Why not just a round over bit?

- KelleyCrafts

Core Box Bit?

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View pottz's profile (online now)


20555 posts in 2222 days

#8 posted 06-26-2021 11:49 PM

wow you are amazing,i dont know enough words too describe this,it’s not just a plane it’s a work of art.all i can say is eric is one lucky lj getting not sure if anyone is gonna top this creation,truly over top craftsmanship.remind me to get in the next swap your in,maybe ill get you.once again devin just beautiful.

ps-you finally did a project with more pic’s and description than the duck-lol.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View DevinT's profile (online now)


1878 posts in 204 days

#9 posted 06-26-2021 11:53 PM

The first version had an integrated knob that I was going to extrude out of an oversized toe block by running the ball router bit adjacent to the circle I routed out using a straight bit.

Below you can see the knob after I routed it into a circle

Below you can see what happens when you panic and hit the escape button mid-cut and the CNC retracts the ball straight up through the wood. The whole machine tilted and wood went flying in all directions (but the piece stayed down and, more importantly, nobody got hurt).

There was a lot of fear going into that cut to begin with. My panic was associated with smell. It was a very calculated cut with only very small fractions of an inch between the collet and the top of the knob. I thought I smelled something burning (I didn’t) and thought the collet had made contact with the top of the knob (it did not) and my instinctual reaction was to abort (which I had trained myself on the cut several several times without wood trying to train myself NOT to abort this cut because this cut had the top of the ball submerged below the top of the wood (trying to make a contour entirely around the tower to turn it into a knob). My training failed me. For all the effort I put into trying to make that cut safely while fighting any instincts to abort for any reason whatsoever, I couldn’t over come instincts.

I can say this however. I made 2 passes successfully and the knob was actually looking quite nice. It was the 3rd pass where things went screwy. It was mostly inexperience with the bit. I have more experience with the bit now and would be more confident making the cut, but what I decided to do in the effort of time to make the swap (in other words, not start over since that was hand-dimensioned lumber that had already been cut once with the CNC and assembled and then engraved twice, infilled, coated, and had initial shaping on the knob; there was not enough time to do that again).

So, I cut the knob off and designed a new hand plane that was very similar (my plan B) that had no knob and that actually worked out better

-- Devin, SF, CA

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


7930 posts in 2625 days

#10 posted 06-26-2021 11:58 PM

That might have been worked by using a guide bushing (with or without a template) without the computerized control.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View DevinT's profile (online now)


1878 posts in 204 days

#11 posted 06-27-2021 12:01 AM

You will notice in the above photos that there are no funny holes in the front of the blade (in the shaving escapement). Those wholes are glue channels that were revealed when I changed the shape and design after having to overcome the failed knob.

You see, the plane has inner glue channels (left over from the first version design) which are 1/16” from all edges and 1/16” deep, made with a 1/8” router bit. This made glue-up extremely easy and not-messy with zero follow-up. I spread the glue everywhere, right up to the edge of the glue channel and then slam the pieces together using the alignment holes which fit a 1/4” threaded rod like a glove (at 0.246” diameter).

The glue channels prevent glue from getting into the alignment holes where the threaded rod is during assembly. I removed all glue channels in the second version of the SVGs except for the ones around that hole, however the prototype plane that Eric received had more glue channels (not present in the SVGs).

I am of mixed feelings on the glue channels toward the edge of the plane. In one instance it looks really nice on the sole of the plane where I have a perfect mating without any glue. In some spots there is a few lines thinner than the width of a human hair that are still visible to me. If I let the glue go all the way to the ends (though keeping the glue channels around the alignment holes for practical purposes) then those tiny gaps will not exist. Surely I have discretion as to whether to use them in my next plane or not. The only reason they became visible in the prototype is because I had to change designs which involved surfacing past the recessed area made by the ball bit to make a flat surface for the stone lower.

ASIDE: I think that actually worked out better. It gave me a “palm horn” which does double-duty of giving you a place to push/steer from as well as protects the stone from damage if the plane is dropped or knocked off a bench/boat.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View DevinT's profile (online now)


1878 posts in 204 days

#12 posted 06-27-2021 12:03 AM

The guide bushing wouldn’t have worked. The tolerances required to pull that cut off were very very tight. And I did pull it off. Twice. And I know I can pull it off again. I simply just was a goofball and for a split second thought “is that burning smell” and instinctively hit the Orange button and immediately thought “SH~” as wood went flying and I was sad for several minutes.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View DevinT's profile (online now)


1878 posts in 204 days

#13 posted 06-27-2021 12:04 AM

Very nicely done Devin, wonderful Craftsmanship. And as that Rockie, you have done well, and slot of work went into this. The instruction manual was a nice little addition too. Thank you.

- Eric

Thank you Eric. That means a lot coming from my recipient.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View DevinT's profile (online now)


1878 posts in 204 days

#14 posted 06-27-2021 12:06 AM

wow you are amazing,i dont know enough words too describe this,it s not just a plane it s a work of art.all i can say is eric is one lucky lj getting not sure if anyone is gonna top this creation,truly over top craftsmanship.remind me to get in the next swap your in,maybe ill get you.once again devin just beautiful.

ps-you finally did a project with more pic s and description than the duck-lol.

- pottz

Thank you so much. It makes me very happy to share something I loved creating. It also makes me very happy knowing that Eric got something that (hopefully) he values as much as what he put time into.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View Eric's profile


1885 posts in 1110 days

#15 posted 06-27-2021 12:21 AM

Seems like I remember you mentioning something about glue channels during your build. That did not register until you just mentioned it. To me it looks natural in the position of the body.

And the bonus item with the runners attached to the side are going be very useful as a small parts thickness planer in some of my future builds.

And I am sure it will be used for others too. I have a boat project in the future also. Said reasoning for my shop build last year.

-- Eric, building the dream

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