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Lately I've really been getting into hand tools.

Lately I've really been getting into hand tools.

I asked for a few Japanese chisels for Christmas (one each from a few different people in the family.) I ended up with a set of four from Woodcraft. I decided that this collection was worthy of family heirloom status so I had them laser engraved and built a box to keep them in.

I have always had a fascination with Japanese culture, art and woodworking. Lately I have been reading Japanese Woodworking Tools, Their Tradition, Spirit and Use by Toshio Odate. This is a truly eye-opening book and I highly recommend it to every woodworker. I've also really enjoyed a book called Selecting and Using Hand Tools by Fine Woodworking.

So the natural progression from owning such a beautiful set of chisels lead me to coming up with a way to keep them sharp… which is how I ended up with a WorkSharp. And let me tell you, this is an amazing little machine. I know there are lots of ways to put a razer edge on a tool, but this thing makes it EASY. Which means my tools will ALWAYS be sharp. Its one of the best investments I've made in my shop in a long time.

So armed with the WorkSharp, I spent one afternoon grinding, sharpening and honing ALL my hand tools. And it suddenly occurred to me… wow… I've never worked with sharp tools before!

Dangerously sharp edge on a chisel from the WorkSharp:

I've always used chisels and planes and the occasional "Shark Saw" (Japanese-style saw from Big Box store) among other hand tools. But my first hand tool epiphany came when I first learned how to dress and use a cabinet scraper, and I was HOOKED. It really changed how I work… no more power sander (for the most part).

But my chisels and planes had been causing me a lot of frustration until now, because it was so tedious to sharpen them that I simply never took the time to do it. Now all of my planes sing like Billie Holiday.

The more I read Odate's book as well as watch videos online, etc, the more I have become addicted to Japanese hand tools. Its a terrible, expensive addiction, but I don't think I can shake it. I've been window-shopping online today on ebay and sites like The Japan Woodworker. I've got my eye on a Dozuki (dovetail saw) next… but that will have to wait a few months 'till my birthday ;)

But its not just Japanese hand tools that has got me excited lately. Its ALL hand tools. It just so happens that I work at a used tool store (dangerous, I know). So my collection is always growing.

This is my plane cabinet. The bottom shelf is the currently usable planes, and the next shelf up contains some that either need to be restored, or purely collectibles (like the brightly colored vintage "student" planes).

From left to right:
  • Modern (cheap) Stanley that I use for utility purposes like door jams or construction
  • Millers Falls No 56B (Favorite block plane)
  • Record No 077 rabbet/bullnose (Other favorite plane)
  • Stanley Bullnose plane with SweetHeart blade
  • Little Stanley "finger" plane (as I call it) with SweetHeart blade

From front to back:
  • Stanley No. 4 with SweetHeart blade
  • Stanley Bailey No. 5
  • Stanley Bailey No. 6

So in my excitement over hand tools lately, I have really been in the mood to make my own planes. I have really been inspired by some of the handmade tools by other Lumberjocks too. It doesn't seem like a very complicated project, but very rewarding (and a great way to use up scraps as well.)

So I have been thinking about where to get blades from. I hate Ebay, and I really didn't want to spent $40 bucks each for "Hock" blades from a catalog. So I had an idea, let me know what you think. I have a small collection of old wood planes that were inherited from a family-friend. Although I appreciate the history and like looking at them, they are in poor enough condition to where I would never use them.

Example of poor condition:

Some of these wooden planes appear to be handmade. The only plane with any marks on the wooden body is this one which (I think) reads "196 W.SCHNEHOER AVE. NY"

(Note the seemingly-missing handle next to the saw marks… it was probably cut off after breaking)

Anyway, my idea is to keep the wooden plane collection but give the blades a new lease on life by using them to make my new hand-made planes. Or would it just be too sad to "rob" these elders of their irons? What do you think?

The blades are very rusty and would need a lot of work but I would end up with a great variety for my new planes. The man who owned the old wooden planes was a boat builder. So among the collection is a concave plane, a convex plane, and a couple different sizes of straight blades. It would be an interesting challenge to build all of the different plane shapes.
Go for it, Blakester! The process of making your own hand planes can be a lot of fun. Also, you can set angles of attack for appropriate hardwoods, i.e. 50, 55 or even 90 degrees. While I don't know just how bad your old blades are, you at least want clean smooth backs without pitting to be able to get the best use and life from them. I've used and am still using old Stanley blades, Hocks and L-Ns. The newer blades are better to be sure BUT the older ones like from the wooden planes are usually tapered and much much thicker on the business end than anything made by Hock, Clifton, L-N or Veritas. I've even gone so far as to collect old tapered blades that are restorable from flea markets and even eBay.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.


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My first Krenov Style Plane

I made my first plane!

I used the blade from one of those old wooden planes I had. As you can see I had a variety of these old planes with different style blades. Straight, concave, and a couple different radii of convex blades:

Here are some progress photos…

Making the Body:

I started out with a block of Koa that I got on our honeymoon in Kauai, Hawaii.

Look, two plane bodies!

I used the width of the blade as a guide to cut my block into slabs.

I am basing my design from instructions in various books from James Krenov. Here I am checking and drawing the angles for the mouth:

And cut them on the bandsaw:

I had to run one of the triangle pieces on my router table to create the space for the screw that holds chip breaker on to the iron.

Making the Pin:

Now, I don't have a lathe. So I had to get creative to make the round ends of the pin. I used a plug cutting bit on my drill press. I think this would be faster and easier than a lathe anyway. This ensures that both ends are the same and I know that they are exactly 1/2" so I can use a 1/2" drill bit to drill the holes.

I finished shaping the pin (rounding over the top) with a chisel.

Finally I glued it up:

Here is the glued up body:

I ran the plane upside-down through my thickness sander to carefully flatten the sole and open the throat until it was just right:

Shaping the body:

I first rough cut the basic shape on the bandsaw:

And after a lot of hand shaping I ended up with this:

The blade:

Sorry, I didn't take photos of the blade shaping process. but I cut the blade and chip breaker shorter, shaped it on the disk sander, and sharpened it on my WorkSharp.

And HERE is the finished project:

Schweeeeeet!!! Very nice indeed and it works too! Gotta love that. I've been to Kauai too, north shore, great time BUT all I came back with was a dent in my wallet and a river rock to use as a doorstop. Go figure. Anyway, Blake, now you're toast. You've developed the ability to roll your own and you will, bubba… you will. Bravo.


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Stanley No. 62 Low Angle Jack

Stanley No. 62 Low Angle Jack Plane

Some of the modern high end hand tool manufacturers have been marketing "low angle jack planes" for years now like it is something nobody has ever thought of before. I mean, I had never heard of a low angle jack before I started reading reviews on Lie Nielson and Veritas versions in Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Veritas Low Angle Jack Plane:

And of course we all know that Stanley, the most famous maker of quality hand tools has SERIOUSLY BLOWN IT in the last several decades by manufacturing nothing but crap and letting other companies pick up where they left off. It took them long enough to realize what they had missed out on, and in 2009 they finally released a line of hand planes to compete with Lie Nielson and Veritas (among others)... the nostalgically-named "Sweetheart" line.

2009 Stanley No. 62 "Sweetheart" Low Angle Jack Plane:

Well I found out about a great website called The Best Things from another LJ post (sorry, I forget who). When I was browsing this website I saw a beautiful vintage Stanley plane that I had never hear of before. The Stanley No. 62 Low Angle Jack Plane.

When I saw this picture I couldn't help getting excited. What a cool plane. I mean, a low angle jack is just kind of a sexy (not to mention useful) addition to a collection of hand planes. And realizing that the original VINTAGE thing was out there, and that they were somewhat RARE… I just had to have one.

Here's where working in a used tool store comes in handy… this came in to our shop the next day:

P1010006 1


P1010007 1

P1010008 1

Now I know it know it will be a lot of work… tons of rust and a broken tote… but I think this will be a FUN project.

Now if you don't know about Patrick's Blood and Gore, its the best resource on the internet for information about Stanley planes. Anyway, according to Patrick, the Stanley No. 62 is "one of Stanley's better planes they ever decided to manufacture."

He also notes that "the mouth often chips, especially in the area behind the cutter. You can flip over ten of these plane, and eight of them will be chipped, one will not be chipped but repaired, and the last perfect."

Well, besides the rust and cracked wood, this thing is COMPLETE and PERFECT. No chips or breaks (so I guess it's number ten.)

I've always wanted to try one of those "electrolysis bath" things that I've seen other people do on the internet. I think this would be the perfect candidate. I will also need to make a new tote and knob. I'll keep you posted on the process and I'm sure I'll have questions along the way.
Once cleaned and tuned it will prove itself a thing of beauty ESPECIALLY on end grain and wild grain. I've opted for another blade ground at a higher "included" angle of 55 degrees.

Bon voyage, mon ami!


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Bench Almost Complete

More bench progress…

Here is the "tail" vice mortised into the end of the bench. You can also see how the underside of the bench looks with all the different widths I used:


Clamping on the wider "apron" pieces front and back:


And adding the end aprons with dowels:





As you can see I painted the 4×6 fir base black:


I leveled the table with shims under the feet and then bolted the legs to the floor:

And then the fun part began…



I routed the edges of my vice jaws on the router table:



The vices came out really nicely. I made the tail vice so it would span across the entire width of the bench. That way I could have bench dogs along both edges of the bench for wide clamping.



Nearly complete… now all I have to do is add the dog holes, and a little sanding/finishing. I actually made it to the Sacramento Woodworking Show on Sunday and picked up some brass Veritas bench dogs.


I think it looks really good with the black base.


(See all the shavings on the floor!)


Here are the links to the finished bench and cabinet in my projects:

What a great little bench, bubba. Very nicely conceived and done. Bravo.

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