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In Defense of the European Beech Plane...

7184 Views 39 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  terryR
Well.. I don't have too much to say about those silly looking Euro Horned planes… except, after tinkering with a few, man these things can really cut!
A friend asked me to plane his coffee-table sized slab of burly Redwood, so he could make the Epic cribbage board.
I decided to put my Euros to the test, one was already set up as a cross cut scrub and it worked amazingly well! So I went down the line, a touch on the stones and paper and gave each a test run.
Photo #1:

10" beech, 1 3/4" cutter; 8" beech 1 1/2" cutter; 10" home made?, 2" cutter; 9 1/4" 'Union cutter and chipper, 2"; 9 3/4" beech, 1 3/8" cutter. I almost have a feeling that each of these was hand crafted. They are unsigned.

Next photo, a group of better planes:

Albert & Lindner: Munchen Schutz Ulmia, 9 1/2", 1 7/8" cutter;
Nooitgedagt 9 1/2"X 2" cutter body and cutter signed;
Nooitgedagt 7" X 1 3/4" cutter
And… my favorite: Primus ECE Guarantie no. 012, with pitch adjustment(?), adjustable throat, Norris-style cutter adjuster, 9" X 2". This one is a great plane!

The Primus blows away my other euros, and this is the one I'd keep, what with so many features seldom seen in a wood-bodied plane. Love the cutter adjuster, 'm just not a big fan of tapping a cutter into the perfect position with a little hammer.

What cha got?? If you have a favorite horned beech plane, please post a pic, or at least comment on your experiences with this type of plane.


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Some of them are bedded at 50 degrees. I think that is
something of a standard in Germany for smoothers.

I have never used one. I've been tempted on ebay
several times though.
I had almost written them off as just curiosity pieces, relics of another time and place. That was, until I got the Primus with all the bells and whistles. I felt that the plane had potential far beyond what my unfamiliar hands were getting out of it. The one modified as a scrub was impressive too, but that may have been due to an artisan's upgrade before I ever owned it.
Thanks, once again Loren, for your thoughtful reply!
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thanks, Don!! Have you ever taken it for a test drive?
I have an inherited (wife's dad) classic European beech plane that I use for rough work, jack/scrub combo I guess. Works great for that. Great gaping mouth, typical of these old general-purpose planes. Haven't measured it but I think the angle is a bit steeper than 45 degrees, have to check.

Although I don't like the look of the horn, it also allows you to kind of pull as you push, standing more to the side. That may not be the "right" way, but man can you make some long deep arced sweeps and change things around so you're not continually riding the same back muscles.

The beech plane my grandfather made (long since stolen) was different, an older kind of design, early-19th century style, like a rectangular box with the upper corners rounded. The iron he'd forged was a thick piece of soft iron welded to the back of a thinner harder blade. No breaker just a thick wedge. The feel of using it was more similar to using an Asian plane than to a European plane. Sorry but I prefer that feel to the usual Euro planes! If I ever get to making a plane I'll try to recreate it.
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thanks, Don!! Have you ever taken it for a test drive?

- poopiekat
I got it pretty cheap at a flea market. I planned to just flip it, but it worked so well Its in my user cabinet.
Did you just post this because you have Primus up on ebay right now? :)

I'm trying not to be tempted.

Did you just post this because you have Primus up on ebay right now? :)

I m trying not to be tempted.


- Ocelot
Looks like the Primus Reform in that auction- does it have an adjustable mouth (Hobelmaulverstellung)? those are desirable planes and 200+ bucks new. The Primus without the adjustable mouth goes for about 170 new.

It's an ECE by the way- ECE has three lines (AFAIK)- ECE, ECE Primus, and ECE Primus Reform. And it's a Putzhobel (smoother).
I started out with the Ulmia veneer plane and German tools. Rudy Demlier was the German tool man and he would visit all the factories and my school, Los Angeles Trade Tech. in the 70's. I would think L.A. a prime area for used German tools. All the old rosewood Baileys are in my tool cupboard but I only use the #6. Timber is my preferred body. The Europeans and the Chinese both have the throat opening well back from the front and a lower center of gravity in use. The shiny plane is a $14 Aldi smooth that I use for Muy Rapido timber removal.

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Mathieson smooth planes I used for years. It's good to have two at different settings. Throat well forward.

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$7 Hong Kong planes with brass wear strip, my new faves. I join mandolin tops and bottoms with these.

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Ocelot: I would never have seen that listing, they don't ship to Canada and those listings get filtered out. I think mine is better, though he says his is unused.

Texcaster, nice collection, thanks for posting!!

Makes me wonder about those sets of Chinese hollow and rounds, wood bodied, for about $150. I know they're probably tiny, but if they work… I'd be interested. Has anyone dared…?

Bobro: I see brand new ECEs with all the fancy hardware for about $195 in the box. I got mine for $135 total, sans box. Good info, the ECE product line, and funky German terminology. I'm digging it.
poopikat, this Mujingfang line:

is very high quality. It seems that Mujingfang has various lines, and different distributors sell various kinds. I have the 9 3/4 inch version of the smoother depicted there, from another distributor. It is a superb plane and cost about 50 bucks including shipping. And this one, in ebony:

also an excellent plane.

I plan to "collect them all" eventually. The only gripe, sort of, I have is that the 64 C blades are hard as heck for a guy with just three oilstones. You'll want to get it going with a diamond stone. The 58 C blades, like my #4-ish plane, are a dream- took me a minute with a whitestone to get it shaving sharp out of the box.
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Nice reference, PK!
Wood love an ECE plane…one o these days…
Thanks for the info on the chinese planes, everyone!
Thanks, Terry!

If there's one piece of info to take away here, it's that you should shop for a beech plane with as many bells and whistles as you can find. The mechanical blade setting features, I mean. aggressive scrubs may not need that stuff, but a beech Cadillac of a plane is the way to go for a smoothing plane. Just an opinion!

Those Chinese planes on eBay are mighty tempting!
PK: You could always build your own Chinese style planes
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Like a Traditional Edge plane? Or…
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A Jack plane….

Just to try them out…


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Yes I too have a small selection which I bought on German ebay.I am well pleased with them.Have fun brother. Alistair
Alistair: I've been so fully indoctrinated toward the iron planes, I thought wooden ones were an obsolete thing of the past. But, I remained open-minded about it and I'm glad I did!!
Bandit: Me make a plane? Really? Jeez, I'm so far behind on things I've got planned, I'm afraid I will enjoy making planes too much, and I'll never get anything else done! When I retire, there will be time for these things, I hope!
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I just spent three hours making a Dutch gerfschaaf plane. So, while not of German origin like most hand planes, it does have a little bit of that look and it works exceptionally well. This pic was taken before final cleanup and finishing, but for three hours of work it turned out ok.


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Zachary: Hey, I like it! Im going to go see what I can find for You-Tube tutorials on making a plane like this. I want one! And not nearly as exotic as the typical horned plane.
Bad, corny, 9 year old Cub Scout joke:

If you're American when you go into the bathroom and you're American when you come out of the bathroom…
What are you when you're in the bathroom?



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