Precision Infill planes taken to a new level.
Although now championing my new 98 series precision hand planes, I continue to make infill planes based on the Norris, Mathieson and Spiers patterns. Please take some time to visit my Gallery or Planes pages to see examples of my work.
I must emphasize that I do not make 'reproduction antiques' – my designs, although firmly based on traditional infill patterns, incorporate subtle modifications to achieve the standards of design and finish for which I have become known. My aim is simply to make the finest hand planes money can buy.
The No.984 Panel Plane.
The last plane. I try to make every plane better than the preceding one, in the wake of the No. 983 block plane this has been difficult but I feel I have achieved it. However, I have now reached the point where it is time for me to retire and so this limited edition No. 984 Panel plane will be my last.
It is all stainless steel 13 1/2” long with a 2” blade and is a 17 degree bevel up panel plane. Most of its features are similar to the No. 983 block plane, and as usual all my work has detail and precision which always exceeds its forebears. This plane incorporates the same design principals as the No. 98 which was the first in this series, and one of my most successful planes, similarities can be seen in many planes today. I wanted to revisit the No. 98 to make some final revisions and am taking the opportunity to do this in a panel plane.
I have revised the adjuster stem by keeping it all in one piece. Instead of traditional knurling techniques I have index milled (as in the No. 983) the edges of the thumb wheels, which seems more befitting of a high end product. Using a stepped lever cap (cut from solid stainless) means I can facilitate the use of a swivel clamping pad, and the lever cap has been contoured in a manner to keep the clamping arrangement perpendicular to the blade. I have included a line drawing to demonstrate that this is achievable without being ungainly while still maintaining traditional styling and performance [below]. This also includes a slight recess for the bridge, keeping the lever cap secure whilst making adjustments at any orientation.
The adjuster is the well proven Norris type incorporating lateral adjustment and working in conjunction with two kicker pads in the mouth area. The mounting of this adjuster is unique as it is precisely recessed into the bottom of the plane and requires no fixing. Once the blade and lever cap are removed the adjuster can be lifted out, allowing easy access for cleaning.
As with all the planes in this series, the bun is a low profile mushroom shape which gives better feedback in use. I could never understand the tall slim type of bun, I feel that the mushroom design is logically more suited, having a flatter top which is nicer to bear down on.
An open handle is the only practical type of tote for a bevel up plane, I considered many types of handle and have seen some examples where the handle is almost horizontal, and some people prefer handless planes. In my research I found that a handle angle approaching 20 degrees feels very comfortable when using a plane at average bench height. However this would be quite radical in its appearance, and would be difficult to fit into the space available. I found that all the traditional planes had an angle of 56 degrees (which I have used myself before). For the No. 984 I have reduced this angle by 8 degrees to 48 degrees, which feels very comfortable and more ergonomic and aesthetic.
The price for this final limited edition No. 984 plane is £4,750 (+ vat if applicable) + delivery. Although I am renowned for running over time I am estimating a delivery time of 2-3 months, a 20% deposit will secure the price and a plane. I will also be keeping my blog updated during the making of this plane.
This plane is the culmination of my career as a plane maker, 26 years of experience, development, research, and engineering. Hopefully a good plane to end with.
T21 Transitional Planes
A few years ago I made a limited number (ten) of my take on transitional planes. This is something that I had wanted to do for some time as I have always had a fascination for the work of John P Gage amongst others.
I completed just half of this batch before moving on to other projects and these 5 have been taking up valuable space on my shelf. I thought it was now appropriate to finish them off. The picture [above] shows the bodies finished and oiled with some of the brass fittings.
There are construction pictures on my blog here.
These planes are 20 7/8" long with a 2 3/8" A2 blade, the wood is curly maple and rosewood.
Having made some comments on the instability of wood in infill planes and now that I have successfully made metal planes without infills of my own design; I felt that there is a sector in the market that looks longingly towards wooden planes.
Having used some wooden planes myself I feel that there is a sweetness in the way that these planes glide which adds to the plane’s charm. There is the metal plane with a greater accuracy (well some of them) and the smooth operation of the wooden plane. When you try and put the two together to get an infill plane you can lose the advantages of both types of plane. This leaves the transitional.
One very unique A28 Chariot Plane
Could this be my last infill plane? I really do want to move on to more of my own designs. Although it was the infill planes that drew my attention at the very beginning, the idea of introducing a tight fitting piece of wood inside a steel structure is a bit crazy; especially when you are producing a precision product. The dimensional stability of wood has always been the bane of my life.
In the case of small planes these problems are not so inherent. In all the infill planes I have made I have always tried to deal with this stability problem. The worst scenario is when the wood expands the power is unstoppable and will push the sides of the plane out. This will then show around the rivets and dovetails. The problems are not so great on shrinkage because I use tube spacers with my rivets, this prevents the sides from falling in.
With this Chariot Plane I have made no exceptions to my efforts to prevent these problems, as small as they are in this type of plane. I have found no evidence of Norris types of low angle planes being dovetailed. This is probably because of the difficulty in fabricating them in this scale especially at the front end. In my Chariot the front end/toe has the dovetail and rivet integrated, as can be seen in the photo [below] otherwise the whole structure would have to be cast. It is most unlikely that you will see this reproduced anywhere.
Other than this the plane is a standard Chariot based on the Norris A28. Some of the construction information can be seen on the blog here: http://www.holteyplanes.com/blog/category/a28/. The cost is £4,800 + delivery + V.A.T. if applicable.
No. 11-S Smoother Modified
Back in 2004 I set about making a small simple smoothing plane in a traditional style, but in a bevel down format (I don’t think the wood could tell the difference, as long as the common angle is the same). This had the advantage of having extra hand room to hold the plane. This body style is reminiscent of the Norris mitre plane which, however was bevel up and difficult to use as a smoothing plane due to the lack of access at the rear of the plane.
The plane worked very nicely and was well received (in fact even copied). On request I made an adjustable version but then I was criticised for gilding the lily.
I recently discovered some unused components from this 11-s and I had wanted to remake this plane as a non-adjuster for some time. I wanted to have a snecked iron so that it would make the adjusting much easier – I am constantly amazed that other non-adjuster planes do not have any snecking. The system I have chosen is similar to the one Norris used on their shoulder planes. After one or two sketches I decided that this side snecking is the way forward. Top snecking has less access because of the lever cap.
I had a small criticism from a customer of the 11-s about the sharpness of the blade edges as a user’s hand will often press against the blade in use. I felt that some rounding above the ‘water line’ eliminated any discomfort. This has required some hand polishing and is now really very much nicer to the touch and pleasant to handle.
Picture (above left) shows traditional dovetailing with precision, I could say a lot more here but the picture does the job. Picture (above right) shows the detail and work that goes on between the plane sides. Wood and metal alike are made to precision. Note the rivets and brass sleeves which show up in the following sectional drawing.
Sectional drawing (above) shows the lever cap, sole, frog, infill, rivets, brass spacers and the brass bar (illustrated by double hatching) acting as blade bed combined with the frog. Note that this bar is snugly bedded into the infill and bored to take the rivet and spacer which then unites the whole assembly with sound stability. I have never put much store in wooden beds.
The 11s - modified has a 1½” wide blade with 2¾” of blade life. The plane is 6 ½” long and available in Rosewood, Ebony and Boxwood. The blade was a lot of work but as I have been able to use some stock items elsewhere I am happy to offer this plane at £2065 + vat if applicable.