Finished handle

Making a Jointer Plane with Willard ‘Bill’ Anderson — Part 2

When last we left our plane-making heroes they were in the process of making a traditional single iron jointer plane with my friend Bill Anderson at the Woodwright’s School.

Bill demonstrating with a great bench plan cross section model
Bill demonstrating with a great bench plane cross section model

Bill had a great cross section model of how this sort of bench plane works — made by one of his students. With the body of the plane taking shape, next up was tuning the mouth opening and the abutments. If the mouth is too wide or too large the plane may not cut cleanly so you need to carefully fit the iron to the opening. If the abutment is not carefully placed when you re-flatten the sole of the plane you’d also be opening the mouth more. You also need to take care flatten the face of the bed that supports the iron — if there are high points the iron can pivot on those and make it tough to use the plane. One of the many testing/fitting gauges Bill had was a ‘bed testing gauge’ which looks and works much like a pair of ‘pants’ we use in timber framing to test out the thickness of a tenon, except in this case you are using it to check the thickness of the cheeks and how close your bedline is getting to the line scribed on the side the plane body.

Planing the wedge
Planing the wedge

With the mouth and throat all set, next up was making the wedge to hold the iron in place. The wedge needs to be carefully planed to fit the abutments inside of your plane and tightly hold the iron in place. Again here you are using an abutment gauge (wooden wedge of a known profile in degrees) to test your work as you go.  With all the gauges and specialized tools you can quickly see why plane-making was its own dedicated craft specialty.

Shaped and fitted wedge
Shaped and fitted wedge

The wedge is further relieved so that the shavings can clearly escape the plane body.

Templates, gauge blocks and pants
Templates, bed gauges blocks and pants

Above you can see some of the many gauges used in laying out and testing parts of your plane, along with templates for the handles.

Starting to shape the handle
Starting to shape the handle

The handle is first cut out from a rough blank and then carefully shaped by hand to have flowing, graceful lines similar to that of a quality hand saw. The result is a handle that fits the hand so well it, the whole plane feels like an extension of your body.

Auriou rasps used to shape the handle -- they were a pleasure to use
Auriou rasps used to shape the handle — they were a pleasure to use

Various rasps, files and sandpaper are used to shape the handle. Using crisp hand stitched Auriou rasps made quick work of shaping the handles.

Finished handle
Finished handle

Above is the handle after a bit of light sanding.

A finished Jointer Plane
A finished Jointer Plane

Shown here you can see Bill’s finished/sample plane which is based on an historical example.  I’ll post the final shots of my own plane when I finish it soon in my shop.

Rear 3/4 view of the completed sample plane
Rear 3/4 view of the completed sample plane

At the end of the workshop one of the most important tasks was to make sure you plane can take a nice shaving. I’m happy to report that I was able to get a nice full width shaving with my mostly completed plane. (I need to finish setting the handle, trim the edges, apply some finish and use my maker’s name stamp and it will be ready for regular use in the shop).

Making the first shaving with a new plane...
Making the first shaving with a new plane…

In an upcoming post I will complete this series with how I finished off the plane. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Bill Anderson or take a class with him, and I highly encourage you to do so, please check out his website here.


P.S. You can see the first post on making this jointer plane here.

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