Adjustable-Mouth Panel-Raising Plane
I started this plane around 1999, after I'd purchased a really nice ECE dovetail plane (available at Tools for Working Wood
) for making sliding dovetails.
is basically a Krenov style plane, in which the cheeks are glued to the body after the throat has been cut.
Front view of panel-raising plane
(Instructions for a flat-soled example are available at
The College of the Redwoods
, and plans are available from Hock Tools
as an exercise for my new dovetail plane, that it would be cool to attach the cheeks with sliding dovetails. As it's kind
of hard to find four-inch thick quarter-sawn hard maple, I had to glue the body up from two pieces. Then I got the bright idea:
what if I didn't glue the pieces in front of the mouth, but let the bottom half slide? Voila, an adjustable mouth!
Front end of sole
I started out by cutting the male dovetails on the side of the lower half of the body, and the female sockets in the cheek pieces.
I then shaped the profile (based on a lot of web research an examination of panels I found attractive) on the sole. Then I glued the
top and bottom halves of the body together, but with a slip of wax paper separating them in the front, ahead of where the
throat would be. Next, I cut the throat, and glued on the cheeks, taking care not to glue the front half of the sole. That part rides
smoothly, but tightly, in the waxed dovetailed ways.
View of sole, also showing the strike button on the heel of the plane
Next I made an iron out of 3/16" O-1 tool steel. Before hardening, I ground the profile; to get the shape right,
I put some dyechem on the iron, wedged it into the plane, and scribed the shape of the sole. I tempered it a little softer
than I do with regular plane irons, because moulding plane irons sometimes have to be reshaped as the body wood moves. In fact,
I need to do some more reshaping - you can see the scorch marks on the aris between the bevel and the flat portion for the panel edge. (I raised a bunch of
panels after finishing the plane.)
The dimensions of the plane are 13 1/4" long by 3 9/16" high by 3 1/16" wide. The iron is bedded at 53°, and skewed 30°.
Top view, showing throat, tote, and adjustment hold-down screw
Next came the final tasks: making and installing a tote, shaping the wedge, cutting the abutments in the cheeks to hold it, and finding a way to fix
the adjustable mouth. The wedge was simple to make, but it took a lot of fettling of the bottom end of the wedge and the abutments to keep the throat from
clogging up with shavings. I solved the adjustment issue by installing a barrel nut in the front sole piece, and a brass screw and
slotted fitting in the top of the body. The mouth can then be adjusted for hogging and for fine finish cuts. I
shaped a nice tote to fit my hand, decided on razee profile for the plane, and glued the tote into a mortise.
All in all, a very satisfying project - there's something about making a useful tool from scratch and
having it actually work nicely. And I'm very pleased with the way the plane works.
Some Excellent Resources:
Making Traditional Wooden Planes
The Wooden Plane
Both books by John M. Whelan, available from The Astragal Press
Copyright © Peter L Berglund, 2006. All rights reserved; content may not be reproduced without permission of author.