In a previous post, I talked about building the Woodsmith Chisel Plane. Now I want to talk about my experience building the Woodsmith Hand Plane. It’s a kit that you can order from the Woodsmith Store.
The kit comes with pre-cut front and back wood pieces, two predrilled brass side pieces, a Hock iron and cap iron, and the cap screw and washer used to assemble the iron into the finished plane.
The brass sides need some work before you can fasten them to the wood pieces. The holes need countersunk for the small brass screws. I used a countersink in my drill press, being careful not to drill too deep. You want the head of the screws to be just a little proud of the surface so you can file them flush later. Then following the detailed instructions included in the kit, I marked and predrilled pilot holes for the screws in the wood pieces. The most critical dimension here is the width of the mouth opening. You want a tight opening to be able to take fine shavings without tearout. The nice thing is, if the mouth ends up being too tight, you can file a little to open it up. But if it’s too big…well…let’s just say that it involves quite a bit more work.
I took a file to the brass sides to file the screw heads flush to the sides. Then I used sandpaper face-up on my bench to smooth the sides and make them flat. I started with 150-grit and worked my way up to 400-grit. That leaves a nice “brushed” finish. Then I rubbed the sides with a fine 3M Scotch-Brite pad. Then I went to work to form the radius on the back and front like you see in the photo. I used a rasp and sandpaper to do this while the plane was clamped in the tail vise of my workbench.
The next thing I did was flatten the sole. I followed the instructions and used sandpaper face-up on my table saw. I used the rip fence as a reference to keep the sole 90° to the sides. On my plane, the sole on the back piece was thicker than that on the front piece, so it took quite a bit of sanding to get the entire sole flat.
Finally, I was ready to fit the iron into the plane. The mouth was a little tight, so I ended up filing about 1/32″ from the front of the mouth. It’s important to keep the mouth square when filing. A little honing of the iron and I was ready to put it all together and give it a try.
I set the plane to take a very thin shaving and took a few swipes on the edge of some oak I had lying around the shop. I was able to get a full-width, “whisper thin” shaving the full length of the board. I was impressed. This is a comfortable, sweet little plane. The only downside that I could see is that the sole is wood. As comfortable and nice as this plane is to use, it’ll get a lot of use in my shop, but that means a lot of wear on the sole. Now, because it is wood, that means that I can flatten the sole anytime I need to with a few swipes across some sandpaper. But that also means risking widening of the mouth. But I suspect it’ll be quite some time before I need to worry about any of that.
A coat of boiled linseed oil and a couple coats of Briwax clear paste wax added the final “spit polish.” Then I couldn’t resist…I had to take a few more shavings. Like I said — what a sweet little plane.