Build a Wooden Jack Plane

Making your own tool helps you understand how and why it works, and what to do if it doesn’t.
By Mario Rodriguez
Pages: 60-65

From the December 2008 Issue #173
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Making a plane is a unique woodworking experience that shouldn’t be missed. It’s a way to develop a deep knowledge of how a plane works – and why one might not. The experience also provides the opportunity to customize one of the most useful tools in your collection. Another advantage is that you get to create a tool best suited to your particular work and methods.

For this article, I built a jack/panel plane that’s 15″ long with a 2″-wide blade. A plane of this size can be used for final finishing of a wood surface, sort of like an English panel plane. And at 15″, it isn’t too long. The extra weight and girth enable it to overcome chatter and better deal with tricky grain and any cross-grain planing. It’s not a size commonly used for smoothing by American woodworkers, but the panel plane has always been popular in England.

I don’t normally use a plane of this size, but I’ve found this one easy to use and extremely effective. I almost have to resist the temptation to grab for it whenever I need a plane and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites.

From the December 2008 issue #173
Buy this issue now