Test-driving Exotic Infill Handplanes

We spend three days with the world’s most expensive planes. Are they just jewelry? Or do they work better than your plane?
By Christopher Schwarz
Pages: 52-59

From the August 2006 issue #156
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There are times when I wish I could find my first handplane. It was, by most standards, an utter piece of junk. I had bought it after college during a late-night run to Wal-Mart, and my purchase was guided by the fact that it was blue, cheap and the only block plane I could find on the shelves that evening.

So it was surprising (then and now) that the tool actually worked quite well. It didn’t have a blade adjuster, the sole was rough and the steel in the cutter was as gummy as Juicy Fruit. But when I put the tool to wood it made that sweet “sneeeeck” sound of a perfect curl of wood being sliced from its mother board.

It was the first step in my journey. In the last 13 years I’ve slowly upgraded my handplanes. After buying a Stanley jack plane, the blue plane went into my carpentry toolkit. Then it went into a box in the basement. And now I can’t find it. Occasionally I do get a pang of longing for it. But never have I wanted that block plane more than the day I pushed a $6,600 Karl Holtey A13 infill plane over a piece of curly maple.

From the August 2006 issue #156
Buy this issue now