Apologia for the Custom Handplane

05pwm1215customplanesThe best rationale for these ultra high-end tools might not be what you think.

by Raney Nelson

p. 32

Over the past decade, I’ve made somewhere approaching a couple hundred custom handplanes, both for my own enjoyment and (since 2010) as my full-time occupation. I’d like to take some time here to tell you why every woodworker needs a custom handplane in his or her shop.

But I can’t do that.

The truth is that most woodworkers need a modern “super” plane in exactly the same way my 6-year-old son needs a jet pack.

So let’s get that settled right off the bat. Offerings from Lie-Nielsen, Veritas, Clifton and Old Street Tool have taken the modern handplane into already-rarefied levels of performance. Properly set up and tuned, those companies’ tools far exceed the needs of almost any woodworking shop.

For that matter, local flea markets and auctions are sources for classic Bailey pattern and wooden planes, most of which can be tuned to serve a shop’s needs with just a little care and attention.

On top of that, there is a whole range of vital handplanes that have no justifiable alternative in the custom plane world. Scrub and fore planes, the jack plane, fillister and plow planes – not to mention moulding planes of all variety.

And yes – this is my standard sales pitch.

Now that I’ve shot my business in the foot, let me tell you why I remain committed to tools I’ve just seemingly relegated to the land of unicorns and altruistic stockbrokers – and why some woodworkers still have good reason to desire custom handplanes the way my son pines after Spaceman Spiff couture.

Web site: Visit the author’s web site.
Article:Test-driving Exotic Infill Handplanes,” by Christopher Schwarz.
Web site: Visit the web sites of the other makers featured in this article: Sauer & Steiner Toolworks; Holtey Classic Handplanes; Anderson Planes; and Brese Plane.
in Our Store:Handplane Essentials,” by Christopher Schwarz.

From the December 2015 issue

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