When I was assisting a woodworking class this April, a student asked why anyone would buy an infill plane. They are more expensive than a premium plane from Veritas or Lie-Nielsen, and perform at the same very high level.
“Well,” I answered. “I build stuff by hand. When people occasionally buy my stuff it’s expensive. So I believe in supporting people who build tools in the same way I build furniture.”
Another student at the back of room put it better than I did: “You have to practice what you preach,” he called out.
This week I’ve been working with two planes made by Matt Hodgson, a Utah luthier-turned-planemaker who runs the Gabardi and Son tool company. (For a short story I wrote earlier about Matt, read this entry: Matt Hodgson: From Luthier to Planemaker.)
After borrowing his Norris A5 for a few months, I sent it back to him and started saving my money to buy one of Hodgson’s planes for myself. I settled on an unhandled coffin smoother with a thick O1 Hock iron. The plane arrived while I was on my way to New Hampshire last week, and when I returned I immediately opened the boxes Hodgson had sent.
Boxes? Two? Hodgson had sent along two additional planes of his for me to try: a handled smoother and a small-straight sided smoothing plane, which he says is an adaptation of a Spiers No. 6.
I immediately set up the plane I had purchased and have put it to work — in fact, I have hardly put it down as I’ve been finishing up this workbench and a few other projects. Then I set up the Spiers No. 6. Both of these planes are fantastic, both to work with and to look at.
The mouths of the two planes I’ve set up are super-tight, the workmanship is A+ and the wood is just gorgeous. I’ll be writing more about these planes in the coming weeks and writing about them in great detail in the Fine Tool Journal. In the meantime, I’m off to buy my wife some flowers. And maybe some jewelry for good measure as well.
– Christopher Schwarz
Other Handplane Resources You’ll Enjoy
– Gabardi & Son website
– If you think I have a problem, read about my visit to John Sindelar’s tool museum.
– My book “Handplane Essentials” is also a bad influence on many woodworkers.
– And for the biggest rock of crack I know, check out Sandor Nagyszalanczy ‘s “The Art of Fine Tools.”