In the world of infill planes, there are several tools that stand out as iconic designs, including Karl Holtey’s “bad arse” A13 and his groundbreaking No. 98, which laid the groundwork for all the modern bevel-up planes.
On this side of the Atlantic, few planes are as distinct as Stephen M. Thomas’s “Loopy” infill. It started as a joke, way back in the early years of the Badger Pond discussion group (we didn’t have WiFi, we didn’t have Skype, we didn’t have “air” , and we liked it!).
Thomas is, and I don’t use this word lightly, a genius. A savant at both woodworking (he’s in architectural millwork) and toolmaking, he designed and built the “loopy” infills , so named for their distinctive crescent-joint sidewalls , from scratch.
The Loopy is the first modern infill I ever saw with an adjustable mouth (though Norris advertised plates you could install, I believe). And the sole is an astonishing 11/16″ thick. Using it is like pushing a big, beautiful, completely stable brick across a board. And it is capable of taking shavings both thick and gossamer thin without a shudder.
I can hear the anti-infill forces gathering from here, lighting their beech fore planes. Getting out their high-carbon pitchforks.
In any case, Thomas came for a visit a few months ago and loaned me one of his planes. I’ve been using the tar out of it and have been meaning to write about it here. But then I beat myself to it.
I wrote an article about the plane in the most recent edition of The Fine Tool Journal about Thomas and his plane. And now Wiktor Kuc has kindly posted it on his site at WKFineTools.com. The direct link to the story is http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/cSchwarz/z_art/loopyInfill/loopyInfill-1.asp.
If you like exotic iron, this is a fine piece of it.
– Christopher Schwarz
Other Handplane Resources For You
– “Handplane Essentials” by Christopher Schwarz. I write about a lot of infill planes and my experiences with them.
– David Charlesworth’s “Hand Tool Techniques Part 1: Plane Sharpening” from Lie-Nielsen Toolworks.
– David Charlesworth’s “Hand Tool Techniques Part 2, Hand Planing” from Lie-Nielsen Toolworks.
– Want to restore a plane? You need to visit RexMill.com.