Chris Schwarz's Blog

You Need to Meet 'The Loopy'

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.

6 thoughts on “You Need to Meet 'The Loopy'

  1. David McDonnel

    Ah… Badger Pond! Fond memories indeed. Haven’t seen the pond mentioned in a very long time!

    Mac

  2. David Colafranceschi

    Out of all your reviews I don’t recall you ever being so convinced of the supremacy of a tool. I have to try it now if I ever get a chance.

  3. RJ Whelan

    I count SMT as a "woodworking friend" – he taught me how to scrape the sole of a plane flat; a skill for which I am eternally thankful.

    Just to add a small comment on his skills – he has also done some of the most incredible floor work I’ve ever seen.

    RJ Whelan

  4. Ethan

    Chris,

    It looks like he took his inspiration from the Knapp joint, one of my favorites to find in antique furniture.

    Are we going to be able to see this plane at WIA?

  5. Larry Wyatt

    I miss the old Badger Pond days and 2×4 contests!! I still wear my cap and pull out the BP archives CD occasionally. Fond memories!! And yes, he is the best, in my not so humble opinion!

    Larry

Comments are closed.