The Legendary Karl Holtey’s Last Plane

The original masterpiece. The Holtey 98 Smoothing Plane was the maker’s first original design.

The Holtey No. 98 Smoothing Plane was the maker’s first original design.

The No. 984 panel plane, currently in production, will be the last run of commercial handplanes in Karl Holtey’s legendary and innovative 26-year career. His first original design is shown above.

I had the chance early on in my time at Popular Woodworking to handle several of his incredible tools, and take a few shavings. It was about a year after I joined the staff and maybe 1 week after I’d memorized the style book, and could reliably spell rabbet and moulding (yes, we use the “u”). I had “used” a handplane but a handful of times; I might have had one lesson in sharpening. In other words, I knew the words, but I didn’t know the tools.

Now, with a decade+ of woodworking experience and a lot of planing under my belt (with some good, some bad and some excellent tools), I wish I could try Holtey’s planes again. Maybe I’ll someday have the chance.

With Holtey’s retirement on the near horizon, we asked U.K.-based woodworker/luthier/writer Kieran Binnie to write a retrospective of Holtey and his work. It was in our June 2016 issue, but you can read it here, free.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

For more on handplanes of all types and how to use them, check out the many videos and books in our online store on the subject.

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