Making a Jack Plane
While I wait for the homemade stopping to set on my boarded chest project, I’ve allowed myself an attempt at making a plane. A pair of wooden planes caught my eye on eBay and I took a punt on them. They looked good to the eye but the photos were quite poor and to be honest, I should of asked more questions as they turned out to be a little rough and ready. The silver lining was they were made by the very reputable planemaker Alexander Mathieson & Son. The try plane is solid and with a few basic steps is a good user. The jack, however, needs a bit of love.
The jack in question has a 2″ iron and a closed handle. The mouth is open and it feel like an ideal first plane to the wood. Although the plane is beaten, the biggest problem is the broken handle; with that sorted it would be fine but I had a nice bit of quartered beech at my disposal that was leftover from a table commission and I could not resist attempting to make a copy. This narrower jack makes sourcing wood much easier. Wider jacks and just about all trying planes need stock beyond 3″ in thickness and it is less easy (although not impossible) to find in a specification suitable for planes.
Having a plane to copy makes setting out and applying details as easy as it can be and I’d recommend finding a good plane to copy. I had thought about making a smoother first; if this attempt is acceptable I might just have a go at that, too. However, the wider mouth of this jack enticed me because I hope it will be a touch more forgiving to make.
If I had any sense I would have done a practice run a few times on some scrap timber because it strikes me that practice, practice, practice is needed to get swift with this process. It’s only by walking a mile (or in this case stumbling a few hundred yards) in someone else’s shoes do you fully appreciate any process of creating something, and this is no different. Yes it’s about setting out, working to a line etc., but I’ve found chopping the mouth a test. I’m thankful, too, you can still buy floats; using them will be something new to me and I’m looking forward to trying them out. I know already that I’ll be lucky to come even remotely close to the quality of the Mathieson plane when I’m done – but it’s going to be fun trying!
— Graham Haydon