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When I began teaching at woodworking schools several years ago, it was the most selfish act imaginable.

I didn’t do it to share what I know about woodworking. I didn’t do it to inspire other woodworkers. I didn’t do it for the travel or the all-you-can-eat breakfast bars in mid-priced hotels.

I began teaching so I could save enough money to buy a half-set of Clark & Williams hollows and rounds. I have coveted these planes since I first saw them in 2002 when I met Larry Williams at the WoodWorks show in Ft. Washington, Pa.

And after a few years of teaching and saving I finally placed my order with Larry and Don McConnell. That was about 18 months ago (I think). Earlier this summer the 18 planes arrived from Eureka Springs, Ark., and I took the box to my shop at home. My immediate instinct was to drop everything I was doing, rip into the box and start using the planes.

But I’ve been working on a new book (details here), and every waking moment has been devoted to building, writing and editing. However, this week I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I took the box to work and I’ve been unpacking the planes on my lunch hour and am about to build a special tray in my toolbox for them.

These aren’t my first moulding planes. I’ve been using hollows and rounds for several years now. I have a fair number of vintage planes that I’ve fixed up and have been using. The vintage planes have been real hit or miss. I struggled to find ones where the wood wasn’t warped, or the irons weren’t too far gone, or the wedges weren’t impossibly messed up. But even with this rag-tag fugitive fleet of hollows and rounds, I’ve been thrilled with what they do.

So it’s fair to say I was speechless as I unpacked my half set. Really, honestly and truly, these planes are handmade things of beauty. Each one is perfect. Every surface is exquisite. Every chamfer is crisp. They are what every tool should be: perfectly functional, comfortable, easy on the eyes and inspiring.

I am still deep into this book project but I’m pulling myself out of it a little bit more every day. And now I have something to look forward to: Putting these tools to work.

So thank you Larry and Don. Though I paid full price for these tools, it was far too little.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 9 comments
  • Glen

    Those are beautiful, Chris. You said you’ve fixed up some over the years; have you had any success at making any of your own?

    Everytime I stop for a minute and think about the amount of quality furniture that was made with wooden hand tools, I’m embarassed at what I CAN’T accomplish with what’s available to me in the 21st Century.

    The difference is craftsmanship and talent.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Christopher Schwarz

    We probably will test them, but I can’t give you a timeframe. If you beat us to them, let us know how they perform.


  • southpaw

    Any comments on the new Lee Valley offered Hollows and Rounds as they compare to C&W? Obviously they are in different classes, but what about all us without ANY H&R’s, I’m especially interested in the top vs side escapement, and if this makes any difference to us side escapement oppressed left-handers? Is a review pending either here or in print?

  • Joe Heasley

    Lucky Dog.

  • Ron Boe

    My wife says that was a good reason. She’s good people so I think you are in the clear.

    If only I had something worth teaching. :^(

    (besides how to avoid meeting cute nurses via power tools and motorcycles, probably best avoided)

  • Bill

    Nice old-school Battlestar Galactica drive-by reference.

    Yeah, I caught that. Lorne Greene lives.

    Yeah, I’m a nerd.

  • Michael

    I’ve been meeting some of the nicest people who work wood. I got an old rusty Bailey No. 4 plane from my granddad. There is a wood smith close by and I stopped in to pick his brain about tuning up and using the Bailey. While he wasn’t keen on the Bailey, he dogged up some maple on his bench and got out a few Bailey planes and their Lie Nielsen counter parts and had me try them out. For all you craftsmen out there, we who are just starting out do appreciate when you take your time and share your experience. Oh, and if anybody has some Lie Nielsen planes that need a good home …

  • Cory

    You talk about teaching classes to get a set of those – I took a class to get 2 of them.

    They’re not exactly Clark & Williams, but almost identical because they were made by me in a class with Williams and McConnell. There are so many details about the planes – the angles, the precision fitting, and the decorations.

    Don McConnell gave a wealth of historical information about the style of the C&W planes and how they fit against historical styles. Plus I got to use just about every handtool in the shop, so it was a great week.

    Making the other 16 are somewhere on my to-do list…

  • Bob Demers

    They certainly are a thing of beauty, exquisites, major drool here…:-)

    Enjoy, as I am sure you will. Meanwhile, ill keep on saving and keep using my rag tag collections of H&R


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