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When preparing stock by hand, the most useful plane is probably the jack plane (sometimes called the fore plane among joiners). Its curved iron allows you to remove a remarkable amount of material with every stroke.

I usually travel with a metal jack (an old Stanley No. 5) because it’s less intimidating in a classroom than demonstrating with a wooden-bodied plane. But I do have a wooden jack that I’ll use at home for my own work.

This week while in England, woodworker Richard Arnold showed me one of his 18th-century jacks that had a rounded sole that matched the rounded iron.

He said the plane is English and dates from the mid-1700s, based on its construction details, including its tote, which is offset from the centerline of the wooden stock. The plane had an Ibbotson iron with no chipbreaker.

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Richard, who also collects tools relating to joinery and sash work, said he has seen this rounded sole on early jacks before, though it is not common.


 

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