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This weekend I drew up the plans to make a new tote for my No. 2 plane, and I realized I need to order a $10 drill bit to do the job. So instead I decided to modify the existing tote to see how far I could take it.

After studying the tote for the No. 2-sized Millers Falls tote, I drew some lines on the existing tote and fetched my rasps. After about 30 minutes of work, I could grasp the tote with a three-fingered grip. After another 10 minutes I had removed the odd flats and it wasn’t half-bad.

A profile shot of the Millers Falls tote on a No. 2-sized plane.

A profile shot of the Millers Falls tote on a No. 2-sized plane.

Before I called it done, I set the plane aside and came back to it this morning. As expected, I found a few more spots I could refine with a fine rasp. Then I removed the rasp marks with a scraper and some fine sandpaper.

Now I had an unfinished tote and a finished front knob. What to do?


I stripped the varnish off the front knob and fetched my propane torch. Like a lot of woodworkers who read the April 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, I have been experimenting with a charred finish thanks to a great article by Seth Gould. (Order the issue here; visit Seth’s web site here.)

I’ve experimented with the finish on about a dozen test pieces and have been scrubbing the samples with a homemade wax mixture and (sometimes) a polissoir.

The finish took about five minutes of work and looks nice to my eye. I’ve decided to give this modified tote a good test drive before making an entire new tote. After all, I like building furniture a lot more than mucking about with tools.

— Christopher Schwarz


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Showing 5 comments
  • James3one

    I can’t get all my fingers around a No.4 tote let alone a No.2 so I can see making a change. However, it looks like modifying a No.2 instead of making a new tote leaves the palm too close to the frog. If you need more room for the fingers it’s just as important to push the palm back as it is to open up the space between parts.

  • abt

    If we don’t have a Millers Falls No. 2 handy, would it be possible to get a sketch of where you ended up with yours (if you end up liking it after the test drive)? Thanks in advance.

  • thekiltedwoodworker

    Kinda looks like you just squoze it too hard near the top.

    Gonna name it George, then?

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