In Shop Blog, Tool Reviews, Tools

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If you’ve been pondering ordering a handplane from Philip Marcou after my review of his plane in both Popular Woodworking and a longer review in the Fine Tool Journal (read the review in its entirety at, this is a good time.

Marcou and his worldwide distributor, Wiktor Kuc, are offering a 10 percent discount on S45 and S20A planes (15 percent off if you buy two or more). You can get the details from Marcou’s U.S. web site.

Below is the review I wrote of the plane we borrowed from Marcou. If you work with nasty exotic woods, this plane is a champ.

From the June 2007 Tool Test in Popular Woodworking:

Marcou S20A Smoothing Plane Great for Exotics

If you work with exotic woods , the nasty, stringy stuff that no plane can tame , then Philip Marcou would like to build you an equally exotic handplane. Marcou, a New Zealand cabinetmaker-turned-toolmaker, builds premium planes designed to easily achieve the high cutting angles that work with exotic woods.

For several months, I borrowed an S20A smoothing plane from Marcou to use, and I spent that time looking for exotic woods that the tool would not plane. Of the 15 or so woods I tried, the Marcou S20A handled them all with ease.

The plane works with the bevel facing up, like a block plane, so you can increase the cutting angle of the tool simply by increasing the sharpening angle on your iron. The iron is bedded at 20Ã?°, so by honing a 40Ã?° angle on the iron I was planing at 60Ã?°. There are lots of planes that can do this, of course, but the Marcou shines because of its mass (it weighs almost 9 pounds) and the fact that you can close up the mouth to an aperture that’s perfect for smoothing. In fact, when the mouth is closed all the way, the aperture is spot-on for taking a .001″-thick shaving. That is some high-tolerance engineering, and it’s one of the reasons the tool costs $1,995.

Like any tool that costs this much, everything about the Marcou is finished to a high degree. The depth-of-cut adjuster is as smooth as silk. The dovetails that join the sole and sidewalls are seamless. My only complaint with the tool was I found the rear tote a bit uncomfortable for my hand. Marcou said he’s refining the tote shape and will, of course, fit a tote to a user’s hand.

Owning a Marcou is like owning a Jaguar. You might not need one to get to work every day, but its beauty and performance make you lust wildly for it.    

– Christopher Schwarz

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