Cover-worthy: Jim Leamy Plow Plane - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Cover-worthy: Jim Leamy Plow Plane

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Handplanes, Woodworking Blogs

Plow Plane

For subscribers who have received their copy of the February 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, you are forgiven if you didn’t notice the piece of furniture on the cover and became fixated on the plow plane sitting on top of the piece of furniture.

The plow is a masterpiece of ebony, brass and steel made by Jim Leamy, a long-time planemaker. And it is one of my most prized possessions.

I asked Leamy to make it for me after seeing his work and meeting him at the shop of John Sindelar, a woodworker and tool collector. While the tool is based on a historic model, my guess is that the original tool wasn’t designed for daily use. Weighing 8 lbs. 8 oz. (a little bit more than a Lie-Nielsen No. 7 jointer) it wears me out to use it.

Plow Plane

But that doesn’t mean it’s useless. Far from it. I use it almost every day.

It sits in my office within easy reach, and I pick it up all the time to fiddle with its centerwheel and manipulate its knurled knobs. I am constantly in awe of the way Jim fit the ebony and brass together, plus the way everything works – literally – like clockwork.

It is, quite simply, inspiration to do better work.

Leamy makes tools that are designed for daily work as well, from infill smoothing planes to rabbet planes and tongue-and-groove planes.

His website is deactivated, but you can read more about his work here and here. If you are interested in reaching him to commission a plane, contact him at

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 12 comments
  • amoscalie

    I did also notice the beautiful plane first. I am going to build a plow plane and it is going to look just like Jim Leamy’s, but then the alarm went off and I awoke. Mine will be a very plain Jane plane made of maple, however it will have two brass thumb screws, unpolished. I really can appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry that was required to built such a fantastic looking plane.

  • Danner

    Chris nailed it. I pulled the magazine from the mailbox yesterday and hardly noticed the beautiful cabinet on the cover as I stood in the driveway and admired the plane. Thanks for the bigger photos. Someday…

  • carlipop

    Speaking of Santa, we were blessed today with a donation of about 25 hand planes. Most are wooden with an iron upper section. One of the planes is marked The Upson Nut Co. and then #28. There are about 20 planes of various sizes with identical markings except for the #. Can anyone shed any light on these planes? I can’t find anything about them on the internet.

  • gumpbelly

    I still remember Jim’s display at Berea. Impressive is a word that comes to mind.

  • takeadip

    The plane is not based on an antique but a copy of the one made by Dominic Micilizzi. Dominic was a tool collector and master woodworker who made some very elaborate and creative tools. He was not only a master woodworker but excelled as a wood carver, machinist, worked with ivory and did scrimshaw. When you put all these talents together he made some unbelievable tools. I have some of his tools and photos of most of the ones he made. This plane here is one we called “The Ultimatum Plow Plane” as its original design came from the Sheffield stuffed braces of ultimatum design. Another plow plane he made is also mistakenly called a historical presentation plane in Nagyszalanczy’s book with the initials of maker “DM” It is a ivory plow plane he made. I can’t post photos here but I am sure members would enjoy seeing his work. Not to take anything away from Jim Leamy as he is a very talented craftsman, but Dominic deserves credit for his fine work. Dominic passed away in 1999.

  • pmac

    Oh my! Steampunk heaven.

  • dkratville

    Hi, I have an old plow plane, very modest compared to above. Is there a place to get new blades made? Mine is an antique and I am not sure the people who made it measured distance in the same way I do, haha. Their 3/8ths is a bit different from mine. I would like to have these cutters match my chisels. Thanks for any help!!


  • woddawg

    Beautiful! I am amazed at the joint between the ebony infill and the brass at the toe. Are the cutters from a Record?


    • Christopher Schwarz
      Christopher Schwarz

      Your best bet is to go to a Mid-West Tool Collectors meet with your plow in hand. There are always scads of plow blades there. You just have to find one that will fit the escapement and wedge down.

      • dkratville


  • John Switzer

    Oh Santa, I know what I want.

    • Art Rafael

      Stunningly Beautiful. I built a similar miniature some time ago. Ralph



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