This week I’m building two wooden planes from a kit sold by Ron Hock of Hock Tools. The kit is designed to be used to make a wooden handplane muck like the ones popularized by James Krenov while he was at the College of the Redwoods.
When I took the parts out I got to looking at them and realized: “Hey, these could be used to build a Roman-style handplane.” So I decided to build one plane like a Roman plane and the other like a Krenov-style plane.
Why build a Roman plane? (I mean, besides the fact that my mother must have dropped me on my head.) Well, I’ve always been interested in the odd grips offered by these tools. They seem designed to allow you to really press the plane down effectively, and one of the reasons I struggle with wooden planes is that I find them difficult to keep pressed to the work.
This plane is based on the Saalburg Roman plane shown in W.L. Goodman’s “The History of Woodworking Tools.” This plane survived because it was thrown down a well when the village was sacked by barbarians, according to Goodman. The dimensions for the plane kit are pretty close to the Saalburg plane, though not exact , mine will be a little short.
The kit from Ron Hock includes everything you need to build the plane: Wooden components already cut to shape, the wooden cross-pin, a wedge and an iron and cap assembly. I was a little skeptical when I saw that the directions were a single page, but boy was the kit easy to put together. The plane shown above is the result of two hours of work. The Krenov-style plane will be even faster.
First I glued the sidewalls and sole together. The wood for the body and sole was in good shape, though I tweaked one sidewall with a couple swipes of a block plane to get it to fit perfectly. Then I bored out the two grips using a 1″-diameter Forster bit. Then I started shaping the grips with a handsaw and rasps, which is where I am today. So far it’s great fun, quick and rewarding.
This morning I put my hands into the grips and got into planing position. I was surprised how good the body felt with those grips.