Friends, Krenovians & Countrymen - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Friends, Krenovians & Countrymen

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Handplane Techniques, Handplanes, Woodworking Blogs

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.

Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 8 comments
  • Christopher Schwarz


    That’s an excellent book. Not only for wooden plane enthusiasts. Finck deals with plane mechanics in a way that would be helpful to all users. The new edition (which just came out) is fantastic.


  • Karl Rookey

    I bought an excellent book last summer on making Krenovian planes: Making & Mastering Wood Planes by David Finck (published by Sterling). Not only does it tell you what to do with one of those blade-and-chipper-only sets from Hock, but it tells you how to make the blades yourself if you want.

  • j. nelson

    Lie-Nielsen’s "Iron Miter Plane" is, according to Lie-Nielsen’s website, based on "European and especially English tools, going back to some of the very first planes made in Western Europe since Roman times." I have one and it is a pleasure to use.

    This wooden version looks very light by comparison. However, putting a little body weight down on the front and back handles would certainly compensate for any differences in the plane’s body weight.

    I suspect the Roman’s would have needed that extra weight on their planes to compensate for the metal in their blades. The extra weight would have allowed the Roman’s to drive quickly dulled blades through the wood. We are all very lucky to have modern steel for our blades!

  • Deirdre Saoirse Moen

    It wouldn’t have been terribly hard to make the whole thing, especially since it’s a laminated body (front, back, left, right, sole). The hardest part is the recess for the chipbreaker screw, really.

    I have to confess that I’ve bought several books on planemaking, but I haven’t read through them all. That said, I’m quite fond of Tod Herrli’s hollows and rounds video (which Lie-Nielsen stocks, and I’m sure other places do as well).

  • Chicago_Station

    Very interesting.

    How hard would it have been to make the entire body of the plane by yourself? Just curious because Hock sells the blade/chipper seperately.

    What’s your favorite book on making hand made planes?

  • Deirdre Saoirse Moen

    I made a plane from a Hock kit in a class — great fun. Now that you’ve posted about this one, I’ll have to try making another. I sort of shaped mine like a racecar. My husband wants me to paint it British Racing Green and put a white stripe on it.

  • Christopher Schwarz

    Here’s the grip: Three fingers in each hole, palms on top of the stock and the thumbs on the cheek nearest the user. It feels totally natural. When the plane is complete (soon!) I’ll post some in-use photos.


  • Javier

    I’m trying to visualize how to grip that thing.Does the thumb go in the front hole and the other four fingers around the front of the plane? If so, then why is that front hole so big? Just curious.Fun stuff, maybe in your next post you can show us a few shavings and a short review on the results. Thanks

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