The No. 984 panel plane, currently in production, will be the last run of commercial handplanes in Karl Holtey’s legendary and innovative 26-year career. His first original design is shown above.
I had the chance early on in my time at Popular Woodworking to handle several of his incredible tools, and take a few shavings. It was about a year after I joined the staff and maybe 1 week after I’d memorized the style book, and could reliably spell rabbet and moulding (yes, we use the “u”). I had “used” a handplane but a handful of times; I might have had one lesson in sharpening. In other words, I knew the words, but I didn’t know the tools.
Now, with a decade+ of woodworking experience and a lot of planing under my belt (with some good, some bad and some excellent tools), I wish I could try Holtey’s planes again. Maybe I’ll someday have the chance.
With Holtey’s retirement on the near horizon, we asked U.K.-based woodworker/luthier/writer Kieran Binnie to write a retrospective of Holtey and his work. It was in our June 2016 issue, but you can read it here, free.
— Megan Fitzpatrick
For more on handplanes of all types and how to use them, check out the many videos and books in our online store on the subject.