Jack Plane

There are three basic parts to this plane: the wood body, the cutter, and the adjustment mechanism. The Pierce plane body was what started the venture, and was easiest for a woodworker like myself to make. The design copies his work which is gratefully acknowledged (Fifty Years a Plane Maker and User, by Cecil E. Pierce with drawings by Sam Manning, Monmouth Press, Monmouth, Maine, 1992). What is different is the method of construction and the blade holding cap. Instead of starting with a single wood block, I start with three, one core and two side boards.

The blade is made from O1 tool steel available from mill supply catalogs in an 18″ length for about $20, enough for three blades. Two reasons exist for doing your own. One is being able to make exactly the kind of blade needed for the plane. The second is finding out how blades are made. I incorporate blade making in all my tool workshops. I have heard from students that the blade forming and hardening is an epiphany.

The third element is the blade adjustment mechanism. For hundreds of years, shop-made planes, the kind that apprentices made for themselves in the course of becoming a journeyman, had a wedge for holding the blade. Then in the period 1875 to 1900 a series of developments occurred resulting in the modern plane. The ability to advance and retract the blade by screw mechanism rather than tapping a wedge, won over the market and made us unfamiliar with working any wedged plane.

This project first appeared in Popular Woodworking Magazine #189, April 2011

Here is a review and video by Christopher Schwarz