travisher

Perhaps best known to chairmakers for hollowing seat bottoms, the travisher plane is one of those specialty tools that will get in where other tools fail to go. The concave blade and rounded body allows for scooping out recesses. The appearance and the handling of the travisher is similar to the spokeshave. Where the spokeshave allows for hollowing a dip in one direction, as in the transition from a square to a round on wood wheel spokes, the travisher will hollow where the recess sets into surrounding surface as in a chair seat.

Every trade has its quirky tools, and this one comes from chairmaking. Sit in a sculpted chair seat and you benefit from the ability of this plane to hollow out the shape to fit your bottom. Before Gil Chesbro and I teamed up to teach specialty planes, I had never seen a travisher or even heard the name. So this project owes much to Gil’s creative work, as does the spokeshave and cabinetmaker’s bow saw.

The travisher plane is one of those specialty tools that will get in where other tools fail to go. The concave blade and rounded body allows for scooping out recesses. The handling of the travisher is similar to the spokeshave. Where the spokeshave allows for hollowing a dip in one direction, the travisher will hollow where the recess sets into the surrounding surface as in a chair seat. As is fitting of a curved chair seat, this plane has no straight lines in either wood body or the blade. Both represent a conceptual challenge that if taken one step at a time will yield a working tool. When viewing the hard maple blank next to the finished plane body, I am reminded of the comment attributed to Michelangelo that the block of marble contains the classic statue waiting for the removal of unwanted chips. But before sculpting your classic, you must make the blade which is your pattern for locating the tang holes as well as particulars of the throat opening.

router plane 002

TO MAKE THE TRAVISHER (on right) you need a block of hardwood 2″ × 2½″ × 10″ (above), a tool steel blade 3/16″ × ¾″ × 6″ (below shown with ends cut out and beveled), and two set screws. The die for cold bending the curved shape is shown on left, and is used after the blade is cut and beveled.