- A mallet
- Chisels (and gouges?)
- Two hand planes
And in the box under the bench an oval honing stone and a glue pot with a brush.
But rather than only make some props (a nice but quite useless exercise) I want to have some working planes and use them in the shop.
The plane on the foreground looks like a smoother, the one in the background like a jointer. Two things stand out: the jointer bulges out in the middle, and the smoother has a sort of horn at the front. A similar model can be found in the “Melencolia I” engraving by Albrecht Dürer (1514).
The handle looks like it resembles a bone. Perhaps a remnant of earlier plane models? Although to my knowledge planes that have a bone for a handle haven’t been found. But on the other hand one of the earliest planes we know – a Roman one – has a body made of ivory…
I chose oak as a material for the planes. Why oak and not beech? Because I had a large piece of dry oak in the shop, in the form of a solid slab table from the seventies (the legs of which became the pattern makers vise). Beside this the Japanese have used oak plane bodies for centuries, and we can’t accuse them of being bad craftsmen or having bad woodworking tools.
The plane blade was found at a fleamarket years ago, made in Sheffield in the early 1900’s.
Last week I tried this plane while thicknessing the soundboard of a baroque guitar. It works VERY well. Once you get the hang of it, adjusting the blade with a mallet can be just as precise and easy as its more modern equivalent. After a while it feels very natural and intuitive. The ‘horn’ feels and holds quite ergonomic, Another upside is the weight of the plane (709 g) less than half of the Stanley (1749 g), a difference you will feel best after a long day of working with them…
A tool more enigmatic was the jointer plane. The bulging middle was something the experts I asked had no explanation for. One suggested that Amman had a hard time drawing straight lines… Really? The rest of the engraving is basically built up out of straight lines. So the drawn shape clearly was intentional.
But why to make it wider in the middle? To give it more ‘flesh’ around the blade perhaps?
Sometimes the only way to find something out is to abandon the theory and just try the thing in practice. So I started making the 2′ long plane from the same block of oak used for the first plane.
The reason occurred to me when I took up the plane body after sawing of the sides: The rather large block was much easier and more pleasing to hold. It fitted in my hands, instead of being a rather oversized block.
Just like the first plane this one is rather easy to work with. I’ve even used it to join a soundboard. And even though I find this task easier with a modern jointer plane and a shooting board. But I can imagine that – with some training – it will be just as easy. Especially combined with a “Moxon-vise” and the routine the old makers had. Judging from surviving shop inventories, most workshops were probably small factories, where every worker had a specific set of tasks.
I intend to use these planes for historical instruments. If the old makers could make their masterpieces with planes like these, why can’t we?