Substitute for European Beech?

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    Greg M

    Paul seems to use / recommend Beech for plane and mallet making among other wooden tools. Unfortunately, I cant’t seem to source any where I live and I would love to try making a wooden plane.

    I would appreciate your suggestions for alternatives. I have some Sapele and Zebrawood, red oak, cherry, and curly maple. Are any of those good choices?


    Jacob Martin

    In Paul’s Introduction to Making a Wooden Plane video, they have in the description, “We would recommend a hard and dense wood such as maple, beech, mahogany or laurel.” So it seems that either sapele or maple from the list you listed would be fine.

    Greg M

    Great! I seem to have missed that. Thank you 🙂

    Thomas Angle

    Depends on where you live. Osage Orange works well.

    Arbovale, WV

    Proverbs 18:13
    13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.


    If you are in the U.K. have you tried Workshop Heaven who sell quarter sawn Beech 4×4″ for plane making?

    Larry Geib

    Beech blanks are available here:


    Dried and ready to go. I didn’t say cheap.

    You mentioned Cherry, and it will make a good plane, as will just about any fruitwood with a diffuse-pourous grain. Several,planemakers are selling cherry planes.

    Apple, steamed plumb are classic choices that were considered better then beech.

    American beech, maple and birch will also be good.

    Japanese planes are a white oak.

    But if you have a lumber dealer that lets you browse the stacks, I’ve come across the occasional quarter Sawn or riffsawn piece in with the flatsawn stuff. They don’t actually stock those cuts.

    Then I do a sheepish pay at the counter and Whistle to my car before somebody figures it out and wants to set it aside as premium. ( Hey, it’s their grading system). Maybe they do it so I purchase more than I went in the store wanting to buy.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by Larry Geib.

    @lorenzojose have you used any of those billets? They make many nice claims on their web pages, but am wondering if someone has actually ordered and found the materials to be good. For the 1″ moulding plane billets, they work out to $40/bf even when I give them a 1/4″ credit for extra material for surfacing.

    Larry Geib

    Yeah, I said not cheap.

    But it doesn’t hurt so much if you think of it as just the cost of the plane. I bought a coffin smoother blank for $24 and that seemed fair after trying to source it otherwise. Nobody mills this stuff. Every once in a while, a plane maker might offer blanks on his website, but not consistently, and not much cheaper.

    The blank ( included wedge blank) was perfect and is acclimating to my shop now. It pretty much has to be. Nobody will pay that money for something they can’t use.
    No supplier wants returns.

    Just don’t make a mistake cutting the blank up.

    The price seems what the market will bear. Blackburn tools has similar pricing for American beech blanks.

    I forget where I got the link, but I think it was from Caleb James when he decided he couldn’t get enough to even supply himself. When he started out, he would buy custom milled lots and sell off excess. People buy his stuff, so he now has no excess. He’s got some stock curing, but right now he sources from others.

    Another possible source is Horizon wood products, who supply’s to Old Steet’s Larry Williams, but I think you have to buy quantity.

    Like I said, Every once in a while I come across 5/4 stock that’s rif or quarter Sawn, but that’s just dumb luck from a piece slipping past the grader. Thicker stuff doesn’t seem to exist in the commercial world except in custom milled lots.

    The part that always gets me is that I used to build a lot of staircases and bannisters. I cut off a lot of American beech ends bigger than what I paid $24 for and used them to heat the shop.
    There is a cat post in the den made out of it.

    Lots of Birch, walnut, and white oak, too.

    (All you euro guys are probably getting a chuckle over our tribulations sourcing beech.)

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by Larry Geib.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by Larry Geib.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by Larry Geib.
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