Making a Wooden Plane – Episode 1

Wooden Planes 1

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In this episode, Paul talks us through how to lay out all the parts of the plane. He goes on to cut the different sections of the body and make the wedge and wedge housing. This episode concludes with the gluing up of the plane body in preparation for the shaping


  1. George Bridgeman on 8 January 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Thanks guys. This looks like a really interesting series. Looking forward to it!


  2. Eddy Flynn on 8 January 2014 at 2:37 pm

    i look forward to making a couple of these thanks for another great can do tool build.

  3. John Moore on 8 January 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Mr. Sellers, you make it look easy. Thanks for taking the “complicatedness” out of it, stressing what is truly important, and making it possible for me.

  4. lilparker on 8 January 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Steel you have to use for your plane, Paul, a little info on it please.
    Choices of material to use for the blade?

    • Eddy Flynn on 8 January 2014 at 4:43 pm

      all the relevent materials are on the info page that was posted yesterday if you have any problems finding it give us a shout and i will post it here for you hope this helps

    • Greg Merritt on 8 January 2014 at 4:54 pm

      You could also read from Paul’s blog:

      • kjo on 7 December 2021 at 7:23 pm

        Please note that in the blog Paul states that the width of the steel should be 1 1/8″, but it should actually be 1 1/2″. He has a more detailed blog post on making the iron in which he states the correct width.

    • Sandy on 12 January 2014 at 3:09 pm

      Eddy, I believe Paul is using O-1 tool steel. Any high carbon steel could be used but from what I’ve read he will be getting into the heat treat and tempering process and that would be different for different alloys. I’d suggest staying with the O-1 for the sake of following Paul’s process.. But that is just my humble opinion..

      • Sandy on 12 January 2014 at 3:24 pm

        There’s where I need the edit button again… I meant to address that to Parker not Eddy…

  5. humanic on 8 January 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Very inspirational series. Thanks for this one.


  6. Florian on 8 January 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Great series – thanks!

  7. STEVE MASSIE on 8 January 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Great timing and looks to be another exciting project. I have a couple wooden planes and enjoy using them, I also have a couple basket case’s so now I know what to do with them. I want to make a couple of those stools and the 2 X 4 “compass” plane will come in handy.


  8. david o'sullivan on 8 January 2014 at 11:42 pm

    that was fascinating to watch .i really enjoy watching Paul work and explain as he goes. what i would really love to know is what exactly the joiner was doing with the door in the castle?

  9. EricH on 9 January 2014 at 2:21 am

    I have been admiring the shop built frame saw used in these master class videos. I have a larger frame saw that works well, but is a bit unwieldy to use because of its size on smaller projects. Will there be a video set covering this frame saw’s construction, or perhaps some sketches to use as a pattern to build one’s own, in the future?

    • Philip Adams on 9 January 2014 at 9:53 pm

      The bow saw is on our list of future projects to film, so will be online, hopefully in the next two or three months.

  10. George Bridgeman on 10 January 2014 at 9:52 am

    Regarding the 60 degree angle for the front block and why it’s a good choice for a plane with a 45 degree bed… From what I’ve read in other sources it seems that the angle gives enough room for the user to get their fingers into the mouth to remove jammed shavings, while leaving plenty of wood on the plane for shaping. Angles between 60 and 65 degrees seem the most common.


  11. Dave on 11 January 2014 at 12:13 am

    I’ve seen a lot of different kinds of wooden planes, all with wedges of course. I have seen a lot of planes that use a hardwood dowel drilled through the sides to act as a place to wedge instead of the dados showed by Paul. Is there any difference between these two designs in terms of how the planes perform? I bought a block of beech that will allow me to build 3 or 4 planes so I’m wondering if one or the other design is best suited to certain applications.

    • Greg Merritt on 11 January 2014 at 1:38 am

      Dave, I’ve used a couple that are made with the pin for holding the wedge and I’ve used a couple Japanese style where the blade is wedged shaped and wedges into the side grooves. I have not used one like Paul is showing. The main advantage that I see is that the body of the plane can be slightly narrower with Paul’s design. Plus, Paul’s design seams to be the predominant style in the historical record. The pin style was popularized by James Krenov and simplifies the construction. If Paul’s style was used for a couple hundred years virtually unchanged, it must work pretty well. I am excited to find out for myself. I don’t think that I answered your question but threw out some food for thought.

  12. Dave on 11 January 2014 at 2:02 am

    Greg, am not questioning the design as I plan to build one but rather if these different designs have advantages for specific applications. I’ll probably build a couple of each just for the fun of it 🙂

  13. Greg Merritt on 11 January 2014 at 2:20 am

    I didn’t think you were questioning the design. I was just pointing out that one style had been in use a lot longer than the other. I’ve not heard or read any negatives on either design and only have limited experience with the pin type. I think that this is going to be a lot of fun as well. I’m more excited to give the tempering process a try. That could open up a lot of other possibilities.

  14. Sandy on 12 January 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Another great project and a very useful tool to have in my skills tool set. Even though I’m not making one yet, I can get mentally prepared. I noticed that the glue up can be a challenge and I do have a question.

    Would it hurt anything if I gave my wedge a good coat of bees wax (so the glue doesn’t adhere to my wedge) and leave it in the assembly during the clamping and drying stage?

    • Sandy on 13 January 2014 at 7:15 pm

      Anyone want to weigh in on using the Bee’s Wax?

    • Greg Merritt on 13 January 2014 at 9:24 pm

      Sorry Sandy, I missed you posted question. I see no way that waxing the wedge will cause you any problems later. I just glued my blank up last night and took a close look at the wedge area. I know I saw a video that recommends waxing the ramp before glue up, but can’t remember what video it was, maybe on the Ron Hock site. They were addressing glue squeeze out and making it easier to clean it out.

      • Sandy on 14 January 2014 at 12:34 am

        Greg, I was watching this video a couple of days and and Paul went to a lot of effort to line everything up using the wedge and then when he knocked it out things moved. when he went back into the vise he had to eyeball everything back to where it should have been. So if I wax it, I don’t have to worry about getting it out until the glue sets up. I know what would happen with me. I wouldn’t get things eyeballed into the right place and be back to square one…. Just curious if the wax it’s self would cause and problems.

        • Greg Merritt on 14 January 2014 at 1:19 am

          I think Paul rushed the glue up a little for the video, for the sake of time. If you take your time, and simply hold the pieces in place for about a minute. The glue will grab and hold all in place while you clamp it. Good luck.

        • Dave on 14 January 2014 at 1:26 am

          Sandy, I’ve seen a number of articles on making wooden planes where they drill dowels during fitting to aid in lining things up during glue up. I’m going to try this approach on my practice plane before I build one out of hardwood.

    • Paul Sellers on 16 January 2014 at 9:41 pm

      Only that oit might grease your wedge and stop it from holding????

  15. Sandy on 12 January 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I’ll through in my two cents worth on the question of design. It appears to me that the design that Paul is teaching gives more support to a larger area of the wedge which transfers to more stability for the iron. Reducing the chances of getting chatter when the plan is introduced to the work piece. I would think that to be able to get the same effects you would have to increase the thickness of the wedge exponentially.

    • Sandy on 12 January 2014 at 3:16 pm

      I wish they would put the edit option on his comment section the same as the forum so I could fix my screw ups….I have been known to butcher the english language. In my previous post I was pointing out what appears to be the advantage to Paul’s method over using the hardwood dowel method. Sorry, I can’t type and think at the same time…

    • Greg Merritt on 12 January 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Most of the planes that rely on the dowel method seem to have blades with cap irons to address the blade support issue. The recommended blades for that type of setup are also much thicker.

    • menegatti71 on 13 January 2014 at 1:25 am

      I have built both designs, and my personal preference is Paul style. The iron feels a more solid lock and there is more finger room to pull out any stuck shavings.

  16. avillalo on 14 January 2014 at 1:37 am

    This series looks great! Congratulations Paul and the whole crew!!!!

    Recently I was looking veritas’s shooting plane, but it seems a little to expensive (Lie-Nielsen’s is even more expensive, about US$500!!!!!), and looking this series came to my mind to make my own wooden shooting plane.

    What do you guys think of skewed blades for shooting???


    • cagenuts on 14 January 2014 at 1:38 pm

      Alvaro, the trick with a wooden shooting plane is keeping the sole perfectly perpendicular to the side. With wood movement this may end up being a moving target.

      Not a bad idea though.

      • avillalo on 14 January 2014 at 1:52 pm

        Yeah, probably that’s the trickiest part… I would probably use the wood from an old wooden plane, hoping that wood it’s probably stable enough.

        Let’s see how it comes 😉

  17. Sandy on 14 January 2014 at 1:14 pm

    It must be Paul’s way of teaching. I’ve read several books on plane making and watched at least two other videos and I’ve learned more from Paul in this one video than I did in all the other media. I just need to go get some hardwood and start on making a real one. 🙂

  18. Sandy on 14 January 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Alvaro, i’m not sure what a shooting plane is but I can imagine what it would be just from the name. Give it a try and post pictures! 🙂

  19. Paul Sellers on 15 January 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I hasten to add my two-pence worth here. Whereas I do like shooting planes, they actually present the bevel to the wood at a very similar angle as the Plane-Jane smoother like the #4 and all the others. Adding the bed angle of 12-degrees or so to 30-degrees or so combines at 42-degrees. The bed angle for #4 is around 44-degrees. Barely any difference. Many makers say to sharpen the blade to 25-degrees to enhance their sales potential. 25-degrees is a much weaker cutting edge that often fractures early on in use. That said, go ahead an make one for the enjoyment. They do work.

  20. Chris Bunney on 10 March 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Another really interesting video – thanks Paul.
    I was wondering – before the invention of wood glue, how would these planes be put together? Would they be carved out of a single piece of wood?

    • RL on 10 March 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Presumably using hide glue which dates back several thousand years.

  21. Paul Sellers on 10 March 2014 at 9:54 pm

    This way is a practical and modern way and not too old. I think our method more mirrors the wedge of old whereas it was really Jim Krenov who revitalised plane making using split parts. Prior to the last three decades, most all planes were made from solid woods using special tools called floats that worked like massive toothed files that removed material to form the bed and the throat. Lie Nielsen makes floats that are very nice if you want to get into that aspect of solid-wood plane making. Re the glue, the Egyptians used animal glue and other depictions in stone show animal glue being prepared as early as 1500 BC. Glues were used in paints and inks by the Chinese to waterproof them and even though we use more modern glues such as PVA and chemical adhesives, no modern glue actually replaces animal glues for the use in instrument making and some aspects of furniture making, conservation and restoration and so on.

    • Chris Bunney on 11 March 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks Paul – I had never heard of floats before. I have an old wooden fore plane and it looked to be a single piece of wood – I wondered how they did it; now I know! Those Lie-Nielsen tools really are beautiful….

    • Jack Chidley on 24 April 2019 at 9:23 am

      More things learnt. I was wondering how they made solid planes and there is an example on youtube where someone uses a drill and chisels but it seemed a lot of work.

      It makes sense that, if plane making was your living, you’d need specalised tools, jigs and templates.

      I see now why woodworking is a lifetime pursuit: there’s so much to learn and to do.


  22. Orestis on 8 September 2014 at 9:07 am

    Great series Paul!
    I have a cutting blade ( 45mm width) from an older smoothing plane and i am thinking of making a new plane body for it, according to your video. My question is: how do i fit a handle to it? Or will the plane function just as well without a handle?

  23. sodbuster on 30 January 2016 at 3:27 am

    A couple of questions on details of method & parts to help me as I build my plane.
    1. How to mark out the wedge housing for the second side – use the same approach as for the first side, or take marks from the first (already cut) side to the second?
    2. Dimensions: The wedge stock looks to be 3/4″ thick. What thickness do you use. I ask because the marking technique shown will produce different angles as the thickness of the stock varies. (1/8″ up, then 50 mm along the top).
    3. The thickness (width?) of the centre piece will be 3/8″ less than the width of the iron? (3/16″ deep wedge housing on each side piece).
    4. How much ‘wiggle room” do you allow between the width of the iron and the inside width of the assembled plane? How do you finesse the parts to achieve this, before glue-up?

    Many thanks!

  24. Stephen Hillier on 18 February 2017 at 4:06 pm

    I don’t want to be over critical because I have found so much of Paul’s work an inspiration and have learned a lot of new tricks and techniques from his videos.
    I felt inspired to build a plane or three so I went out and got some Maple 60mm x 60mm. I have also ordered some tool steel for the iron from Cromwell. I ordered the 3mmx40mm Ground Flat Stock. Analysis percents: C 0.9 – 1.05; Cr 0.5 – 0.7; Mn 1.0 – 1.2; P 0.035 max; Si 0.15 – 0.35; S 0.035 max; W 0.50 – 0.70; V 0.05 – 0.15. Described as suitable for woodworking cutting.
    So i needed the bed of the plane to be able to take the 40mm steel (slightly wider than Paul’s 1 1/2 inch steel) and worked out that I could get this out of my stock by cutting into 2 x 10mm sides and 1 x 30mm centre allowing for the cuts for the wedge to be 5mm with 5mm left on the edge. I could use another slice to give me the wedge. Cut it on a band saw. Now my saw must have a wider cut than Paul’s because I lost a lot of width on my cuts. Then when I had smoothed the surfaces I ended up with my centre being about 26mm rather than the 30mm I wanted. Paul’s advice to use 2 inch square stock will not give the cutting you need for 2 x 3/8 sides and 1 x 1 1/4 centre. There is no allowance for saw cuts and smoothing.
    Paul’s Stanley planes on the videos always look bigger than when I get the same plane in my hands. I find that I cannot use a No 4 happily and prefer to use a combination of my 4 1/5 and 5 1/2 planes. I prefer the weight these give me.
    Having now got all the parts for my wooden plane prepared it looks awfully small. In Paul’s hands his plane looks a decent size. My version in my hands looks totally unusable.
    As a computer programmer in a previous life we had a saying you need to write the program twice, once to learn how to do it properly the second time so I am going back to the basic design. I shall make my plane from 60mm square stock (or maybe 60mm x 45mm so I can get the wedge off the top). I shall be making it 150mm long.
    I hope I have not upset Paul by my comments but as he says he does like to give us the techniques so that we can work out for ourselves what works best for us. Thank you Paul.

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