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An Updated Infill Shoulder Plane

By: Phil Huber
A custom shoulder plane is a pleasure to build and use.

Infill shoulder plane

In my home shop, I have quite a few "rescues" from the Woodsmith shop that I couldn't bear to see thrown out. One of those, is a photo prop from an old ShopNotes project, an infill shoulder plane. It consisted of the two sides dovetailed to the sole. Not much and could easily be recycled.

Perhaps the biggest downside of working at a woodworking magazine is the constant state of stimulation in tools, project ideas, techniques ... That extends to the things we create: samples, props, prototypes, and even the projects themselves.

However, I brought the plane body home where it sat in a drawer for several years -- I even tried to give it away, twice. Well, the lockdown and quarantines of 2020 opened up some time for me to complete it.

plane inspiration

The original version was inspired by a classic Spiers model. That would have been the quickest route to completion. But I wanted to customize the look. So I sketched out a few shapes and settled on one that blended some of the styling of the Veritas shoulder planes with those from Sauer & Steiner planes.

Plane mockup

One key detail is how the infill (wenge) rises above the brass sides. On many infill shoulder planes, you don't get to see much of the wood. On my version, the front infill creates the primary silhouette at the front along with the wedge.

shoulder plane profile

The ShopNotes plan also incorporates a mechanical blade adjustment and like that in a plane. And creating that detail was a lot easier than I thought.

The body on this piece was wider than the blade that was paired with it. I ended up spending most of the time sanding the body down using my drill press edge sander.

The brass alloy we typically use in projects like these is freecutting. Which means that it won't gum up blades. I cut the body on the band saw. Then used a combination of a router and files to create the chamfers.

The body is sanded to 220 and I used a brass aging solution and some dark wax to tone down the brassy-ness. The wood parts have several coats of clear shellac.

shoulder plane and block plane

While this plane took more time than I thought (in planning and building), it looks great and works well, too. I even think it makes a good pair with my block plane -- also a ShopNotes rescue.

Published: Aug. 18, 2020
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Topics: hand plane

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