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Thread: Custom Built Plane

  1. #1

    Custom Built Plane

    I am going to need a little forgiveness and leeway here. I know this is supposed to be for Old Tools only, but since most of the people on here are VERY knowledgable about the age-old principals of hand plane design, I thought this would be the place to post this crazy idea.

    What I am contemplating is crafting my own custom designed and built plane.

    As a machinist, welder and fabricator I think I have the skills, knowledge and facility in which to pull off a Travis Johnson hand plane exclusive. Now I have no illusions of having this mass produced, just a one-of a kind hand plane for myself.

    For starters I was thinking about making this hand plane out of my favorite type of steel...Stainless Steel. Polished up to a bright sheen, I think it would look almost futuristic. I am not thinking about creating one like the past, rather I was thinking about a Jetson's styled plane, with hard angles and Stealth Fighter type look. Of course I cannot change the basic design principals of a plane, so I was thinking something along the lines of a Stanley #62 would make for a great tool to use around the shop, and also show off in a unique style.

    I will spare you all the crazy ideas I have milling about my head (pun intended) right now, but I thought I would throw this out there for people to think about. Aside for being one crazy idea, what do you see as some of the pitfalls and pleasures about crafting a one of a kind, futuristic plane?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    travis, i know of no pitfalls to building your own tools other than a few years later saying "i coulda-shoulda"...enjoy and show us pics of the process...tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Forest Grove, Oregon USA
    Hi Travis--no worries on new vs vintage here. Both era's hand tools are applicable.

    Like Tod said, the only pitfall is in not acting while it is of importance to you. It sounds like a fun project. As for futuristic, Millers Falls had a line of tools during the 1950s into the 1960s called the Buck Rogers line. Certainly for their day, they capsulized the future.

    Randy Roeder has done a lot of work as regards Millers Falls tools. Here's a picture of one such plane:

    Randy's web site is here:

    Have fun above all else.

    Take care, Mike
    Wenzloff & Sons Sawmakers

  4. #4
    There is a saying in the Machinists trade...there are good jobs out there, we just don't have them....Well I do not agree with that entirely, I must admit that I have plenty of time to think about stuff, mull things over and day dream while the machines run or I am polishing up steel.

    Some of those thoughts lately have been on making my own hand plane from scratch. Well with all the talk about the Stanley #140 on that other post on here, I got to thinking about making one of those type planes. I am not really sure why. Without a question it was my favorite plane of all time and was a joy to make when I worked at Lie Nielsen. Rebuilding the old Stanley #140 was fun too, so I got to thinking that maybe being a new one from scratch would be kind of cool too.

    As for steel, I still not sure. Because I am in the Maritime Machinist field now, we use 316L Stainless almost exclusively, followed closely by aluminum, then plastic, then brass and surprisingly enough, mild steel bringing up the least used steels. I bring this up because I was thinking about maybe using a combination of the two, and dare I say, yes even using plastic?

    I don't mean to keep bringing up this topic without any action or pictures behind it, but I like to get a bunch of ideas, and then run with a decent plan, rather then get willey-nilley into a project. Just looking for thoughts and ideas on this basically right now.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    travis, if you`ve got the time and inclination write a program to mill the body out of a 316 billit.....heck there might even be a market for stainless planes?
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  6. #6
    Steve Clardy Guest
    How about building a prototype out of aluminum? Easy to mill

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Hi Travis.

    Being myself an industrial designer and woodworker one of my dream projects is to design a plane, but I neither have the skills nor the machinery for metal work. In fact I do have a small Wabeco metal lathe but that is the farthest I can go.

    If it you fancy it, maybe we could team up, I'll work the design together with you and you build one extra plane for me.

    Distance is a drawback, different measuring systems a nuissance and most problably your ideas will differ from mine.

    Give it a thought and let me know. Who knows? "this could be the beginning of new friendship" or of a new tool manufacturing enterprise.
    Best regards,

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

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