Ebony Hand Plane

After cutting some fretboard blanks recently, I was left with a small offcut of Ebony. I always try to get as much use as possible from the wood I buy, nothing goes to waste, especially with the more exotic timbers.. so inspired by my recent chisel plane project, I decided to attempt to make a hand plane.

The style of this plane is based on those made by the late James Krenov. The usual method of making a Krenov plane is to take a single piece of wood, cut the sides off, cut the bed angles out of the centre block, add the cross pin and then glue the sides back on. However, my piece of Ebony wasn't thick enough for that, so instead I cut the piece in half.. one half will be the centre block and the other half is cut into three pieces: two sides and a piece to make the wedge out of later.

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Even using this method, the centre was still a little narrow for the blade I'd brought, so I added some Maple veneers to make up the width. Once the glue had dried, I cut the bed angle (the front section is curved to help the stop shavings clogging up).

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To stop the wood sliding about under clamping pressure, I fitted a couple of dowels on each side. I also drilled the hole for the cross pin before gluing. The style of cross pin I used meant that the pin itself could be fitted afterwards.. if you're making one of these yourself and you're using a solid wooden cross pin, then don't forget to add it before gluing the sides back on!

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After drawing a rough outline, the shape was cut on the bandsaw and then tidied up on the drum sander. Once this was complete I also shaped the rear of the plane to make it fit nicely in the hand.

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To make the cross pin, I used the offcut of wood left over from cutting the bed angle in the centre block.

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The cross pin is completed by fitting a brass rod through the middle, and then filing it flush with the sides. I then made a wedge to secure the blade and after flattening the bottom of the plane, I put everything together for a first test run.

The cut was fairly heavy at first, partly due to the blade not being fully honed at this stage but also due to my lack of plane-adjusting skills, as wooden planes are new to me!

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After final sanding, I wiped on a few coats of melamine lacquer, followed by a couple of coats of wax. I also rounded off the top of the blade to make it more comfortable in the hand.

There's one of two things I'd do differently on the next one, but overall the plane turned out better than I'd expected for my first attempt, and now that I'm getting the hang of adjusting it, I'm getting some really nice shavings. I'll certainly be making more in the future :)

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