Making My Bed – Planes for Planing Larger Tenons

I spent yet another day working against time but relaxed in my work. The pieces are slowly but surely coming together and I feel the contentment as each joints seats against its shouldered tenons. I find myself singing different songs and then stopping to stare at the shavings in ebony, oak and Sapele. I love the way my tools seem at rest in nests and the shavings deepen. Sometimes I clean off my bench but most times not until a particular aspect of work is done. Students seem always to put tools in neat rows after each task and that seems to me an impractical habit. My knives remain unfolded because I need them second by second. I like searching the shavings for a tool. Imagine such a thing; as chisels disappear I discover them deploy them to task. These are the things I like. I like the shavings around my ankles too – deep shavings that at one time took me all day to keep on top of. That’s when I was the only apprentice to eight men who planed wood all day.

DSC_0102 Yesterday I had to spend time on other projects but that went well and I returned to the bed inspired and happy. Sometimes. as I think about the work I work on, I think of the tools differently. Through the years I have acquired many tools. Some are gifted, some are bought new and some I buy via eBay. With the school and seeing so many students I like to test as many as I can so that I can advise as the efficacy of those that might otherwise lie unknown. DSC_0101 Making the large tenons I used mostly my paring chisel and the #4 or 4 1/2 planes. I also made use of the Veritas Jack-Rabbet plane which I have now used for several months. If you do work on wide tenons this plane is phenomenal and it’s not limited to that either. I will be using it for some of the rabbeting for the inlay work today so you might watch out for that too. DSC_0105 I used three planes on making the tenons and here are the three lined up. Of course they all work well and the ability to depth-adjust precisely makes for micro-adjusting during use, which I like to have. One thing; it’s important to start out parallel to the surface and so I use the hand router to ensure things are level.

My frieze is made up of some figured sapele and ebony. I like the concept of fielded panels skirted this way and created this type of frieze and book-matched panel when I designed the White House pieces in 2008/9.


I love to plane ebony and see its beauty emerge in glistening glory.

This the Woden version of the #78. I wasn’t too sure about the knob on the front when I first acquired it but on the large tenons it works really well. You can buy these stocky well-de planes quite cheaply via usually and it does have the twin bars that makes it rock-solid parallel too. DSC_0103


  1. Hello Paul, I’m looking to getting a block plane for Xmas and I was wondering what do you think of the Stanley sweetheart planes, not the old ones the new ones? Cheers

    1. It’s more and more difficult to know exactly the why’s and wherefores of tools come from these days. My experience of Stanley today is how disconnected the leaders and movers and shakers of Stanley are from their products, their manufacturers and so on. These people are living off of the Stanley reputation and not for what they produce today. This is especially true of tools and especially the specialised tools such as hand tools. I have found them lacking in quality and I trust very little of tools they have manufactured in their name in Mexico. I would be glad to test them out more thoroughly but do not feel I should buy them for that purpose. I would rather go for an older Stanley or Record. on eBay. They are cheaper and good quality and will last a lifetime even as a secondhand tool.

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