Few things give me greater satisfaction than resolving problems. As my boys grew up, in answer to a presented problem, my answer was always, “Be a solution.” If they needed help, I helped them. Usually, my answer galvanised them to do something necessary and they never balked at this kind of encouragement. They made the tool they needed, the workbench, the bed, the mallet, the bedside cabinet, the violin, the guitar, the book, the business, and more. Each one of them took every problem they faced, became a solution and changed what wasn’t into a what was and is. They made and make the difference. My hand-made hand router plane has been met with an incredible welcome and even though `I knew everyone would receive it for what it was, a genuine resolve to solve an issue of deep concern to me, I do feel overwhelmed at your responses across the globe. Thank you!
I will flesh out this offering as we go through the weeks and answer honest questions as best I can if I can. When I took the two-by-four from my wood scraps I had already mapped out my plan in my daily journal where just about all of my ideas get the start to the journey and to wood on my workbench. The wood, spruce, was soft and easy to work. Within an hour I had the main body of the plane together and glued up with superglue. Screws went in for added support and to say the first level of boring, grooving and handling was rough was generous. But when the steel went in, with a cutting edge, the excitement was palpable. I had ground the bevel at 25-degrees to a pretty fine level and tried out the plane. There it was. the cutting edge kissed the surface of the housing dado and shavings of elm peeled off like onion skins. At last and at least, I had the answer to a very inexpensive router plane that people anywhere in the world could own. The next quest for me is to get the steel to them at a good and fair price, I think. And I think I have that too.
My new cluster of planes are different sizes and of course, improvements will be bolt-on and not changes to the original final iteration given this week. Personally, this took me to the same level of fulfillment and excitement as the first time I revealed the White House pieces in January 2009 when I opened the doors to a local audience of neighbours who came to see the ‘secret design’ we’d been working on for weeks day and night. That revealing preceded the delivery as new designs to the Permanent Collection and the Cabinet Room where Presidents and Senators would gather to discuss and debate world affairs. Could this simple router plane mean as much to me as these? Well, I have to say it. Though it is very different, the anticipation just kept building and building. As Joseph and I finalised the drawings from my rough sketches and then the final planes this recent week, I was fit to burst at the mere thought that we would be revealing the solution to what was becoming a serious problem. Not only does it mean no more waiting for a premium plane to come off the production line, you now have the capacity to make your own top a level that matches the very best. I thought that this list of why this is the best router plane might help. I wrote it in answer to the question: “Can I ask why you believe this is the best in the world and better than any premium router plane?”
1: I made it. I think that this is more important than we might at first think. Making as many of our own tools is to equip ourselves with the ability to work wood. This is especially important when we just cannot get the tool we need for whatever reason or reasons that might be.
2: One of mine cost me less than £4. This brings this together for those of us who just do not have the money beyond going from cheque to cheque and week to week to pay our bills.
3: By adjusting and setting the retainer bar pressure, you can change the depths of cut with a turn of just the depth adjuster alone. Few planes allow this level of versatility.
4: The depth does not alter once the adjuster is turned to the depth you want.
5: Each turn of the adjuster is positive and without question, it has no variable. It is possibly the most positive adjustment `I have ever had in a router plane.
6: There is zero rattle, whereas you always expect that with metal-on-metal versions of the router plane because they constantly loosen the screws, bolts and nuts by the rigors associated with routing; wood absorbs this kind of phenomenon.
7: The option for varying the size of the plane to match your hands is right there in your hands for the making; half an inch longer, two inches? Makes no difference.
8: You can make many different body types, as I ultimately did, for specific needs. I made a longer one for long tenons. This gives me added leverage in the swiveling sweeps I use for refining and deepening the cheeks of tenons as well as big and expansive recesses.
9: No need to retrofit a wooden base piece unless you want a metal one, of course.
10: Wood on wood is always going to be good. None of the marring associated with all-metal soles, much slicker, and smoother to operate.
11: Lighter weight than the all-metal versions.
How’s that for starters?