No greater satisfaction than this

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.

Designing these credenzas for the White House Permanent Collection, making them and delivering them, was the highlight of my final work in the USA. My router plane is my gift to the world of hand tool woodworking.

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?

54 thoughts on “No greater satisfaction than this”

  1. Amazing, I have been looking for a router plane for over a year now but the prices are just too high. I am looking forward to making this beautiful tool, as I have already made plenty of others from your videos. The cutter will be probably the biggest challenge to make – if i was from England i would benefit greatly from a kit of the metal components.

    1. The kit will be shipped from the UK and will include the tool steel blade but you will indeed be doing the metalworking, which is far from complicated and goes very quickly. The next episode of the video gives this. We already have the facility for shipping as we do for my books etc.

      1. Paul,

        Will the new version of your course on DVD or whatever media be compatible with the original two volume book? Already have the Book for the course.

        Cheers,
        Jeff

  2. Absolutely brilliant, I was fortunate to buy the veritas router plane 5 years ago which is great and back then I cost me 70 pounds. This was a major investment for myself but not unattainable for a lifetime tool, however these days the prices of veritas tools have gone up massively making them now unattainable. I believe veritas tools are excellent and back then they were a bargain compared to other modern premium makers. I will certainly be making a few of these thanks Paul and team absolutely first rate
    Best Rob

    1. Rob, I don’t know if this is available outside Canada but Veritas is having a “seconds” sale Wednesday, October 27 at 12:00 noon EDT. I bought several items last year at a considerable discount and I couldn’t even see what the flaw was that caused them to be considered seconds. It might be worth checking out. I have no connection to Lee Valley/Veritas and I hope this doesn’t violate Paul’s posting policies. If it does, my apologies.

      1. These Veritas cutting irons are of no consequence to my post as they are completely different cutting irons and will not fit my router planes and cannot be adapted for such either.

  3. J.W. van der gaag

    Hi Paul,

    Just subscribed a few days ago.

    Chapeau for you, your work and most of all:
    Sharing it with the community for no nothing……. . I was raised the same way “if its not on your hands nor in your money bag, use your brains and try to find a solution”

    I like you man,
    Best regards,
    JW.

  4. Hi Paul,

    I belong to a local hand tool group. This was a project we did. Mine is different from yours but is still made of wood. It was a fun project. We bought the blade from Lee Valley. It was $15 I believe. Still much better than the $30 – $50 I see them selling for on Ebay now. The hand tool boom has made most tool prices ridiculous in my opinion.

  5. Hi Paul, Some time ago I made my own wooden router with screw adjustment to raise and lower a standard Veritas or Stanley router blade in fine increments. It works fine and I use it regularly. But, as expected, your new router design looks far superior and I’m already gathering together the bits needed to make one. Thank you for designing and sharing this wonderful new tool with us.

  6. Unfortunately, since Brexit, buying from UK means for us in EU extra custom fees which didn’t exist before and which might double the price of a such a small kit.
    It seems the fees for paper work are not proportional to the item value.
    The VAT we would always have had to pay anyway.

    1. Yes. An $8 book from the US to the eu ended up costing over £57 by the time the ‘estimated taxes‘ on an ‘estimated cost” set by the eu state member of the still $8 book which the eu import estimator suddenly valued at €40, ignoring all legal declarations on my part even though the price was indeed clearly shown on the back of the book. Such is the eu, I suppose. I couldn’t quite work out their guesstimation system but who ends up paying? The recipient, who didn’t know the price of the gift as is the way when you send gifts. I don’t altogether think that Brexit is to blame. It was posted in the USA!!!

      1. Well, I guess, this situation has always been such for goods from outside EU. What is new is that now UK is also outside EU.

  7. Hi Paul,
    I agree that there is something special about making your own tools. I’ve made a few and really enjoy them. Recently, I went out to McMaster Karr and other side and bought some high carbon steel and brass. Now I can make my own blades as well as some brass parts. It’s exciting to have the ability to make tools. Much like I feel unbridled potential with wood, the brass and steel gives me the same warm comforting feeling. Would love to use one of my summer vacations to take a machine shop class or two as well.
    Sincerely,
    Joe

  8. Very Exciting. I was lucky to win a Stanley 71 1/2 this year on eBay. It has offered a great introduction to router planing. I will definitely order a kit when they become available. I love the idea of making it myself. Thanks Paul!

  9. I already built the wooden body part, in the spur of the moment based on your first video, but just can’t find local metal parts to continue… which is unfortunate for the moment. I did find them on the Chinese market, but the delivery takes almost two months. Please consider adding drawings and kits to the smaller versions too, if the variations are important to consider.
    Thank you so much for this wonderful gift you give to the world!

  10. A couple of years ago I retired to Oaxaca in Mexico from Albuquerque in the USA. You have mentioned you can ship internationally. Are you able to ship to Mexico and apply the required duties to the international invoice?

    Thanks

  11. I am so excited about this project.
    Can’t wait to watch the second part of the video.
    And I am also interested in the kit, although I need to try and find how much will it cost me. Do you still ship to Portugal? I bought one of your books a few months ago and I payed more from taxes and customs than the book it self but it was sure worth it!
    I will buy the other one as soon as I can.
    Love you Paul. Thank you and your team for all you do and share with the community.

  12. Joel D Canfield

    Another YouTube woodworking guru said, after dissing a $75 ‘cheap’ plane, “Call me a tool snob . . . ”

    Indeed.

    Some of us, as you clearly know, sir, just don’t have the funds for tools that gent would use. Now I’m retired, I can’t afford nice tools, but I still need my woodworking to keep me out of pool halls and speakeasies. Eager for the hardware kit so I can make one of these.

    Now, if you can solve my plough plane problem, I’ll be all set . . . for a month, at least.

  13. Hi Paul brilliant as usual….thank you

    I have made mine with vertical adjustment. using a notched Allen key
    ( hexagonal in cross section and made in various sizes…..used for screws with internal hexagonal recesses.)
    The notch is used to engage a washer on a thread imbedded to give rise and fall.
    So simple but perfect in action …as good as a Stanley or record tool. Key cutter is held in place by a threaded eye bolt ….simple dimple
    Cost. From scraps and spare Alan key £0.00
    Secret is when sharpening cutter to grind heal up to avoid drag.
    Just used mine to make several stopped housings in a cabinate same as Paul’s clock case.
    Thank you Paul…..john 2 v

  14. Personally I dislike the kit idea. I think it takes away from the “making” of your own tool and turns you into an assembler of parts. Use your own ingenuity and resourcefulness to find a solution for the parts you don’t have.

    1. Yes. we all, all get that. I’m glad you now point out that you don’t like kits and that that is your personal preference, Chris. That’s one of those things that people are entitled to called just an opinion. My point is that it is and should be accepted that different strokes for everyone happen and we should see that a kit is just perfect for some people according to their circumstances, preferences and then too their personal ability. I bought a kit, a flatpack, for a particular application and need comprising 50 components and had it together in an hour. It’s been in use since then on a daily basis. I could have made it perfectly well at a cost of ten times the price and it would have taken me a week to do so. Am I judged some kind of failure for doing so. Not at all. I think we will end this now. I do not want anyone walking away from this thinking that somehow they cheated or failed because some metal parts came to them in a plastic package to save timer, money and effort. The plane will still be made by them when all is said and done.

      1. And one probably has to buy much more material than strictly necessary.
        It is not difficult to buy things by the hundreds or by length of 2m, it is more difficult to find where to buy a few pieces from a local supplier.
        Unfortunately I don’t know of any club here in Belgium/EU which could make a grouped purchase to avoid the UK-EU custom problems.

    2. I think I am quite resourceful when it comes to Googling for tools and parts (and am in the enviable position having close relatives in a few countries better fit for such purchases that my own). Still, the best source of O1 steel I could find offered me 2 metres of 8.2 mm material for a hefty €134. I will not choose that option, you probably understand. Even with the ridiculous extras we now pay for goods coming from the UK, I will be much better with Paul’s kit.

  15. Friedrich H. Hinrichen-Mohr

    Dear Paul and Team,
    The picture above shows the new routers hanging at the shelf. How did you hang them is there an extra hole at the base to hang the router to the hook on the shelf?

  16. This is such a great project and solution for the rocketing prices of these planes! I’m just curious, why did you opt for a bevel-down design (as opposed to bevel up which most mass made router planes use)? I’ll definitely be making this so I can experience the difference first hand!

    1. The bevel-up cutting iron is more complicated and denies angled presentation of the plane iron as I did and with no advantage exceeding the simplicity of creating the bedding of the iron at an angle as I did.

  17. I can’t connect with woodworking masterclasses site since saturday. It gives back an error. Does anyone have the same problem or is it a my-connection question?

  18. Thanks for this Paul! I’m hoping to make one out of Australian Blackwood! Will try and look for hardware locally, but a shipped kit would be super appreciated!

    While we’re on the subject of router planes, do you have any tips for fixing a wooden sole to a #71? I tried to attach mine using wood screws, screwed in from the top, but found that they always came loose after a few hours of using it.

    1. Hi Michael. For the piece of wood I attached to my 71 clone, I used a thick piece of wood for strength then traced out the shape of the router plane onto the wood and routed that shape out of the wood (with the 71 of course) so the 71 sat inside the wood so to speak. That meant that the 71 is held tight in the wood and was lower down so I did not lose too much depth adjustment. Then the screws (screwed in from the top) hold the wood to the router plane. Much less stress on the screws with the plane in a recess this way as it stops side to side movement of the router. For specifics I used an 18mm think piece of tassie oak and recessed it by about 9mm so the wood directly under the 71 is about 9mm thick. You could consider whether this method suits you. Perhaps a simpler option I have not tried – use some double sided tape between the 71 and the wood to stop the side to side movement and then there is less stress on the screws.

    2. Michael, I have had the same wooden soles on mine for years, ten at least, and they have never come loose. They are 1/2″, (12mm) and so I don’t really understand why yours loosens so.

    3. I used a couple of M5 countersunk Allen screws, inserted from below and sunk just below the surface to avoid damaging the workpiece. Choose screws long enough to pass through the threaded holes in the No 71 and put a washer and Nyloc nut on each. I have no problem with them coming loose.
      Hope this helps.

  19. I was just at the point of just biting my lip and paying the money for a Preston replica that is well made but terribly expensive. Now I don’t have to. Once again, your gentle nature and patient hand guided me to a better solution. Also, it’s mine, made by my hands. Hope our children will appreciate it as they hold it years after we are gone.

  20. Read an article about scientists making wood 5x sharper than steel and 32 times denser than the type of wood it started out as with a chemical bath and some kind of hot iron press. They said it was far greener than steel because of lower embodied energy costs. Also a Swedish 20 story tower out of plywood. We live in a wooden Renaissance!

    To me science is indistinguishable from magic.

  21. What do you do if you want a different width blade? Grind down the iron to 1/4″or 1/8″ or get larger tool stock and grind down the shank to fit the dado?
    Make a plane for each size blade?

    1. interesting question.
      When grounding the sides of the 10 mm square iron to have a narrower iron, one has to take into account that it must still be guided laterally when nearly fully retracted. This, on the other side, means that it can not protrude more than about the sole thickness (about 25 mm here), otherwise the wider part of the iron would also protrude.
      Note that the maximum depth seems to be about 30 mm with the 10 mm wide iron. (using the last iron notch and turning the knurled knob).
      Going deeper would need a longer iron.

  22. Paul:

    It seems that most of us have forgotten how to make what we need, or to even figure out what we need. We’re not taught, as a rule, how to see a problem, then see a solution and just fix it. I see it less and less with each passing generation.
    I am glad that you further the attitude, we can do it. There is so much to learn along the journey. Part of our confidence stems from knowing we can. Will it be as polished? Maybe not, but it will work just as well.
    Thank you for reminding us of this.
    I am, definitely, interested in getting the kit when available. Kits are necessary these days, as sourcing some of the needed parts has become even more difficult.

  23. Hi Paul,

    I love the kit idea and I’ll no doubt be getting one, but I also love recycling and making tools from other tools (sometimes successfully…), would something like a masonry chisel be made of the right steel for this? Is there another tool that comes to mind that one might find in a second hand shop / scrapyard which would have the right kind of steel and be big enough to chop up? I realise I’m signing myself up for a month of filing but it’s better than watching the telly!

    Cheers, Ross – Melbourne, Australia

  24. in case it hasn’t been mentioned, in the US you can get O1 3/8 square steel from McMaster-Carr. part number 9516k99 (I think).

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