Thursday, November 05, 2009


Hi Folks
The traditional timber choice in wooden planemaking is quartersawn beech. The main reasons for its use are its toughness, ease of availability (at least in the UK) and, when quartersawn, its pretty stable. Beech is a very plain looking timber - white with faint grain markings and very tight grain. The pores are virtually invisible. But when quartersawn the medullary rays appear and transform this plain timber into something quite wonderful - to my eyes the ray figuring gives the appearance of scales on a fish, shimmering and darting. A coat of oil makes the effect pop right out of the timber.
I find getting hold of quartersawn stock to be extremely difficult, but the search is well worth it. The picture above hardly does the timber justice, but hopefully gives an impression of how handsome it can look.

On other matters, I've started work on a second "Inphill" plane. A slightly different design to the A6 inspired original, but I'm very excited about it. Hopefully it'll be ready for some pictures in a few days and you can tell me what you think.

To the 'bench.....



David said...

Good day Phil, What do you think is the adventages of a infill plane over a woodie? Espacialy one like your prototype, with a wooden sole?
thank you!
Realy like my skew mitre!
Best regard!

Philly said...

Hi David
The main advantages of an Infill type plane is the extra weight and the wear-resistance of the metal.
They don't work significantly "better" than a wooden plane, just different. The combination of metal and wood gives a whole different look, too. I've had a lot of customers ask me to make something along these lines (plus my imagination runs wild!) so I'm having a lot of making making this new concept of plane. No-one I've talked to has ever heared of such a thing :)

Glad you like your Skew - it's a unique plane. Enjoy!

Ethan said...

Inphill plane?

Och, that was a foul, foul pun indeed, Mr. Edwards!

I couldn't have said it better myself...

Olly Parry-Jones said...

Hi Phil,

I can understand your need for quarter-sawn timber but, depending on the dimensions you require, could you not buying thicker through-sawn stock and rotate it 90ยบ?

Saying that, beech can have less stability the thicker it is. As I discovered earlier this year, air-dried 3in. beech can split like b*****y if you cut in to it too soon!

As nice as it is to see you looking in to native woods ;-D , I wonder whether European (which is sometimes 'steamed') beech would be more stable?


Philly said...

Ethan - sorry, but I can't help myself ;)

Getting hold of suitable quartered or even through and through stock is difficult - I spend a lot of time searching for those special boards.
As for stability, Beech can have a reputation for movement. I break down new stock into plane sized billets - these are then stored on high shelves around the workshop. I regularly weigh the blanks and mark the weight and date on each - over the months I monitor the moisture loss until they gain equilibrium with my warm, dry workshop. Then they are ready to make planes.
Beech was used to make millions of planes for centuries - with proper preparation it is a stable and worthy material.
I've tried using the steamed Beech, but hate the pink colour - I much prefer the biscuit colour of regular beech.



Chris Schwarz said...


Your classic smoother is so heart-breakingly beautiful that I don't consider the infill (inphil!) an improvement.

What about following traditional practice and lining the sole of that plane with iron or steel? That would decrease maintenance. You also could (if you wanted to) make the mouth adjustable.

So glad you are trying new things!


Philly said...

That's very kind! I've thought about the metal toe arrangement (I've got three vintage smoothers with that arrangement)- might be worth investigating.