Krenov Style Hand Plane
Tool Project: Wooden planes have been used for thousands of years. In fact, from Roman times, until the industrial age, when planes made of cast iron became widely available, wooden planes were the only option. Now, woodworkers have a wide selection of planes, of various materials, available to them.
Even with the wide range of planes on the market today, many woodworkers still enjoy making their own wooden planes. And why not? It’s a near perfect project: building the very tool with which you do your future woodworking. What could be more enjoyable and fulfilling?
This Krenov style plane, named after James Krenov, is quite easy to make. And, when fitted with a Hock iron, it is sure to cut every bit as nicely as a high-end bronze low-angle plane.
This plane’s style was originally popularized by James Krenov, a great exponent of hand planing. The Hock iron, named after its maker, Ron Hock, is a much thicker iron than what is commonly mass produced. The thickness helps to significantly reduce plane chatter.
Throat and cross pin
Select Your Stock
This is a great project to experiment with an exotic wood. For the amount you will need, the cost outlay will be minimal, and, as an added bonus, most exotics are heavier and denser, so they are ideal for the task.
These two planes are made from a single piece of bubinga. Bubinga has a heavy feel, and a surface that is both silky smooth and cool to the touch. It makes for a most enjoyable tool. When choosing the wood for your project, try to imagine what a plane-sized piece would feel like in your hands.
Why make two planes? Aside from the fact that both have different irons (one straight and one curved), it has to do with how I make them. I use a jointer and a thickness planer to prepare the material for these planes, and although it is possible to run short pieces through them, it is much safer to run a 24″ piece through these machines than a shorter 12″ piece.
Prepare the Stock
Preparing the stock for the plane is basic. You’ll need two pieces for the sides (A) and one piece for the center block (B). How you go about this will depend on the material you have chosen. Because the center block will be cut in two and glued between the sides, it is important to prepare it as one piece first and then cut it to avoid working with pieces of unequal thickness during the glue-up. If you wish to make this from one solid block of wood, you will need to find stock thick enough to be resawn into the three components. The thickness depends on whether you will be using a band saw or a table saw for resawing. Once you re-saw the blank, use a jointer and thickness planer to prepare the two sides and center block. If you can’t find stock thick enough, simply glue up the center block from thinner stock. When the glue has set, bring the parts to the final dimensions using the jointer and thickness planer.
Prepare the Center Block
Bring the Pieces Together
The Cross Pin
Putting It Together
Shape the Plane
The iron is held in place by a wedge (D) that is placed between the cross pin and the iron.
There was a time when wood bodied hand planes were the de facto plane of choice in the workshop. Changing times and technologies largely replaced wood bodied planes with all-metal planes. By the time this occurred most woodworking was highly mechanized, with most furniture being produced in large factories. Even small woodworking shops strived to emulate the efficiencies and production rationale of the furniture factories. In 1975 a little known woodworker by the name of James Krenov published “A Cabinetmakers Notebook”, followed by “The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking” in 1977. These two books had an enormous impact on the woodworking community, particularly among furniture makers. Krenov’s approach to woodworking, and his heavy reliance on hand tools, precipitated the ‘studio furniture’ revival in North America. In 1981 he founded the College of the Redwoods’ Fine Woodworking School, where he taught and worked until his retirement a few years ago. The style of wood bodied hand plane that Krenov popularized has been affectionately named after him.