In this video, I take a cheap, generic hand plane I bought for a few cents at a local second-hand sale, and by re-using the iron and chip breaker, I am able to create a coffin-style plane out of a block of cherry I had laying around.
Rather than mortising out a single, large block of wood, I laminated two thinner pieces together from a longer piece. This facilitated the build process in a number of ways, but it also added other slight complications.
Please note that I am not an expert of planes, particularly wooden body planes. I really enjoy hand-tool woodworking and sharing my experiences, however. So, my hope is that if you want to build a traditional style coffin plane smoother (as opposed to the kind with a bar running through the body to resist the wedge), then this video can give you some ideas.
Some considerations and observations:
1. I recommend a harder wood than what I used, or laminating a harder sole onto it. I used cherry, and it works fine. I don’t, however, expect it to last too too long against really difficult woods.
2. I made sure to orient the grain so as, when planing forward, you are essentially “going with” the grain.
3. Start by making the plane oversize in terms of length. Then, clamp both pieces together and drill through them in 3-4 places in areas that will become waste. Then, insert dowels or screws. You can use these as locator pins so you can consistently and quickly put the halves together, especially when gluing.
4. Before cutting the abutment, make a wedge template like David W does when he makes planes. Use that template to create your wedge area/abutment. Check out this really detailed series here: https://youtu.be/QaaYobORdA0
5. I left some room for the front of the mouth, but I shouldn’t have. The result was a HUGE opening of the mouth. Make it almost nothing and create a small “wear” angle as discussed by Rex Kreuger in his video here, around minute 11:
Note, however, that the wear angle can interfere with shaving escapement. He says he had to remove the wear almost in its entirety. I’d say, leave a slight wear angle so you can open up the mouth just enough. Now, the reason I didn’t is simply because of 1) inexperience and 2) I had already finished making my own plane when Rex’s video came out. That video helped me understand the geometry of the mouth a lot better. In fact, while I was researching how to make a coffin plane, I was looking specifically for information on that secondary angle, and obviously I didn’t look hard enough.
6. After making the abutments, you need to taper them toward the front of the plane to allow the shavings to escape. Be careful, though, as you do not want to weaken that area where the wedge is secured in place (the abutment).
7. You can make your plane whatever shape you want, but the traditional coffin style is very much like an oval. It isn’t that rectangular at all. FYI.
Some more suggestions for channels to watch about plane making:
Young Je: https://youtu.be/JRT6_BcWbNU
This guy is awesome. You won’t regret it.
This guy does a laminated style plane, and it is very well done!
I hope this has been a helpful and enjoyable build for you! Please do leave your comments to help others in the future!
If you have time, please visit my other social links and whatnot:
My Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheHandToolery
All the best,