Old Style Smoothing Plane


This is the first of the three “new design” hand planes I have been working on.

In keeping with my practice of naming my hand planes after Irish geographical features, this one is called The Mannin Bay. At under 7″ in length it is a neat, sweet plane with some interesting features. Not least among these is the Oak Leaf detail on the front.

See video of the plane in use:



The infill and tote are Padauk, which rubs up beautifully with Shellac.  As this hand plane is relatively small, I had to take special care with the design of the tote. I wanted this one to be a “handled” plane. What I came up with is what I call a “finger tote”.  This refers to the smaller than usual finger hole. Usually, in a closed tote or handle, this hole has roughly a kidney shape and is large enough for most of the fingers; but here it is round and just big enough for the 2nd and 3rd fingers to go through, the first and fourth finger resting on the side of the tote and lower plane body respectively. This arrangement gives great control over the plane.

Again, as the tote is relatively small, I also felt that the spur might interfere with the grip and therefore, reversed its direction; instead of sweeping backward, it cocks forward. I call this my “crane’s bill” spur, as it holds in a similar position to the bills of cranes when they are courting (see pic below). The fact that I included a brass blade-bed in this plane, which independently supports the blade,  meant that I was able to put some curves on the forward end of the tote which adds to the aesthetic.


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A cross pin is used instead of machine screws to secure the lever-cap and the ends of the cross pin have artificial ivory inlaid for a touch of detail. The same artificial ivory is inlaid into the lever-cap knob. All in all, I am very happy with this plane; it handles well and planes wood smoothly and easily. The bed angle is 50 degrees, with a bevel down configuration. It should be a useful adjunct to my collection, especially for small smoothing work and will also look well in the glass cabinet. All that’s left to do now is to engrave my name on the lever cap.

For some reason that I can’t figure out, this plane doesn’t photograph particularly well; it looks much better in reality than it does in the photographs. Maybe I’m just not  a good photographer. Anyway here are a couple of pictures of the plane in one of the glass cabinets in my Collector’s Room.

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  1. Hi Brendon,
    This is really with a great pleasure that I visit again your Website.
    There is a very pleasant feeling of sobriety, neat design, fine aesthetic, as well on your site design as on your craft.
    I also love the picture on top, this barn among the apple trees (?).
    Is it really your workshop ?
    I wish you a long life for this blog and plenty of new exciting wooden and metal crafts !

    By the way Brendon, I have a practical question, could you tell me where you purchase your brass sheets, as well as your blade steel ?
    I never found any satisfying provider so far.
    thanks in advance !

    • Brendon

      October 5, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      Hi Christophe
      Thank you for your kind comments.
      I’m afraid my craftsmanship is nothing compared to yours.
      To look at your Bluegrass Mandolin is humbling;
      il est vraiment merveilleux.
      I am afraid the picture is not my workshop. That picture
      is a stock picture from WordPress.com
      My workshop is not quite so interesting on the outside
      but I hope interesting things happen inside.
      Perhaps it is the poet in me that liked that picture.
      If you wish to private message me I will give you the names
      and email addresses of my suppliers of brass and plane blades.
      Best Wishes

  2. Bernard Brown

    May 18, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Brendon the more i visit your blog the more i admire and it all inspires me

    • Brendon

      May 18, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      Thanks Bernard,
      I appreciate your comments

      • Bernard Brown

        May 24, 2016 at 10:10 am

        Brendon tried to send a private message not successful if you could contact me bernard_brown@ eircom.net i believe we have much info to share appreciated .regards Bernard Brown

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