It’s been a year and a half since my year-long burden drove me to make the prototype hand router plane, the one I drafted and crafted over and over in my head. The first iteration came from a two-by-four spruce construction stud. I tried different bed angles for the cutting iron and ended up where I did by trial and error. From that working model, it was simply a question of perfecting the details and methods of making for my finalised version. Today, I can make four in about four hours of worktime without using a single machine. That first time, putting the plane to the wood, I was stunned. Before I even pushed it I could smell success. It responded so differently to any of my personal metal router planes. I wished I had done it five decades before. No rattles and vibrations and better still none of the drag I typically got from the all-metal versions. I’d theorised such things because of the all-wood versions I knew so well but here was the reality: Plane in hand, I’d resolved every concern I’d put up with for decades. I held a plane I’d made and made completely by hand using only my standard woodworking hand tools. To say it surpassed any and all router planes I’d ever used is to understate it. This hand router plane worked smoothly and accurately.
Wood is remarkably resilient; a naturally resistant material that also capably absorbs vibration into its fibres in a way no metal-bodied router plane can. This is the reason why wooden planes give such a sensationally good impression and feel in use. For almost six decades the hand router plane in metal and wood was gradually being abandoned, replaced by the power router but not replacing what it gave to the user in essence. My new router plane was infinitely adjustable with amazingly fine control in the smallest fractions of an inch. The inclined cutting iron never baulked in the cut, could be advanced and withdrawn in its channel without unlocking and resetting and every turn sent the cutter in an immediate positive direction according to the depth adjuster turned with thumb and forefinger. Setting the retainer bar enabled the exact pressure so that any adjustment of the cutter was only a fraction of a turn on the adjuster according to whatever depth you wanted. I never picked up any other hand router that gave me such fineness. Moreover, I never picked up any other router plane to use from that day to this.
From the comments people made, many woodworkers were not ready for too much metalworking. Cutting steel, retainer bar stock, drilling and recessing steel wasn’t for them. That was understandable, so Joseph and Katrina set to sourcing and pulling together the different parts including the made-in-Sheffield cutting iron as a metal parts kit. Whatever didn’t exist they had made; their intent was first quality and fitness of purpose and then bringing them in-house at an affordable price for worldwide distribution.
So, in quick succession, I made five of my hand router planes from the kits we package and send out. One was for photography, to produce a quality PDF how-to to follow or print out. The second one was to make the YouTube video on how to make your own router plane from the kit of metal parts and you can get more information here. The third will most likely be a giveaway plane and the fourth has an open throat for routing into stopped housings and housing dadoes to stop the shavings jamming against the fore-edge of the recess and the plane edge. I will add the mesquite version with the black handles to my own gathering of the best router plane in the world. Probably the very first Paul Sellers mesquite router plane ever.