Thursday, December 3, 2015

T Shirts Back in Time for the Holidays

The Brese Plane "Just a Plane T-Shirt" is once again available. After the Handworks event our inventory of shirts was near none, but we've re-stocked just in time for the Holidays.

We have restocked them in the Old Gold color and decided to offer them once again. These are heavy weight t-shirts of very nice quality.

Available on this blog page, see buy buttons below, and on the Brese Plane Web site Apparel page.

 1 ea. for $20.95 shipping included in the conus or anywhere a flat rate USPS package goes
Qty 1 Select Size Below


2 ea. for $36.95 Shipping included in the Conus or anywhere a flat rate USPS package goes
Qty 2 Select Size Below



"The two most important days of your life is the day you are born, and the day you find out why",        Mark Twain

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

As the Days Go By So Do Some Really Good People

With the passing of Carl Bilderback this past week I took some time to think about the people we've lost from the hand tool community. It's inevitable given the median age of the people that were the majority of the first people that joined the hand tool renaissance. Fortunately the average age of people that are active participants in hand tool woodworking is younger than it was at the beginning.

I first met Carl Bilderback at a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Jeff Miller's shop in Chicago in the early years of my being a full time plane maker. At our first introduction I didn't quite know what to make of Carl. I observed him heckling Chris Schwarz that weekend about the sawing techniques he was demonstrating. Before that weekend was over I figured out that Carl Bilderback was the best kind of guy.

This was about the time I started attending the Midwest Tool Collectors Meet in Madison, GA. This event is referred to as the Peach Meet and it happens the first weekend in February every year. I began to see Carl there most every year. I would always engage Carl in conversation and I never walked away from one of those conversations without having learned something. It may have not been an astounding bit of information, or a piece of knowledge that caused an epiphany but an accumulation of knowledge is known as experience. Guys like Carl are a great source of that kind of experience. These meetings meant a lot to me even though Carl would always look at me in a inquisitive way and asked "you're that plane maker, right?".

There are several reasons I try to attend the Peach Meet every year.

(1) I sometimes see tools that inspire an idea. Seeing a Chaplin Patent plane in person inspired the creation of the Winter Series of planes.

(2) It's a chance to spend a day out of the shop with like minded people that appreciate tools.

Third and most importantly is that I get to see the Carl Bilderbacks of the world. You never know what year will be the last year you will see some of those guys. For this reason I always make an effort to attend. Like Carl, many of these people are a pleasure to know and I get precious little time to spend with them.

Almost 3 years ago the first Handworks event was held in Amana, Iowa. On Saturday morning prior to the presentation about the Studley tool chest, the Emcee, Brian Buckner announced that Carl Bilderback would start the festivities by singing our national anthem. The crowd sort of snickered and laughed a bit thinking this was just a joke on Carl. But then Carl started singing and except for Carl's voice the place went silent. Who knew that Carl Bilderback had a golden voice? If my memory serves me correct he received a standing ovation for his performance.

Last year at the Peach Meet in Madison I saw Carl but I could tell immediately something was different. When the long term MWTCA guys show up with their most coveted tools for sale something is up. I was informed by a another friend attending that event that Carl was terminally ill.

I guess Carl singing our national anthem at Handworks became a tradition. At the second Handworks this past spring just before Roy Underhill's presentation on Saturday morning Carl once again sang our national anthem to a very appreciative crowd. I was sitting on my workbench along side George Walker and when the applause subsided George and I looked at each other and both said "that's the last time we'll see that". I'm sure we both hoped we would be wrong but there is an inevitable end to life. At the next Handworks I wonder what will fill the void of Carl's singing? Maybe it will present the opportunity to remember Carl and some of the other mentors and patrons of the hand tool community.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

FIrst of the "JR" planes

In a recent post titled, "A Plane for Bond...........James Bond", the subject was an all brass plane that was to be engraved.

Then the customer had an idea of a kit of planes that would be made of brass and engraved on the interior and exterior and in many places that would only reveal themselves as a surprise when some parts of the plane, like the iron, would be removed.

This was a very intriguing idea for myself and engraver Catharine Kennedy and so we set about work on the first of these three planes.

First order of business was to make all the component parts of the plane body so that I could send them to Catharine for the interior engraving. I also masked some areas to indicate the mating surfaces of the plane body parts that could not be engraved.

Catharine returned the parts to me and I then made bright all the surfaces with Scotchbrite pads and applied True Oil to the interior surfaces of the plane body parts. This gives the parts an aged gold color and protects somewhat from hand oils that leave handling prints on the surfaces.

I then assembled the plane paying particular attention so as not to mar the refined interior surfaces of the plane. This was tedious at best because there was no going back once the final refinement and finish was attained on these surfaces.

This is that part of plane making where your mind has to stay in the moment at every moment. If your thoughts wander from the immediate task you just have to stop and re-establish your concentration. The cost of a mental lapse at this point in the process is enormous. Is this a bit stressful? Yes, but it's also very challenging and rewarding.

A more contrasting wood for the tote and knob would have looked very nice in this predominantly brass plane body, however the Olive wood has a classic look that works quite well with the color of the oiled brass.  If you look closely you'll see that I used a stainless steel knob seat just to create a bit more contrast in the colors of the metals used.

If you compare the lever cap in the pictures of the components parts above you will notice quite a difference as compared to the lever cap used in the assembled plane.

When I received the parts from Catharine with the interior engraving completed I knew having only my brand stamp on this plane was not right or proper. Catharine's work is just too much a part of this plane. On my suggestions we decided on a brand mark that included both initials of our last names(B & K) set in an oval on the lever cap.

This entire project originated from the imagination of our customer John Rexroad, therefore you'll see the initials "JR" on the side of the plane and planes of this type will now be known as the "JR" line of planes.

Not many times in your life do you have a patron that gives you the leeway to express yourself in this manner. When it happens you must seize the day.


Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

FORP II, Work Progresses and The Sun Comes Out............FINALLY!!!

Work Progresses at the French Oak Roubo Project II. After several days of cold drizzly rain the Sun finally emerged on Tuesday afternoon.

Ted Lolley (far side) checks the fit on his bench top joint. Jeff Miller and Pete Krupowicz  are looking on.

The glue is spread and the clamps go on.

With timbers this large you get squeeze out even before you tighten the clamps.

As you will see in the attached video these are big pieces of French Oak timbers and require quite large machines and plenty of people power for safe and efficient handling.

All the attendees at this event have worked together so well and cooperatively I thought it appropriate to attach a quote about friendship.


The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It Has Begun, The French Oak Roubo Project #2

Today people from all over North America will be arriving in At Wyatts Childs, Inc. in Barnesville, GA for the beginning of the French Oak Roubo Project #2.

Jameel Abraham arrived earlier this week to make ready for everyones's arrival. Yesterday Jameel, and Raney Nelson were working with Bo Childs in order to get the bench top slabs milled to rough size on the Woodmizer saw mill. Today Ted Lolley joined them and they continued the process in a cold steady rain. But hey, watcha gonna do? The show must go on.

Freshly milled edges of Bench Top Slabs
Tonight there will be a meet and greet, and an orientation. Monday at 9:00 a.m. the entire group will commence this endeavor.

Let the work and the fun begin!


Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Recently Completed Winter Smoother, and My Son is a Zombie (professionally that is)

I recently completed another Winter Smoother. The contrast of the brass sides and the cocobolo Rosewood seems right to my eye.

 Unfortunately working the cocobolo Rosewood seems to be more and more of an issue for me.

I'm very careful when working this material but it seems to be causing me quite adverse health consequences.

If I react in a similar way on the next rosewood tote and knob set it may be my last time to work this material. Fortunately I have just emptied the kiln and I have some of the best pieces of olive wood yet. The only adverse reaction I have to the olive wood is a craving for pasta.


If you're a "Walking Dead" fan you probably saw the scene that contained this screen shot below in the last episode. The Zombie on the left is my son Marc. I think my daughter Erin summed it up with this comment.

"You do NOT want to fight my brother for the last drumstick at Thanksgiving"

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Plane for Bond.....................James Bond?

I received a request from a customer to make a 123-38SBP, also know as the "Brute" chute board plane entirely from brass, except of course for the iron and in this case the lever cap screw was made from stainless steel just for a bit more contrast. I won't say this was an unusual request because I think planes with bodies entirely from brass are very serviceable tools.

Early in my plane making career I did what I suggest to many budding plane makers. I made my first plane bodies entirely from brass. Brass is a much easier material for new plane makers to use and it means you don't have to jump as much of the learning curve in the beginning. Steel is such a different animal and frankly it requires a much larger investment in tooling to do well at the outset.

I still use some of those early tools daily in the shop and I've not experienced significant wear to any of the surfaces. I think the soles actually work harden after a certain amount of use.

These days I pursue plane making with a goal of precision in every part that make up the plane and in this endeavor brass presents a new challenge and difficulty. Making the component parts of the brass to very precise thickness is challenging mainly due to the fact that it's not magnetic and it is very difficult to dimension on the surface grinder.

Cold drawn brass bar tends to relieve itself of stress at the most inopportune times.

Hand lapping to precise thickness is possible with the right method but is very time consuming but it is what is most times required.

This customer asked if I had any particularly special wood for making the knob. I purchased a Desert Ironwood burl quite a while ago. It contained several inclusions that were significant enough that it would have been impossible to get enough material for a tote and knob, let alone enough good wood for an infill. The piece I chose contained heartwood and sapwood and that made it especially eye catching. The sapwood was rather coarse and open grained and required a lot of CA adhesive filling to establish a firm structural integrity in the wood. The process was most interesting and the end result was satisfying.

My generation was young when the James Bond film Goldfinger was released. After that movie most people associated the color gold with James Bond. As I was making this plane it felt as if I was crafting some secret gadget for James to use in his fight with the evil villains he encounters. The gold of the brass makes this plane  body look as if it's milled from a billet of gold. This in and of itself makes this plane very unique. 

The week after this plane was shipped to the customer I received an email from engraver Catherine Kennedy and it immediately became apparent why this plane body needed to be made from brass. I don't have pictures of the plane after engraving, however one comment in the body of an email between myself, Catherine and the customer that received this tool has sparked an entire other project that will require Catherine and myself to push the boundaries of our skills and that's challenging and exciting at the same time.

Daniel Craig is the new James Bond and frankly his ruthless manner and methods are what we always wished the kindler gentler James Bonds of my era would have been like. He doesn't need special gadgets, he just kills them that needs killing in order to keep the world safe and secure and he doesn't dilly dally around pursuing beautiful women in the process............well not much. (please understand that this comment is made tongue in cheek. I'm certainly not a war monger)

More about the project that this plane spawned in another post.


A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Virgil Wyeth Brese, The Back Porch is Getting Crowded

I apologize for the long hiatus from posting on this blog. We've had a busy summer. A trip to Vermont for a family visit and keeping to a schedule of plane making in the shop. 

When fall arrived we decided the cooler weather was an optimal time for performing some maintenance on our house. All three exterior doors needed to be replaced and because of the way the entrances were trimmed on the inside and outside, pre-hung door units were out of the question so we've had to replace these utilizing door slabs which of course required a good bit of mill work in order to prepare them hanging in the old openings. It's a time consuming process that is soon coming to an end.

This summer we experienced a wonderful day in the life of our family. Virgil Wyeth Brese arrived into this world and the delivery went better than anyone expected. What a relief.

I enjoy my grandchildren an enormous amount and the place we choose to spend a lot of our time together is on the back porch of our house. We start the day by eating breakfast there and then the activity can turn very quickly to an impromptu sword fight using whatever is handy for swords and can progress to acting out super hero scenarios. Julie and I are typically given the role of the villians but that's okay, somebody has to be the villian.

A Proud Father

Virgil in a Breast Milk Coma

On the back porch we can do most anything and most importantly we can do nothing when time comes to rest. When it rains we don't necessarily have to go indoors. It's also where we bide our time waiting for late evening and the appearance of lightning bugs, or as Maggie Mason refers to them as "dem bugs with lights".

We also enjoy snacks on the back porch. This can range from an afternoon tea party to just enjoying a popsicle, watermelon or my favorite, ice cream.

The next blog post will include plane making and maybe some pictures of the new doors and will arrive in a more timely manner as compared to this one.


"You get what you get and you don't pitch a fit",
                                                                            Katherine Mason, now 8 years old

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Before and After

Recently I had a customer asked if I would be interested in doing some refurb/repair to a Marples shoulder plane he had purchased. He was interested in having the plane re-habbed into useable shape and possibly to enhance the overall look of the tool in the process.


I've not attempted a plane rehab prior to this except for some Bailey pattern planes that I put into useable condition some years ago, but never any re-furb work on an English made infill.

I told the customer if he would send me the plane I would be glad to take a look and see if I wanted to take it on as a new experience.

There is a couple problems with this type of thing.

(1) You don't always know what type of construction was used to assemble the plane and therefore you don't what your limits are in modifying the tool. A little too much metal removed from here and there the plane could well start coming apart.

(2) You also have to judge the expectations of the customer and judge whether or not you can accomplish that level of result with what you have to work with.

(3) What are expectations of cost and can it be done within those limits?

In this case my expectations were maybe more ambitious than the owners. So I agreed to proceed and he agreed to some flexibility in the final cost of the project.

So what was wrong with this plane? The bones were there. It was intact, all the parts were present, however as you can see in the picture above the original iron was used up and no longer extended out of the back of the plane enough for adjustment access. It was not going to be cost effective to make a custom iron for this plane so I set about to source a replacement iron that would work. My preference and the customer's as well was to find an 0-1 iron and I did purchase one from Lee Valley, however it was not long enough to allow adjustment. I then sourced an A-2 iron from Lie-Nielsen. It was long enough it was quite substantial and considering that this is a joinery refining tool most of the surfaces left by this plane with be concealed inside glued joints so the tool steel choice wasn't really that critical.

The opening in the side of the plane would have to be modified to accommodate the L-N iron. Here you can see the layout of the new opening profile.

In the above picture you can see the opening roughed out and the bed angle base line filed precisely to the line.

Above you can see the opening refined to the layout line with careful file work. Most of the work on an already assembled plane body is handwork. You take file in hand and work to precise layout lines.

And here you can see the opposite side with the new profile refined. In truth this initial layout did not allow enough room to insert the iron from the rear of the plane body and rotate it into place. I actually changed this layout two additional times before the iron could be inserted properly.

The rosewood infill in the front of the plane body had shrunk and also had shifted a bit rearward. From here all the way to opening where the wedge went into the plane had to be worked in order to bring the wood flush to the metal and in some areas the metal flush to the wood. Once again the only way to accomplish this was to take file in hand and work carefully. Very few machine tools were used and in every case they were only utilized for rough work.

The sole was lapped flush in preparation for working the sides. I left a very slight low spot just behind the mouth. This would not effect the function of the plane and further lapping would only open the mouth further.

If you look at the picture above and the "BEFORE" picture at the top of the post you'll see considerable damage to the wedge. This was caused by the use of a hammer without proper soft surfaces like for instance rawhide. There were several points of impact damage on the very rear of the wedge and the rounded area where you would strike for retracting the wedge. 

One option was to make a replacement wedge, however when the rosewood in the infilled portion of the plane was refined and finish applied I knew I had to try and save the wedge if possible. It was going to be nearly impossible to matched the old oxidized rosewood in this plane and when I applied a shellac polish it's rich aged looked came forth and it possessed a beauty only acquired with age.

Fortunately I was able to removed most of the damaged areas by performing some subtle reshaping of the wedge. The damaged areas that remained were repaired with CA adhesive and sanding dust.

When I checked the sides of the plane for square to the sole I found something that seemed odd at first. The sides were not square to the sole. The width of the plane body was smaller at the top than at the sole and the taper was equal on either side of the plane. 

 I busied myself with another task and gave this some thought. I finally concluded that this was too much of a coincidence and that this was most likely by design. This slight taper would allow the plane to easily access the bottom corner of a tenon shoulder and would allow a slight undercut when working the shoulder of a tenon cut insuring a tight join on the face of the joint. I did however decide that the amount of taper was a bit excessive and reduced the amount of taper slightly on the surface grinder prior to lapping the sides. I added some slight chamfers to the corners to make the plane nicer in the hand and it was finished.


The plane is ready to go back to work and now looks as if it's capable of doing some fine work. 


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

JP in the Shop, Kids in the Shop and What I Learned

Most would probably think after an event like Handworks is over you go home and everything settles down and goes back to normal, or  some semblance of normal. 

Not so. When you return you await the return shipments of everything that went to the event and then you have to re-distribute the items that returned. Some of the tools I showed at Handworks belonged to prior customers and I had to schedule to return those items and some items that were finished just in time for the event were tools that were  ordered by newer customers and those needed to be refreshed and forwarded to their new owners. 

Long story short, another week of returning, refreshing and shipping and then finally I could turn my attention back to the next items in my schedule. 
Last week my schedule was pre-empted due to a visit by my daughter and the two Paglia boys from Brooklyn.

Between daily excursions to playgrounds and our neighbor's swimming pool, Everett (aka Jimmy Pete), the oldest of the two, joined me in the shop to complete a project we had planned.

Rough cutting boards to length

Everett is still too young to possess enough muscle mass to control a full size carpentry type saw, however if I put my hands over his hands on the saw he still was able to experience the action of sawing and it enhanced the overall experience for him.

Learning to saw a bit closer to the line

Although JP was learning from his first experiences of working in the shop I learned a great deal as well. I knew initially that the scope of the project needed to be simple and if we surpassed his attention span we could always finish the project another day. 

Cleaning up the saw marks from the bevel surfaces of the seat stretchers

Fortunately kids are naturally a bit intimidated by machines and that's a good thing because they embrace hand tools as a result. Hand tools are quiet and much less imposing. They can still hurt themselves with hand tools but typically only in a minor way. Use common sense here. A plane is much less dangerous in the hand than a sharp chisel.

As you can see in the picture above at some point your fledgling woodworker may become more interested in being creative with the off cuts. Let Them. It gives them an attention span break from the project. As you progress to more interesting parts of the build their attention will come back to the project.

If your child woodworker is having fun and feels comfortable in the shop his sense of humor will soon emerge. See pic above.

Make certain the project includes task they can accomplish themselves. They enjoy it and it gives them a sense of ownership in the project. 5 year olds can get away with working in the shop in their shark print pj's. Adults, not so much.

At some point in the process Everett (JP) grabbed a board, a pencil and started marking lines onto the board. He asked me to cut the marked out parts from the board on the bandsaw. I didn't question him I just did it. He then marked a few more lines on the board and asked me to cut them as well. When I handed it back to him he pronounced that it was a pretend plane and he walked over to the board in the vise and proceeded to make a planing motion across the board. Give them a chance and their imagination will lead to creativity.

The Finished Project

 It's nice if the project is an object that can be used in a practical way by the participant. It lends credibility to the effort. I think this applies to the first project of a child or an adult.

If you're wondering why I sometimes refer to Everett as "Jimmy Pete"? All my grandchildren get a nickname and they seem to relish this idea. They have a name at home but when they come to Georgia they have a Georgia name. They enjoy this quirk and they also think I know the names of all the crows that frequent our yard. Please don't tell them differently. I'm trying hard to be the person they all think I am.


"I'm suspicious of people who don't like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn't like a person." - Bill Murray

Friday, May 22, 2015

Handworks is Done, What a Lot of Fun!

Handworks is now behind us and now Julie and I can get to the "after Handworks" list we started several months ago.

 I've had the pleasure of being associated with the Hand Tool community since around 2007. During this time I've met most of the people that made up the majority of the presenters that were present at Handworks this past weekend. I made their acquaintance at the first several Woodworking in America events, Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events in several locations across the country or the last Handworks event in 2013. They are a special and unique group of people.

One thing has changed over the years. The first couple of years most of the people that attended these events were on the average over 50 years of age. Someone younger than that was rare. Many of us wondered if there would be an end to this revival of hand tool woodworking and if it would slowly die with that generation. If you look at the picture above this paragraph you will see a very nice and well mannered "young" man. Brian Graham is part of what is so inspiring these days. The clientele at these events is becoming younger and younger and that bodes well for the future of hand tool woodworking.

Spending time with old friends is also what this event is about. The above picture includes myself and the namesake of a special version of my Winter Smoother. This gentleman in this picture is Willie Davis himself.  Willie and I jointly sponsored one of the door prizes awarded at the Handworks event. 

Sam DeSocio, (pictured with me below) was the winner of the Willie Davis Winter Smoother door prize. As you can see he is another young man that is a hand tool enthusiast. Sam is a Presbyterian minister from Pittsburgh, Pa. It was fun meeting him. Awarding him a plane I would love to own myself was in it's own way a very liberating and enjoyable experience.

The man you see in the picture below is not a bandito that showed on Saturday afternoon to way lay the exhibitors as they left with the proceeds of the two days of Handworks. In fact he is one of the most pleasant people I've had the opportunity to know. He also happens to be the father of Jameel and Father John Abraham. The two gentleman that organize Handworks. This is a giant task but they do it oh so well.

The cadillac pictured below is a whole other story. Next time you see Patrick Leach ask him about it.

Since my last posting Blues Lengend B.B. King has passed away. I guess "the thrill is gone" but that's the thing about music, it lives on.


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain