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.


  1. Just when I thought your planes couldn't get any better! I hope to have some of my tools worked on by Catherine some day. I've seen her work up close when I was a blacksmith demonstrator and she was demonstrating woodworking at Hancock Shaker Village.

    David Shepard

  2. That is crazy beautiful. I might or might not see if Catherine can engrave my WD Winter Smoother... but why mess with perfection.

  3. Catherine worked at Hancock Shaker Village? I had no clue. Interesting. Another point of conversation next time I speak with her.


    1. Yes, some time ago. She worked upstairs in the Tannery, and I worked downstairs in the blacksmith shop. Periodically we would smoke the place up pretty good with coal smoke, but we never got any complaints. She gave me a small brass engraving of a sailing ship.

  4. That is over the top cool. I wouldn't want to use it. Personally, I think it could look even better with some dark color down in the engraving to make it show up better. But that's just my thought. Great pictures Ron.

  5. Funny you should mention that Jon. I'll be working on another plane soon and the plan is to apply the patina'd type finish to create just the effect you described. Darkening the back ground to obtain some contrast.


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