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How to make a Swiss plane - with video

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AndyT

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Adidat's recent thread included a French plane which led me off to look at a big French picture book of planes. Knowing that we don't all immediately send off our €85 for a copy to put on the coffee table, I thought people here might be interested to know that there is a website which contains extra pictures and documents which could not be fitted in. Start here if you just want to plunge in and look.

You will soon realise that those fancy French windows, shutters, furniture, mirrors and picture frames needed a whole different eco-system of planes to make them, some of which might appear a touch bizarre to sensitive English eyes, such as this:





or this:



or this:



Believe me, there's plenty of intriguing stuff to browse through, including an interesting jig for cutting and planing big mitres. But what I most wanted to share is the album which starts at this link. It shows how to make planes, and as well as fascinating pictures such as these:

Planemaker's tools:



roughed out body:



opening the mouth



and lots more.

The real treat though, is that there are stills from a video of an old planemaking workshop, in Geneva, filmed in 1984. A note alongside the pictures shows that it is available to watch on-line, at the Swiss TV archive! This place was a real survivor from the nineteenth century, where planes and other tools were still made by hand. It's stuffed full of good things, so I won't list them all, but leave you all to discover them. I do recommend it though, if you've ever made a plane, wondered how to make one, used one or just looked at one!

So, next time there's nothing worth watching on telly, (ie now) make a cup of tea and sit down for 45 minutes of slow hand tool making pleasure, and watch how the experts did it!

This is the link you've been waiting for:

http://www.rts.ch/archives/tv/culture/suisse-au-fil-du-temps/3464421-les-outils-de-bois.html

Enjoy!
 

Cheshirechappie

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Thanks for that, Andy - it was interesting. I'll have to learn some French now - about the only word I understood was 'bois'.

John Whelan, in one of his books on planemaking, made reference to a film made by Ken Hawley in the Marples wooden planemaking shop, probably shortly before it closed in the 1960's. I wonder where that's lurking?
 

jimi43

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Great post Andy...as usual! =D>

I love those floats! They really look the biz!

My most favourite one though is this....



...and this one comes a close second....



I might make one of them there ones some day!

Jim
 

AndyT

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Glad you liked it!

I reckon you can get plenty out of it without any French at all - but the handy list of specialist plane-related words in the Whelan book on the wooden plane could be useful. The lovely long plane featured was referred to as a 'varlope' and I'm pretty sure I heard Raggenbass Junior say it had taken "trois heures" to make. I know that Derek and Rob have both made similar ones - they maybe took a little longer?

I too would love to see that Marples film - I expect it's in the Ken Hawley archive at the University of Sheffield, waiting to be digitised. (Is anyone reading this who is local to Sheffield and could volunteer to copy it for them?)

Jim, I sort of expected that the complicated gizmo would appeal to you - can anyone give an explanation of how it was used?
 

custard

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Flat cap, beer belly, pencil behind the ear. Good to see that universal woodworker look transcends nations!
 

AndyT

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Cheshirechappie":2yqp9wtv said:
Thanks for that, Andy - it was interesting. I'll have to learn some French now - about the only word I understood was 'bois'.

John Whelan, in one of his books on planemaking, made reference to a film made by Ken Hawley in the Marples wooden planemaking shop, probably shortly before it closed in the 1960's. I wonder where that's lurking?
The film is definitely in the Hawley collection - this is a still of the last hand plane maker at Marples in 1965:



There's more info here: http://www.hawleytoolcollection.com/index.php?sheffield-tool=audio-visual
 

Henning

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Thanks a lot for sharing!

Fantastic film with two absolutely fantastic characters.
 

AndyT

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I think you are right Giuliano - there does not seem to be much of a British tradition of panel plane making since the 17th/18th century.

One little bit of personal evidence - I bought one that had belonged to a English joiner - which was this one:



identified on this thread as being German, so we must have been importing them to fill a gap in our own production.
 

ac445ab

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AndyT":26c3bt9k said:
One little bit of personal evidence - I bought one that had belonged to a English joiner - which was this one:



identified on this thread as being German, so we must have been importing them to fill a gap in our own production.
Beautiful plane :wink:
All old panel raiser I have seen are right handed, but could be useful to have both left and right-hand planes for planing always along the grain.
From FWW n°30 (1981):
http://www.finewoodworking.com/SkillsAn ... px?id=2062

Why old carpenters had only a single plane? If I had to make a raised panel with a single right-hand plane I would dispose the lateral pieces in opposite grain directions but I am not sure if would be the right way..... :roll:
 
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