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The Finkum Plane

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rxh

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This is my latest ancient plane reproduction project. I have made replicas of several other ancient planes and I find it interesting to build them and find out how they perform. I think we can learn more about ancient woodworking practices by using these copies than by looking at the originals in museums.
This small plane was found in the terp at Finkum, in Friesland, and now in the Fries museum at Leeuwarden, Netherlands (according to Wikipedia a terp is: “an artificial dwelling mound found on the North European Plain that has been created to provide safe ground during storm surges, high tides, and sea or river flooding”. It is made from antler with a bronze sole and measures 166mm long x 38mm wide (about 6½ “ x 1½ “). The bed of the iron is cut to an angle of 45 degrees. It is believed to date from between 700 and 1000 AD.
As usual, I have started by making a scale drawing based on measurements taken from available photos. Now I need to obtain the materials. Antler seems unlikely to be found so I plan to try and buy a suitable piece of boxwood. I also hope to find a supplier of bronze sheet, ideally about 3/32” (~2.5 mm) thick. I am thinking of using 1/8” thick O1 steel for the iron. The cross pin and rivets will be in bright mild steel.
The metalwork should be quite straight forward and the body will be an interesting exercise in wood carving. As the wedge and iron seem to be missing I shall feel free to design my own shapes :)
It will be similar in size to the repro of the ancient Bavarian plane I made last year. WIP reports and photos to follow in due course.
 

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Osvaldd

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Really looking forward to see how it turns out.
Good luck
 

Jarno

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Curious that they were using antler, that part of the Netherland is not know for deer. Not a lot of forests, and lots of lakes and rivers (hence the use of man made elevations to keep dry feet).
 

Trevanion

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Jarno":yq2muq4x said:
Curious that they were using antler, that part of the Netherland is not know for deer.
Perhaps there were more deer around there about circa 1000 years ago. I guess it’s much like the British wolves, boars and to an extent deer, they were killed off by humans and their expansion. There used to be thousands upon thousands of wolves in Britain until they were made extinct around the 1500s, same goes with wild boars which were officially extinct in the 1700s, deer also used to be plentiful all over Britain but now there’s only small clusters.
 

Jarno

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No, that was my point, because of the geography there, it is unlikely that large deer would live there, even a thousand years ago. It's a lovely area to go sailing, and if the winter is severe enough, there's an ice skating event: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elfstedentocht (last edition was 1997, so yeah). But there are hardly any forests there, small bushes here and there, lots of smaller and bigger lakes, waterways, bog areas.
Actually because of our waterworks, we've managed to better control the water level in those areas, for agricultural reasons, so that would even help large animals like deer. Still though, they might have gotten the material from elsewhere in the Netherlands or abroad. Us dutchies do like to travel.
Keen on seeing the end result!
 

Sheffield Tony

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You could do something like what one of my former colleagues did. I found him in the workshop, with a stuffed animal's head, complete with the wooden plate that once mounted it as a trophy on the wall. He had it in the vice, sawing off the horns to use in longbow making. He found it going for a bargain price in a local antiques shop ! I wonder what he did with the rest ...
 

rxh

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Thanks for all your comments. I have done the basic shaping of the body in boxwood and I have made the rivets, crosspin and iron. Making the sole of bronze will be next.
 

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NickM

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You guys are scraping the barrel with these jokes.

The plane looks great. Fascinating project.
 

AndyT

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I like that a lot. If it's not what the original maker did, it's what they should have done. I really like the way the shape echoes the other curved elements while also being practical.
 

rxh

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Thanks Andy - I was trying to find a pleasing shape of wedge that would fit in with the rest of the plane.
Here is the completed article - I soaked it in linseed oil, allowed it to dry and applied some wax. I put it to the test on an unknown white hardwood, boxwood and walnut and it worked well.
 

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rxh

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Thanks Sheffield Tony and Musicman.
I'm planning to go to the London International Woodworking Festival on 26th or 27th October.
londoniwf.co.uk
Some interesting demonstrators including Richard Arnold.
I'll bring the Finkum plane and maybe some others with me.
 
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