Friday, January 11, 2013

Blokschaaf Part I

There's a blokschaaf (or six) in that
chunk of wood.
Ah, the thrill of starting a new project.

It's like the beginning of a new romance (except that your project won't stand you up or flirt with other lumber. It may, however, break your heart), and it's one of the most exciting aspects of woodworking.

It's one reason we woodworkers typically have five or more projects going on in our shops at the same time. (My gothic stool that's sat untouched for over a month comes to mind.)

I've been wanting to make a high angle smoother for awhile and was planning to make an18th c. English style coffin smoother, but I've always been drawn to the look of 18th c. Dutch planes with all their scrolly goodness.

In his book The Art of Fine Tools, Sandor Nagyszalanczy explains that small, family-owned shops in the Netherlands cranked out decorative handplanes in the 17th- and 18th-centuries while in England and the colonies, tradesman were making more utilitarian (but still handsome) styles.

Dutch planes were constructed with templates and adhered to standard specifications, but were adorned with varying scroll and other designs by individual craftsmen, making each one unique.

The plane I plan to build is referred to as a blokschaff (smoother). It will have a horn and scrolls, but whether or not it will match the qualifications of its 18th-century archetype remains to be seen.


Anonymous said...

Nothing like a good, horny plane to kindle your romance in the shop! Kinda makes me weak in the knees just thinking about it!

Chris Adkins said...

Now that looks like a really fun project! I look forward to seeing how it works our Kari.

EestiBear said...

Hi Kari!

I'm sure you've probably seen it, but Peter's blog on his planes is trying to inspire me, now you!

Tom Stephenson said...

Kari, this sounds like a fun project that will be useful once finished. Can't wait to see Greta's offspring!

Kees said...

That's a very nice idea! But just to warn you, the horned planes were not Dutch. The German ones were like that and sometimes they used carvings too. Very early Dutch planes were also equiped with horns on the front, like the plane found on Nova Zembla, but not carved. And then of course we have the Gerfschaaf, whale back plane it is sometimes called in English. These were also sometimes mildly carved. But the real Dutch carved planes from the 17th and 18th century were like your first picture.

For some inspiration about Dutch planes, have a look at this site:

Kari Hultman said...

I'm very excited to start working on this plane. Bear, I have seen Peter's planes--I love the little gerfschaaf he made.

Kees, it's possible that the horned plane in this blog post is German, Austrian or Swiss. I had it listed as Dutch in my folder, but I could be wrong.

I did find more references in Sandor's book to carved, horned blokschaaf planes. I also found a reference to an 18th c. scroll-horned reisschaaf plane in Jonathan Green-Plumb's book, Early European Decorated Tools. And I found a pair of 17th c. Dutch hollow/round planes with scrolled horns in David R. Russell's book, Antique Woodworking Tools.

None have horns that are as carved as the photo in my blog, though. They mainly have a scroll carved at the top and have a curve to the handle.

The plane I plan to make will look mainly (hopefully) like the last plane in the post, but with the scrolled throat of the blokschaaf planes, so I guess mine will be a hybrid.

Bill Akins said...

This looks like a wonderful project Kari. I made my first homemade plane last year and I'm itching to start another. Can we expect a video on this from the first lady of woodworking?

Kees said...

Yes I forgot to mention the reischaaf (jointer). You can find some examples on the link I included in the earlier post. Horned hollows and rounds? Never seen these in the Dutch tradition? The typical Dutch moulding plane (17th and 18th century) is like this one:

Early horned Dutch planes where rather crude afairs, like the plane from Nova Zembla:,0

Of course, the German ones are nice too. And I'm sure you'll do a nice job. Just a pitty for me as a Dutchman that you choose one from the neighbours :-)

Kari Hultman said...

Bill, if I made a video, all you'd see is me scratching my head trying to figure out the next move. heh

Kees, I must be really terrible at navigating that museum's site because I wasn't able to find the planes. Not surprising, I can be clueless. The photos of the supposed Dutch moulding planes I found were of really wide hollows and rounds, so they looked more like full size planes than moulding planes. I'll call what I'm building a horned smoother, just to be on the safe side. ;)

Jerry said...

The carvings on the plane's are very interesting to me and am eager to see what you carve up! Being a woodcarver that also works wood this project is very appealing to me! Thank you!

Kees said...

You can find a very good article about grain orientation on the website from old street tools.

In (very) short.Using the radial side of the wood on the side, you get less movement in the vertical direction, so it helps maintaining the wedge geometry, and thus how tight the wedge remains over the seasons.

And on the side the grain should run down from front to back. So you get indeed short grain just under the blade at the back of the mouth. Luckily that is not the most important part of the sole. Much more important is the front of the mouth and you don't want bits of short grain there.