Friday, March 7, 2008

Spill Plane: Finished

To finish the Spill Plane (progress posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), I first had to make the wedge pretty. You can shape it any way you like. I cut mine to length, marked off a flat area at the top & back end of the wedge with a combination square, removed the waste with a block plane, and sliced the corners off with a chisel.

For the remaining pieces, I chamfered all the edges with a block plane and file, both to protect the edges from getting damaged and to add another facet to catch the light, applied 4 coats of one of my favorite finishes, Watco Wipe-On Poly, exchanged the steel screws for brass ones, and decided the Spill Plane is sufficiently gussied up and ready for its new home.

You can make a Spill Plane any size you like. I believe many Spill Planes were user-made (someone correct me if I'm wrong) and that's why so many of the antique ones you come across all look so different from one another. Mine was made with just 4 pieces of wood and a blade, but as far as I'm concerned, the side escapement piece isn't necessary for the plane to work. You do, however, have to plow a channel below the cutting edge of the blade so the shaved wood has a place to peel off.

Here are the sizes of the pieces of this plane.
Body (Ambrosia Maple): 3 x 12 x 1.75
Top (Walnut): 1.875 x 12 x .625
Side Escapement (Walnut): 2.3125 x 12 x .75
Wedge (Ambrosia Maple): 2 x 4.9375 x .875
Blade: 2 x 6 x .125

Recently, I attended an antique tool auction where a Spill Plane went for $180! I made this one for about $15. To think that the user-made planes were built with few tools but lots of ingenuity just amazes me. Because they were made by people who didn't have the arsenal of tools many of us hobbyists have today, and because they were probably made in a hurry (to serve a purpose), antique user-made Spill Planes aren't typically as clean cut as the one I built....but they most certainly have more character.


Anonymous said...


THAT is one purdy, PURDY spill plane! It will be a great addition to the York Agricultural & Industrial Museum.

I enjoyed the journey with this one. Is photography one of your other talents? I love your photography, and the way in which you use it to document your pieces!

I cannot provide any input on the historical correctness of *who* made these. But:

"... and because they were probably made in a hurry (to serve a purpose), ..."

I quoted this from your post, because it immediately flashed a mental image: Someone in their pajamas, in their shop, handling ice cold hand tools, and freezing to death while making a spill plane. All this to be able to properly get the fireplace going, and to fall asleep warm and cozy.

Kari Hultman said...

Al, that's a great mental image! :o)
I am not a photographer. In fact, if you saw my camera, you would laugh. I've dropped it so many times, the viewing window is cracked so you can only see half of the image you are taking, and the battery compartment is taped shut so the batteries don't fall out. It ain't "purdy", but it takes sharp close-ups (and I'm too frugal to buy a new one!).

Shazza said...

Very spiffy there VC!

Shazza said...

Now that you've made one for someone else...will you make one of your own just for fun?

Kari Hultman said...

Shazza, I probably won't because I hate to do the same thing twice. I'd never make it in a production shop!

Unknown said...


I am glad you upgraded your photo. You look fabulous.

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Wyld....and thank God for make up!

Gye Greene said...

OK - you made me learn somthin' new.

(Never heard of a spill plane -- not a Pacific NW thing? -- so had to click on your ''episode 1'' link, then look at your three linked online articles...)



Gye Greene said...

Was thinking "I'd never have use for one of them -- can't see myself making one." But then I thought: Hm! Maybe you could use the spills as veneer-ish edge-banding...