Monday, August 4, 2008

Krenov Style Planes

I was taught to make Krenov style handplanes by David Finck, a man whose work I so admire, he could tell me that chocolate-covered dog poo makes a superb finish and I'd believe him.

David wrote the book "Making & Mastering Wood Planes" (pricey because it's out of print, but if you write David, he will let the publisher know they are in demand). His book is not only a recipe for making planes, it covers: tuning your bandsaw and several handtools; sharpening techniques; making a grinding jig, a routing jig, a small hammer, & a sharpening stone cradle; planing techniques & planing jigs; and more.

The body of the Krenov style planes consists of two side pieces, a front piece, and a back piece. Because they are laminated, it makes construction easier than planes constructed with a solid chunk of wood. Two other pieces, a wedge and a pin, which holds the wedge and iron in place, complete the plane.

David sells plane irons on his site that take a long time to sharpen but which hold an edge for a very long time.

The most difficult part in making these planes, at least for me, is opening the throat. You must be patient, because it's easy to remove too much wood and create too wide an opening for shavings. Two benefits of a thin opening are less chance of tearout and a smoother finish. However, your iron must be extremely sharp, otherwise the shavings will jam up.

The second most difficult part is fitting the wedge. It must contact the pin, ideally along the entire width of the wedge, but at least must contact the outer edges of the wedge. This ensures your iron will be held firmly in place.

David wrote an article in Fine Woodworking issue #196 that gives you an overview of building a plane. So if you aren't able to find David's book, you can at least read his article.

One more thing...David recommends oil, shellac, or nothing as a finish for the planes. Not dog poo.


Metalworker Mike said...

I have a couple of books on making wooden planes, but not that particular one. I'll keep an eye out for it.
I do see the greatly reduced drudgery of the laminated approach vs. the traditional mortised approach, but I'm not sure which I'd try first. I'm strictly 'armchair' when it comes to wooden planes. Read about it, think about it... don't do it. I'm 'armchair' about a lot of things. :) Still, I've been meaning for ages to make a pair of match planes for tongue and groove. I should do that. I will. As soon as I get out of this armchair...


Woodbloke said...

I've just had an article published in Furniture & Cabinetmaking which is one of the better mags this on side of the pond. I've made JK style planes in the past but now I use a laminated construction with a seperate greeheart sole. The one illustrated in the mag is a 28" jointer with an adjustable mouth. The cap I use is made from 8mm brass pivoted on a couple of round head machine screws with a very natty, shiny bolt. If you're out and about in town it may be worth calling into a newsagents (do you have such things in the good 'ole US of A?) and see if you can get hold of a might enjoy the read, lots of excellent stuff in there - Rob

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the prompting. I have been wanting this book for a while, so I went ahead and wrote David.

I hope it gets reprinted.

Dan said...

I agree - great book! I haven't made a plane yet, but I definitely remember thinking it would be possible after reading David's book. Hope to get around to it one day.

But what about just the chocolate as a finish? Dark chocolate of course...

Kari Hultman said...

Mike, there's an armchair woodworker in all of us. I probably have all of the same plane-making books that you do, and David's is far superior.

Woodbloke, I think they carry that publication at the local Barnes & Noble. I'll check it out next time I'm there.

Luke, if you are able to find the book, you will not be disappointed.

Dan, how 'bout you try the dark chocolate finish and get back to me? ; )

Woodfired! said...

Pity about the dog poo. I've got an endless supply right outside the workshop door. Mind your step!

Unknown said...


I'll have to actually get to the one of our malls and see if Barnes and Noble carries your mag.


What are the jigs in the center picture?

Kari Hultman said...

Mark, your house sounds like our house!

Vic, they are: the adjustable router jig (left) that cuts the channel in the bed of the plane that provides space for the screw that holds the chip breaker and iron together. You can see the channel in the block plane in top photo; and the grinding jig (right). Both are discussed in David's book.

will said...

I've always found Krenov to be an interesting phenomena.

He’s old enough to be of the last generation of woodworkers who only made a living by building things. Yet if you look at the number of things he made, the number is quite small. Iconoclastically, he built a career on few wood items and lots of words. His good fortune was writing books about design and details when there were scant few books on those topics.

His is an approach that fit the 70s and 80s. Many high-end sophisticated hobbyists were attracted to his message and style and because the finished pieces were jewel-like and beautiful, the bar was raised for these hobbyists.

I will grant there are a few professionals who have succeeded with Krenovian ideals but, in large, the restraints of hand tools makes it almost impossible to earn a living building things his way.

When he started teaching in Northern California he found his niche. Since we don’t have viable master and apprentice workshops any more, the next best thing is paying to listen to those with skills.

The success of any school is measured by what students do after they leave. I think it is easy to see his influence in most wood magazines.

Obviously there’s a cottage industry associated with his hand planes.

Unknown said...


You're back there where many woodworkers are. If you run across another copy, please pick it up and I'll arrange payment and shipping.

I'll owe you big! But you should do it just because you're my mentor, whether you've agreed to that arrangement or not!!

I mean please...please

Kari Hultman said...

Bill, you do see Krenov's influence in many woodworkers' pieces and several people have told me how his books impressed them.

Vic, I will keep my eyes open for you, no problem!

Unknown said...

Thanks Kari,

You're the best of the best!

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog.

I grew up doing carpentry and construction work, and even now that I am a "professional" with too many degrees, I enjoy working with my hands and wood the most. Of course, a wife, three small boys, and a career don't leave much time for it.

About a year ago I came across some irons in a box in the shop. My great grandfather had been a cabinet and furniture maker and had a whole set of wooden hand tools. When he died, my grandmother paid someone to haul the barrels of tools away. My father bemoans the loss to this day.

I decided to make a wooden hand plane for my father with one of the old irons. I was lucky enough to come across a copy of Finck's book. It was my first real "woodworking" (as opposed to carpentry) project. It was easy and fun. And the plane worked very nicely.

So nicely in fact, that I bought a couple of Hock irons and made one for myself. It works so beautifully that I rarely use anything else.

If anyone can find Finck's book, buy it. It's worth every penny.


Kari Hultman said...

RonG, the same thing happened to a friend whose grandfather was a woodworker. All of his tools were sold before my friend was old enough to appreciate woodworking and he is still bothered by the loss. One more reason we should respect the tools we buy at auction.