Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Brese Planes

In anticipation of this year's Woodworking In America conference, I'd like to highlight some of the toolmakers you will meet in the Marketplace.

Last year I met Ron Brese, maker of exceptional infill planes. Ron left a career in engineering to pursue planemaking, and the woodworking community is all the more fortunate because of it.

If you plan to attend this year's conference, stop by to talk with Ron in person and try his planes. And if you're in the market for a handplane that can tame the most highly-figured surface with ease, read on.

Here is Ron's response when I asked him what distinguishes his planes from the competition:

There are several unique features to the tools that I make and some of them are not always very apparent on the surface.

(1) My tools are assembled with a riveting process that allows me to assemble very accurate and quite rigid and strong plane bodies. This also creates near invisible joinery that keeps the lines of my planes very clean looking. This process allows me to utilize different alloys of metals that don't always react well the double dovetail peening work involved in other assembly methods.

(2) Thicker irons and no cap iron configuration. We don't make any surfacing planes with a bed pitch of less than 50 degrees and have found no difference in the surfaces that these tools leave in their wake with or without cap irons. At these steeper angles, more heat is generated at the cutting edge of the irons, and the thicker iron serves as a heat sink to draw this heat away from the edge and help extend cutting edge life.

(3) We have worked hard to find the optimum mass factor for our tools. Adding mass to a tool for mass sake is not a good idea. There is a point of diminishing returns. We have worked hard to find the optimum ratio between weight and balance.

(4) Visually there are some very distinctive features that make my tools recognizable as a "Brese Plane".

(A) The small safety button at the top of the iron. The single iron configuration creates a situation that would allow the iron to fall through the mouth of the plane if the lever cap screw was loosened while the plane is held above the surface of the workbench. This button will catch on the lever cap screw or lever cap, preventing the iron from passing through the plane.

(B) The rear tote of the full size planes has a distinctive shape with the top of the horn tapering to a thinner, elegant edge at the very top. This, coupled with the option of the diamond-shaped, mother of pearl inlays, creates a distinctive look for these tools. The front bun shape on our 875 Series Smoothing planes is unique to these planes as well.

(C) The overall look of the 650-55 "J" overstuffed version of our small smoother is a unique shape that is only seen in this line of planes. The side cutout and "J" configuration of the 650-55 "J" overstuffed design was the vision of Jameel Abraham of BenchCrafted.

We are in the process of developing a new line of very refined, very precision-made, stainless steel non-infill planes. The first of this line was a 13.25" long panel plane that was on our bench at the WIA conference in Valley Forge. We have two other sizes of the stainless plane in the design process and are developing one more infill smoother as well.


Ron plans to have at least two more planes that will be part of the new stainless steel line ready to debut at the 2010 WIA.


Sunshine said...

His planes make me salivate. I've lusted after the 650-55 J for a while now. One day.... one day...

Dyami said...

Wow. I think I need to buy one.

Dyami said...

So, I've checked his site. I do need to buy one, but I'll first need to put my kids through college and pay off my house.

While I completely appreciate why a true craftsman needs to charge for his or her craft, I'll have to settle for quality, semi-mass produced planes (i.e. Veritas & Lie Nelson) until my disposable income takes a dramatic rise.

Cory Krug said...

I bought/beta-tested a 650 series kit from Ron about 3 years ago when he was trying that route. Basically he did all of the metal work a I just had to craft the infill. It makes a great plane. The thick brass makes it really heavy for it's size, which gives it a good feel.

Unknown said...

Beautiful planes...I love infils!!

Geemoney said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Ron and using his planes at the recent Chicago Lie-Nielsen event. Actually, pleasure is too stingy a word. Those planes of his are astounding. As much as I hate to say it, the LN's which I also was able to play with (this is not to say that they were not worlds better than what I currently have and use, those are also fantastic tools) just didn't compare. Ron's planes really something special.

Troy Bouffard said...

Impressive. It was like listening to my F-i-L talking, since he is an engineer too. That actually gave me a big boost in confidence that Ron's products are top notch.

The House of Lisa said...

What a beautiful tool! I share your interest Kari!

Kari Hultman said...

I'm glad I met Ron, although I only spoke with him for about 5 minutes. He was gracious enough to correspond with me via email after the event and send me this information. There is always so much to do and see at these conferences. It could really go a full week.