While living in Germany in 2013 I was able to take advantage of my great grandfather’s timber framing shop and my father’s skills as a classically trained cabinet maker. I had always spent time in my dad’s woodshop, but the advent of a practicum at a local cabinet maker’s shop sparked my interest in learning more about the trade.
I decided that building a traditional wooden hand plane for flattening and smoothing boards would be an appropriate use of the Ash wood I had found in the attic. I developed and drafted a design based on others like it, and ease of building. With my dad’s help, I cut the pieces I would need from the slab, planed them down to dimension by hand, and glued them together all by hand. The “horn” was carved to ergonomically accommodate a right-or-left-handed worker and had a complex tapered dovetail sliding joint to connect it to the rest of the plane.
The entire process was quite laborious and time-consuming; however, the project was an invaluable experience to learn the skills of the trade. It taught me that a concept like a flat, square, accurately dimensioned board is easy to think up, but not necessarily easy to fabricate. Although I do not have much opportunity to use my traditional woodworking skills these days, I have incorporated what I learned about fabrication in this project in all of my designs and projects I have completed since.