Friday, May 29, 2015

What is a Mother Plane?


I get asked all the time at events where I demonstrate my planes - "How do you cut the profiles on the sole?"

The answer is easy...well, sort of. :) I start by making a plane that is exactly like I want my final production plane to be. I call this my prototype plane. I cut that profile with hollows and rounds along with rabbets and/or plow planes. However, I don't want to do that for every plane I want to make in the future because it would be tedious and take a really long time. Therefore, I use this prototype plane to make a mother plane which is essentially a "negative" of the profile I want.


I can then cut multiple plane soles with this mother plane, all of them being virtually identical. These planes that are made from the mother are then called daughter planes. It is a good process but it is tricky to make a good mother plane. It involves making planes with multiple irons in order to cut these mucho complex profiles.


I have been making these mother planes for quite some time now, and was thrilled to discuss them with Bill Anderson recently. He is in the process of studying a very large collection of antique mother planes and he told me that the original makers would typically combine multiple dedicated planes to make complex profiles rather than putting multiple irons in a single plane. I can see some advantage to this, but also some disadvantage. I may try this in the future for some other profiles, and look forward to seeing more from his research down the road.

Anyway, I put together some videos of the process. The first is a time lapse of the process and the others are the full, comparatively slow process. I hope you enjoy seeing how this is done.

Also there are a few of these Ogee and reverse Ogee planes left in the shop.





13 comments:

  1. Might one benefit of using multiple dedicated planes be that you could re-use them to mother other complex profiles?

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    1. I doubt it would work that easily. The profiles are so exact and specific to each plane that I would be highly surprised if there was much chance of that. I think the biggest advantage is that multiple planes would reduce the amount of force needed to push them when doing large profiles. There would also be less chance of creating a profile that was not coplanar.

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  2. Thanks for the videos and your explanation on your process. I have follow you for some time and enjoy your work. Are you going to teach a class on making planes.

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    1. I am still wanting to Robert. When, is still up in the air. I have some specific types of planes in mind that I think will work good for a class I just need to get my ducks in a row. :)

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  4. Thanks Caleb. Great demo, looks like a work out too!

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    1. Yes it is. Do fifty in a row and you sure get worn out.

      That second video really makes me look inept but really it usually goes a bit smoother than that. Trying to show the good with the bad. It doesn't always go perfectly smooth.

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  5. Hey Caleb, did you see my blog post on Williamsburg's mother plane collection?

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    1. Joshua,

      I hopped over to your blog and checked it out. Looks really awesome. Would loved to have been there to check it out.

      Are you going to post more about it or is it going to just come out in articles for the magazine?

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