Introduction: Make a Chisel Plane

About: I have been working with wood since I could stumble into the shop with my dad. About a year ago I moved into a house with no space for a full shop so I decided to take up all hand tool wood working. That start…

A Chisel Plane Is a hand plane that can get right up to the edge where a traditional plane can not go. This one is made of white oak firewood, a scrap of Padauk, and an old Block plane iron. It can be made of most any hardwood you would like, these are just what I had on hand.



Carving Mallet:

Panel saw:

Marking knife:


Bit set:

Chisel Set:

#4 Hand plane setup for smoothing:

Cresent Wrench:

File Set:

Sharpening stones:

I use Extra course, Medium-fine, and Extra-Extra fine.

Block Plane Iron: or get one from a garage sale or second hand store.

White Oak Fire Wood: the firewood pile out back or on free Craigslist


1/4" 20 Threaded Insert:

Thumb screw:

Boiled Linseed Oil:

Past Wax:

Step 1: Find an Iron

For the iron I find it easiest to just buy a cheap old block plane at a garage sale or second-hand store, usually for $2-$3. you can also get replacement blades online ( ) that might be just as cheap but you never know what you get till it is in hand. If you buy it second hand it might ned some clean up, but usually that means 5 minutes with some sandpaper to clean the rust off.

Step 2: Flatten One Side of Firewood

If you are using pre-dimensioned lumber then this step is not needed. But I find firewood to be perfect for a lot of hand tools as it is thick and you can easily pull larger dimensions out of it. To flatten one side I will use a hatchet and split off a chunk then use a #4 hand plane to clean it up and flatten the work. Winding sticks can help you identify where more material needs to come off till you get a twist free surface. With one flat surface, you can make all your measurements and markings off of that one side.

Step 3: Dimension the Body

I wanted that flat side that was just created to be the sole of the plane. So I marked out the width of the Plane Iron on the flat side and with a hand saw cut it to width 90 degrees off of the flat side. Next, I cut it to length in my case that was 2" longer than the plane iron. I wanted some material at the back to fit into the palm of my hand so the back is 1 1/2" high and the front is a 12-degree angle wedge. this is where the plane iron will bed. I draw everything out on the side of the blank then cut it to dimension with a hand saw.

Step 4: Shape the Body

It is important that it feel good in your hand so shape it to fit your own hand. On mine, I used rasps and files to round the back until it fit nicely in the palm of my hand. I also wanted to put a concave curve on the inside to match the iron, but that was not necessary. I just thought it would look good. Some might also want to put finger indents on the sides so it would be more comfortable. Here it is whatever you would want. just draw it out then shape it with a chisel, rasp, and file.

Step 5: Install Thread Insert

Next, I placed the iron on the bed and traced out where the hole in the iron was so I knew where to put the threaded Insert. Each threaded insert will use a different drill bit so check the bag on yours. Next, use a brace and bit to drill a hole through the sole at 90 degrees to the bed. The material is thin here so the insert may stick out the bottom or top. If that is the case just use a file to flatten it out.

Step 6: Cut Lever Cap

The lever cap is what holds the iron down tot he bed of the plane. I have a scrap of Padauk I thought would work well, but you can use whatever hardwood you want. Cut it to the width of the Iron and about 3/4" shorter than your iron. You want it to touch the iron near the tip of the bed and at the back of the iron. So to create the hollow in the middle I made a shallow cut about 1/8" deep across the middle of the blank and then chiseled away the material down to it. This can then be cleaned up with a rasp and file.

Step 7: Shape Lever Cap

Next, shape the lever cap to whatever shape you feel looks good. on mine, I wanted it round at the front and back to match the round on the back of the iron. You can use a rasp and file to quickly achieve this shape. Next, place the lever cap in place and with a long nose pencil or marker mark out where the threaded insert meets the lever cap and drill a hole for the thumb screw to go through the lever cap and into the threaded insert.

Step 8: Carve Cap Iron

I love to add a bit of style to the tool with a quick bit of carving. This took about 10 minutes to do. I just freehand drew out a spiral from end to end, and then with a V-tool followed the line tapping the chisel lightly with a small a mallet. This is a great way to learn carving. It is simple and quick and anyone can pick up the skill in just a few minutes of playing with it.

Step 9: Sharpen the Iron

Whether you got the iron second hand or bought it brand new it needs to be sharpened. I start by flattening the back with all three stones then using a leather strop to give it a final polish. Next use a honing guide to establish a bevel. Mine is at 25 degrees for this. Then same as the back go through all 3 stones and shine it up on the strop.

Step 10: Finish the Chisel Plane

For a finish, I use BLO and Past wax. I love the way it feels in the hand. start by applying the BLO. Let it soak in for 30 minutes or so then apply a second coat and let is sit for an hour. Then, come back and wipe off the excess. I then apply Past wax with my hand and let that sit for 30 minutes or so. And come back and buff off the excess with a rag. Make sure to get into the carving as any wax that dries in there will turn white. Last, assemble and give it a test run.

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