Wood Bed Plane




Introduction: Wood Bed Plane

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first to…

I needed a hand plane, but had none where I am. I also had long thought about making a wood bed plane. But, I did not want to make one with exotic woods or exotic tools, and I did not want to spend a lot of time making it,


  • 3/4" plywood
  • 5/16" hardwood dowel rod
  • Plane blade
  • Drywall screws
  • Glue
  • Sandpaper


  • Table saw
  • Bevel finder
  • Drill and bits
  • Screwdriver
  • Square
  • C-clamps

Saw four pieces of plywood 2 1/4" x 12".

I am using a home conversion table saw from an electric circular saw. I use an accurate framing square to set the rip fence parallel to the saw blade. The rip fence is a piece of plywood with a straight edge. I did not do an Instructable on this exact table saw, but at this link you can find an Instructable on its "big brother." We spend several weeks a year visiting family in another state and I now have a home built table saw in both places.

Step 1: Determine the Blade Angle and Record It

I want the blade angle to be as shallow as possible. I set my bevel finder to that angle and use it to mark pieces and set the miter gauge.

Step 2: Cut Body Pieces at the Blade Angle

I bisected a body piece with a cut at the blade angle. I used a plywood triangle on the miter gauge face to support the body piece for such a shallow angle,

Step 3: Fit the Rest of the Body

Shown is fitting and cutting the front internal body pieces to length. Enough opening in the bed of the plane is needed for wood chips to pass easily.

The plane blade is only a little wider than the opening for it. Rather than try for two kerfs in the sides of the outer body members, I chose to make a kerf in only one side.

Step 4: Glue

Glue the body pieces together. Check to make certain the plane blade fits into its slot and moves as it should.

Step 5: Position and Clamp

Glue can make things slide around and cause fit problems. Push the body pieces down so their bottom edges are firmly and smoothly against the flat surface under them while clamping. Check that the blade is square to the side of the assembly.

Step 6: Secure With Screws

After the glue has set a little, I counter sunk for the 1 1/2" drywall screws I had so the screws would pass through as many layers as possible. Screws were added from both sides.

Step 7: Check Blade Fit

My blade's cutting edge was not parallel to the bed of the plane. I needed to remove some wood so I could adjust the cutting edge and make it parallel to the plane bed.

Step 8: Smoothing the Bed

Place some sandpaper gritty side up on a flat surface. Sand the bottom of the plane bed with it by moving the bed. This will smooth the bed. It will also remove irregularities that should not have crept into the plane bed. It may seem this should not need to be done, but videos of old planes in restorstion often show hollows and other irregularities in a plane bed. Mark a zig zag line across the plane bed with a pencil and use its fading away to judge when you sre finished.

Step 9: Trim the Ends

The body parts were not supposed to be staggered, but it happened. Trim the ends of the plane.

Step 10: Drill for a Dowel Rod

I guessed at where to locate a dowel rod for securing the blade with a wedge. After I had drilled a hole by hand with an electric drill, I positioned the dowel and marked its proper location on the inside of the other side of the body. I removed the dowel and drilled the second hole.

Step 11: Size the Wedge

The shank of a drill makes a good sizing gauge. The space between the dowel and the blade is almost 7/32".

Step 12: Mark the Wedge and Saw

I marked a wedge on a piece of oak. I left plenty of wiggle room in case I did not cut the wedge as accurately as hoped.

Step 13: Mark and Cut the Wedge to Length

Cut the wedge to length.

Step 14: Use

The shavings are from some soft pine. If there is a weakness on this plane, it is that rough grain can push the blade back into the body. That is even after setting the wedge with a hammer. See the second photo. I folded a piece of 150 grit sandpaper and placed it under the plane blade before tapping the wooden wedge into place. Now the blade does not slip out of place when the blade hits rough grain, although precise adjustment by tapping the wedge or the blade can be tricky. The blade tends to creep toward the bed of the plane when I tap on the wedge. Sometimes I begin with the edge of the blade still inside the plane and tap on the wedge until I get the right amount of edge showing below the bed. I would like to develop a metal screw mechanism to adjust the depth of cut much like a commercial plane, but I am still thinking about that. (I did add the cover photo as a third photo. It was originally to be the photo in the Introduction, but it got lost when I was uploading the Instructable from an iPad in the mobile app.)

Adjusting a wooden plane is a bit different from a metal plane with screw adjustment. There are some good videos at YouTube on how to do it. Here is one.

This is an easy and inexpensive way to make a long bed plane that might be too expensive for the average home workshop user to buy.

Be the First to Share


    • Space Contest

      Space Contest
    • Back to School: Student Design Challenge

      Back to School: Student Design Challenge
    • Halloween Contest

      Halloween Contest


    trike road poet
    trike road poet

    2 years ago

    Like a Japanese plane in a way. I need a shallow angle plane for dressing end grain, and this looks like an ideal way to make my own. Thanks for posting such a great project.

    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you for looking and for commenting. Articles I had seen on making a wood bed plane seemed to require exotic woods and special tools plus very good skills. It was nice to find a way to use common wood, tools and skills to do a credible job. A key thing is scribbling a wavy pencil line across the bottom and then moving the bed back and forth on sandpaper against a flat surface to remove hollows and other irregularities. It takes some time, but the results are very, very good. A weak aspect of this is that the blade can too easily be knocked loose. A mechanical screw system could help a lot. You have the ability to modify any and all features on a plane like this to suit your exact needs. I wish you much success.

    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you. This is still my only plane in the location where I made and keep it. I am surprised how often I use it, although I often use it to remove a little material, not for joining before gluing or some similar precision need.

    I have since watched some YouTube videos on trying an old wood bed plane. Often there are high spots or shallow spots that have developed through the years. Somehow when I was gluing up the bed on this plane the two center pieces dried in place with a little shallow area on the bottom of the bed. I put down a piece of fine sandpaper and moved the plane back and forth over it until the shallow area was gone. An old trick is to make a wavy line across the plane bed with a pencil. After sanding remnants of the line remain in the shallow area.

    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 5 years ago

    Thank you.


    5 years ago

    Wov, nice instructable :) I am definitely going to make that plane :) That table saw also looks nice, could you make an instructable about that saw too, thanks :)

    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 5 years ago

    In the last paragraph of the Introduction there is a link to an Instructsble on the construction of another, very similar table saw with more features. And, that Instructable has a link to another Instructable about the first such table saw conversion I ever made. The newer version is an improvement on the older version in some respects. Both include provisions for reproducible accuracy, as well as quick removal of the saw if you need to cut panels, etc.

    You will need a truly accurate framing square. Many squares you buy are not very accurate. (Slide one leg against an edge known for certain to be straight. Draw a line along the edge of the other leg. Flip the square over and the leg of the square should be exactly parallel to the line you marked.)

    You will also need a good miter gauge. The Instructables I linked show how to make a good miter gauge. My miter gauges do not have degree markings because I prefer to set a bevel finder to the angle I need and use it to set the miter gauge.

    Thank you for your enthusiastic comments.

    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 5 years ago

    thank you for your comments. I have been using it to remove material so some semi-rough things fit together. I have not tried to use it for smoothing or fine woodworking. I would like to develop a screw adjustment of metal for fine tuning the cut and making it stay as set. I am also thinking about a much longer plane for joining. The bed does not wear, even though made from common plywood. I may apply some paraffin for a really smooth bed, even though it is quite good now. I could also round some corners or apply traditional handles.