Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Plane Tote

This weekend I am attending a workshop at Gary Rogowski's Northwest Woodworking Studio in Portland.  The topic is Hand Planes, Scrapers, and Spokeshaves, and we are encouraged to bring our own tools, especially if we have questions about them which I certainly do.

I'm bringing the main 3 bench planes: a jack/fore (vintage Stanley #5), a jointer/try (vintage Stanley #7) and a smoother (a brand new Lie-Nielsen #3).  The jack has given me no problems, I feel like I understand it pretty well.  I've added a Hock iron to it, ground at a 10" radius which works beautifully for taking deep scoops out of the wood, and when I put the stock iron back into it, I can almost dial it in to a smoothing-like role.  However, I also bought a Hock iron for the jointer plane, and I cannot get it to fit right.  I believe the mouth needs to be filed open, but I need someone who knows more to confirm this before I destroy the body.  My smoother works very well, usually, but I am still getting tracks (lines on the edge of the planed area) fairly often, no matter how I adjust it.  I'm hopeful that the workshop will address these concerns and ensure that my tools are tuned and ready to go.

I've also had trouble getting my cabinet scraper sharpened properly, even though I have read perhaps a dozen "how tos" on the subject and they all make perfect sense.

At any rate, since I do have questions about my own tools, and not just general questions about how to use these tools, I am bringing them with me.  As I thought about how to transport them, I couldn't really come up with a good answer, so I had to make something.

This tote is brutally simple - based in large part on the packing boxes.  It was made in half a day.  I would have liked to have spent more time, but I just did not have it.  It will serve its purpose (to hold my planes for the car trip and allow them all to be safely carried with one hand), though I still intend to add a lid to it.  It might even be a semi-permanent home for them until I get my toolchest completed.  It has room for the 3 bench planes, the card scarper, burnisher, spare plane irons, block of plane wax, and a "woobie travel tube", which is a spice jar doused with jajoba oil and a saturated synthetic towel, used to wipe down and oil the tools.  Its nailed together - no fancy dovetails, and the handle was quickly shaped with a bowsaw and a couple rasps.  It will not win any beauty pageants, but I feel much better about sticking my planes in the back of the car in this tote than I did with any of my other ideas (cardboard box, rolled up towels, etc).

This was a fun project, using a couple lessons learned in the packing box, such as not bothering to carefully dimension the end pieces, but roughing them and then trimming in place.  I actually measured nothing - I set the planes down on the floor piece, and cut accordingly.  All other pieces were sized to each other.  This is a fast and enjoyable way to work!  The proportions therefore do not follow any pre-approved or golden ratio, but this is a purely utilitarian object and not furniture.  I am already fond of it though, perhaps because it fills a huge need not only raised by the workshop, but the fact that my current workbench is not in the shop, but in an adjacent room and I do have to carry the planes back and forth frequently.  I've been wanting to make one of Jim Tolpin's totes for a while, and still plan to, but this is already a welcome addition to the shop.

And before the flames about storing planes sole-down: I retract the irons before setting them in like this, and they are also up on tiny shims for good measure.


  1. I'm pretty much in the same exact position. next weekend I go to port townsend for a class on planes, and need a tote to carry them.

    I think you've learned the lessons well from the packing box, as that lack of measuring is something I've run across as well when I work freely.

    Good stuff, and happy planing

  2. Brutally simple? I think it's lovely. It's funny how that works out though. Out of all the things that I've made in the last few years the ones that get the most attention are a bunch of simple crates that I made out of sitka spruce and screwed together. They're knotty, they're cheap, and everyone loves them and wants me to make them one. Who knew? :0)

  3. I love it when the Badgers post together.

    The tote worked really well for the class! I actually refined the handle a little bit using a spokeshave. I would have preferred to have had a spokeshave when I made it, and now I really want one, so much fun! But yes, the simple things are often the best things. I plan to keep this tote around for a while, its nice for hauling the 3 bench planes, and getting them out of harms way when they are not needed for a moment. Someday I will have a workbench with a nice shelf on the bottom for them, but for now this is a nice tabletop option.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.