Holtey Classic Hand Planes

Where precision toolmaking becomes art
Holtey No.98 Smoother

No.985 Smoothing plane

This one has certainly been a long journey and now I am here to present the finished No.985 smoothing plane. All those thoughts that I wanted to put in print during its making have gone, so I will do my best to document the journey.

I always keep reflecting back to the beginning with my 15 ½” Norris A1 pattern and a lot of things have changed since then. It has always been my intention to make each new plane better than those which preceded it. Of course the difficulty factor keeps compounding especially as my poor old brain is 71 years old now, but that is no excuse for not improving.

I seem to be busier since I announced my retirement, and my ideas haven’t stopped so I will continue with new projects in limited numbers, but at a slower pace. I am now moving on to my next project, and will not be making any more No.985 Smoothers.

This No.985 plane had to be simple, easy on the eye. No bells and whistles, no bling. The main reason for not including an adjuster was to keep the footprint of the plane small and tidy. I wanted to take the criteria of this smoother back to the original design by making it shorter.

I settled for 7 7/8” sole length when the original Norris, Spiers, Mathieson and others of this time were 7 ½”. I felt I wanted that little bit of extra room for comfort (in modern times we are generally bigger), and this was modelled on myself. It is made for the thumb and three fingers to comfortably grip the handle with the index finger resting down the side of the blade or plane for orientation and feedback.

Although with the No.985 I was aiming for small and simple, it has turned out a bit like the swan, beautiful and graceful on top, but rather busy under the waterline. This shows up in some of my pictures. Above and below you can see some of my workshop pictures, taken as I documented the making of the No.985 on my blog.

No.985 Side view.
No.985 With blade removed.
No.985 Group.

technical details

Plane is 7 7/8” sole length, takes a 1 15/16” blade made of stainless PM metal. The body is 416 stainless and the handles are Honduran Rosewood (this is a CITES issue now and it is becoming difficult to export to the USA, however my stock is years old and recycled but running out rapidly, there will be no more). I have a few with brass sides and Boxwood handles where the contrast between steel and brass show some of the fixings.

No.985 Parts. No985. Parts.
No.985 Work in progress. No.985 Work in progress.
No.985 Bridge detail. No.985 Bridge detail.
No.985 Parts. No985. Parts.
No.985 Lever cap work in progress. No.985 Lever cap work in progress.
No.985 Handles work in progress No.985 Handles work in progress.
No.985 Sole rear detail. No.985 Sole rear detail.
No.985 Side profiling. No.985 Side profiling.

precision engineering without compromise

Setting post

In my No.985 smoother design I decided to omit an adjuster in order to achieve a compact footprint and a simple aesthetic. I realise that for those who are used to my adjusters, some may find setting the blade a little tricky, so I have decided to make an option and incorporate a setting post on the blade.

As you can see this enables the blade to be easily tapped in any direction, it's not rocket science but I find it preferable to a standard sneck.

Although I have only a few planes left the post can be retro fitted to the blade on request - it is press fitted and riveted and so is a permanent fixture.
No.985 Blade detail.
No.985 Side view.