Classic Hand Planes

Where the precision hand plane becomes art.

The No.985 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.

No.985 Group.
No.985 Boxwood.
No.985 Ready to fit handles.
No.985 Sole detail.
No.985 Parts.
No.985 Component machining.
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 Cutting the Lever Cap. No.985 Cutting the Blade Bed. No.985 Fitting the Sides. No.985 Shaping the Handle.

No.985 Assembling the Sides. No.985 Part made Components. No.985 Partly Assembled. No.985 Cutting the Lever Cap.

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.