Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Home for My Handplanes

Over the years, I've built up a fair-sized collection of handplanes.  I've got a block plane, nos. 3, 4, 4-1/2, 5-1/4, 6, 7-1/2, a chisel plane, a shoulder plane, a bevel-up smoother, a low-angle jack plane, a scrub plane, a router plane, an edge plane, and a skew rabbet plane, not to mention a couple of fix-up candidates.  Of course, since I teach using handplanes at Woodcraft, I can justify having them since I need to demonstrate them and let my students try them out.  And, I really enjoy using them in my various woodworking projects.
My handplane cabinet

But storing them has always been a bit of a problem.  For the last several years, I've kept them in plane socks and stored them in a cardboard box.  But the downsides of this are the inconvenience of pulling them out to use them and the weight of the box when carrying it to class.  Frankly, I began to fear the bottom of the box would tear out, putting my valuable collection at significant risk of damage.

That's when I decided I needed a better home for my planes, one where I could grab them easily when needed in my work.  And, frankly, where I could see and enjoy them.  So I decided to build myself a cabinet to house my collection.

The shelf you see in the photo is the result.  I built it out of poplar that I jointed and planed by machine.  I cut through dovetails for the corner joints and joined the shelves to the sides with sliding dovetail joints.  I added small slips of wood to the shelves to lift the plane blades off the shelves.  I finished the shelf with Watco dark walnut Danish oil and coated that with two coats of shellac.  I rabbeted the back (by hand, of course) to house a 1/4 inch plywood back.  The cabinet is hung with a French cleat screwed into the concrete blocks of my basement woodshop wall.

I'm happy with the result.  And, I'm glad to have the project finished.  It stayed on my workbench for far too long.  Now that my bench is clear, I have room to move on to other projects.  And, I've gotten my planes out of that box and out where I can see and use them.


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