Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Our new metal replica plane

Our new replica of the 16th century plane at the MAK museum in Vienna (Inv. nr. MAK F.1316).

Some years ago I discussed the medieval metal planes in a blogpost, which also featured this plane. At that time I had visited the depot of the Museum für angewandte Kunst in Vienna, Austria and had the opportunity to measure the plane and take photos of it (sorry, I had to sign only for personal use). The plane felt then very comfortable in my hands and I liked the design. Reason to try to find a blacksmith who was able to make a replica. This year, I contacted Klaas Kloosterhuis, a smith well-known for his historic reproductions of armour, but also for more mundane items, such as hinges and locks (e.g. for my toolchest and the scapradekijn) and carpenter tools. Remarkably fast the replica plane was made and delivered.

 My drawing of the plane and the black and white photo of the MAK F.1316 plane scanned for Die Geschichte des Hobels by Joseph Greber.

The plane is now visible as well in the online collection of the MAK. Interestingly, the plane comes from the collection of Dr. Albert Figdor, a famous Austrian medieval art collector of which many items of his collection nowadays reside in museums worldwide, including much medieval furniture.

Yes, the plane is identical in size, and the thickness of the steel the same. However in my thoughts the original was lighter in weight, but my memory can be mistaken after all those years. Anyway, the sole and the blade of the new plane needed some extra flattening and sharpening. Also, I made a wooden inlay frog of  hornbeam for a better support of the plane blade. Setting the blade appeared to be a tricky process: when I added the wedge, the blade continuously protruded to far out of the sole. To solve this I had to clamp the plane on a piece of wood (hornbeam) beneath the sole, to close the opening for the blade. Adding the wedge now provided enough resistance from the wood below to set the blade optimal for producing thin shavings. The plane works very well and I am quite happy with it.

The plane and its thin shavings.

As I am not able to show all the sides of the original plane, you will have to do with all sides of the replica. Both sides of the replica.

The back side and the sole of the plane. The plane has a large gap for the blade, which is inserted upside down, as common for low-angle planes.

The top view of the plane. You can see the hornbeam frog behind the iron. The wedge pushes the top metal strip to the pin, and in turn, the metal strip pushes against the plane blade near the opening. Perhaps this was an early start of the cap iron.


  1. This is a very nice plane. Also i find it interesting that you are able to make such fine shavings even with such a wide throat. Are you using it as a smoothing plane/does that seem to be, in your mind, now that you have it to hand, what its original purpose was?


    1. I was surprized at the fine shavings as well. As the plane blade is upside down, it fills most of the throat. I think the purpose was either a small smoothing plane or a block plane like the Stanley 220.

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