Making a Curve-sole Plane

I am hoping to get into some chairmaking in the near future. I have many of the tools I will need for this, but there are still a few I do not have.

I want to be able to produce carved chair seats like this.

There are a number of tools that you can use for shaping wood like this.

You may start with an Adze. I still need one of these, so may make do with chiseling out the rough shape with carving gouges.

You then need to start to smooth out the rough shape, finishing off with scrappers.

I have the scrapers, but inbetween you need something like a Travisher. These appear to be very rare and hardly ever appear on Ebay. You can get very good ones from, but these are nearly £100 including shipping.

Another alternative is a Curve-sole Plane. I have a small old wooden plain that I never use and that I really have no use for. I have a metal block plane that is its equivalent and that I always used instead of this wooden plane. This is then an ideal candidate for modification. Yes, I could start from scratch, but I am not really that good at my woodwork yet and this will save the expense of getting in the wood to make the plane from. On top of this, it already has a plane iron that I would have to buy if I was starting from scratch.

I used as my inspiration for this a post by Paul Sellers on Making a Curve-soled Plane, and part two.

So I started with a rather tired old wooden plane.

I cut a pattern for the circumference of the sole. Basically, this was just a small length of arc with a radius of 7″ cut out of cardboard. I transferred this arc to the plane.

I cut the sole of the plane roughly to this shape with a coping saw, then smothed this off with a spokeshave.

After smoothing off the back to front radius I then worked on the side to side curve. The pattern for this was a cardboard cutout of an arc with a radius of 3″. This cutout was a negative or concave cutout so that it could be held over the upturned plan to see how the arc was coming on.

The end result was a pleasingly rounded sole to the old plane.

I then dressed the wood of the plane with Lord Sheraton’s Caretaker Wood Balsam. I can get this form Morrisons supermarket. I apply this with steelwool. On old planes I first apply a good helping and then scrub with the wire wool. The spirit in the balsam appears to do a good job of lifting the years of grime from the tool, then I wipe off the excess with an old cloth and polish. As you polish the spirit in, the balsam evaporates leaving a nice max polished finish.

I then cleaned the iron. Reshaped it to the new shape of the plane and sharpened.

The finished job appears to be a nice curved-sole plane, made from an old plane I had no use for.

I have not used this plane in anger yet, but hope to be getting on with my first chair soon.

Originally published at on December 4, 2015.