The best present Santa brought me this season was a new wooden scrub plane made by the Czech company Pinie. It has a beautiful rhino handle up front and a wooden body made from beech and a sole from hornbeam, all sourced from the forests of the Czech Republic. Pinie wooden planes in various shapes and sizes are available on Amazon and are very reasonably priced when compared with their metal counterparts.
The blade of the plane is curved and is set at 45% in the body of the plane. The 3 mm thick metal of the blade does a great job of quickly removing thick shavings from the surface of the board through the large mouth of the plane, leaving gouged grooves like a gently ploughed field across the surface of the wood. These can then be planed out by a jack plane when the board is approaching the required dimension.
By taking diagonal stokes at at 45 degrees to the grain of the wood it is possible to deal with knots and undulating grain to begin to shape the piece into a board.
I really enjoy taking ‘found’ green wood, such as the fallen limb of a tree and after initial shaping with the axe, use a variety of planes to shape the wood down to make an object such as a chopping board.
Here in the photo I’m working on a piece of field maple (Acer campestre, Britain’s only truly native maple species) which snapped in December storms to leave a large split piece of wood. I’ll slowly thin it to size, letting the surface dry out a little before taking off a few more millimetres of wood and repeating until it’s ready to be put aside to season and then, perhaps a year later , come back to it for final dimensioning with jack and jointer planes.
Here’s another piece of field maple that is destined to become the hardwood handle of my three foot crosscut saw to replace a temporary softwood handle. It will be a good feeling to know the provenance of the wood in my hand when it is sawing up the next fallen limb which has fallen victim to high winds.
Having played with the Pinie scrub plane (I’ve seen them described affectionately as ‘woodies’) I am keen to know how it would compare with a vintage Stanley No. 40 scrub plane, but looking at their prices on eBay is a bit scary. I would also like to try the Lie-Neilsen scrub plane which is based on the Stanley design, but that may have to wait until Santa visits again next year!