Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Some work I did in 2020, and…


The new Voigt Planes shop

It's been a while since I've blogged, so I'd like to take a look back at some of the work I've done over the last year. 

2020 was a tough year, like it was for most people, but I did manage to break some new ground in my planemaking adventures. First and foremost, my wife and I bought a house (first time!), which came with the 900 sf garage pictured above. I've got a lot of plans for this space, so stay tuned!

Early in the year, I added dado planes to my lineup. These are loosely based on some early American examples, and use wooden thumbscrews and a wooden depth stop. I'm extremely happy with this design--it works great, and keeps both the weight and the price down. And the wooden screws are useful in several types of planes; more on that below.

The idea for wooden thumbscrews actually came out of some research I've been doing at Colonial Williamsburg. In 2017,  I began studying their newly acquired, enormous collection of the earliest American planes by Cesar Chelor and John & Francis Nicholson. In 2019, I did a presentation at their annual Working Wood in the 18th Century conference, and this year, I wrote an article for Mortise and Tenon Magazine that focused on Cesar Chelor.

As part of my work for Colonial Williamsburg, I've been making reproductions (or near-reproductions) of Chelor's planes. In 2019, I made a panel raiser and a stick and rabbet plane; in 2020, I finally tackled the Yankee plow plane. I started with a lefty prototype, since I'm left-handed.


Once I was satisfied, I built two right-handed models for the Hay Cabinet Shop at Williamsburg. One of the planes is made from traditional beech (like nearly all of my planes), while the other is made from yellow birch, which was the species preferred by the early American makers (Nicholson, Chelor, etc). 


In the next post, I'll preview some plans for the shop in the coming year. Happy 2021 everybody; hope the year is off to a good start for you! It's got to be better than last year!


  1. Indeed, awesome. Well researched and executed. Nice work

  2. Steve,

    Good to hear from you, love your new shop space,


    1. Thanks Ken. I tipped my beer glass in your general direction at 1200 hours on 1/20, hope you felt the disturbance in the force. ;)

  3. Steve, I am very curious as to your thoughts on them he beech vs the yellow birch. Both in making the planes, and in their use. Would you mind sharing?

    1. Hi Austin,
      Birch is a little softer and easier to work. It's a little "fuzzier" too, something I notice mostly when carving. I suspect it's a wears a little faster than beech and might not be ideal for something like a rabbet plane. For a bench plane though, I think it's fine. For the plough, it's a non-issue because of the metal skate.