A block plane is a small woodworking plane with a single cutting iron
laid on a plane bed at a low angle (20 degrees, or less), and with a
cutting edge bevel on the upper side of the blade.
The design of this type of plane with the low angled
cutter makes the tool ideal for working the end of a piece of wood
(the end grain). The low angle of the cut and the small handy size
of a block plane also make the tool very useful for finishing small
pieces of work.
The block plane came about to satisfy the need of carpenters who required a tool which they could use in one hand while working cross grain, particularly at the end of boards; this used to be known as "Blocking in", a term which surely must have lead to the name "block plane" being coined.
Historically, as far as I am aware, block planes are a fairly recent design which began to take hold when constructed from metal in the 19th century and then in mass in the 20th century.
From the books I have studied and for the many years I have handled antique tools I do not recall seeing a mass produced wooden block plane (with a blade set at a low angle: 20 degrees or less) manufactured by a large well known maker.
There are many different models of iron block planes which have been made in
the past and which are produced today. See the following pages to
see many examples of the old and new block planes produced:
- Old Block Planes
- New Block Planes
Generally all of these block planes are very similar with only a small difference between them. The main underlying differences of the majority of these block planes which a user should be aware of when choosing to buy a block plane are:
Other factors include:
The double ended block plane has one blade which can be placed in one of two positions. The first position is the standard block plane position for normal block plane work, the second position is right at the rear which allows the user to use the plane for bullnose work.
Model makers planes are very small planes with a single non-adjustable plane blade; the blade can only be adjusted by manually securing the blade in position. These planes comes with flat, convex or concave soles. These types of planes are also used-by and reffered to as violin makers planes, instrument makers planes and pattern makers planes. Some of these types of planes have a tail handle, some have no handle. Planes with the tail handle are sometime called a squirrel plane.
A typical metal / iron block plane consists of the following parts:
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