Wednesday, 7 May 2008

A pair of Norris rebate mitre planes

Well here they are - the “mystery planes” I have been teasing about.

Here is the deal... in 1941, Norris was commissioned to make a plane to be awarded as the first prize in a furniture making competition. The recipient of the plane kept it in new condition all these years. It was sold at auction in 2006 for over £16,000. Shortly after the auction - I was commissioned to make a reproduction of this plane with one change - infilled with ebony (the original was infilled with Rosewood).

It was a fantastic and challenging commission to say the least. The only reference I had was a series of photos and two dimensions - the overall length of 13-5/8" and the width of 2-3/8".

Norris clearly emptied the bag of tricks on this plane. The handle tilts to the left and right just like the Stanley No.10-1/4 - but it also pivots left and right.

I was also excited to try a wedged plane with an adjuster. The screw that passes through the keeper engages a brass insert in the wedge. The mechanics of this is very cool. The brass insert is offset and when the screw is tightened - it acts as a drawbore - driving the wedge tighter into the body of the plane. Very cool indeed!

After studying the photos I agreed to the commission. I also decided I would make a prototype to work out any unforeseen bugs. I did not want to “prototype” the commissioned plane. Infilling the prototype with Rosewood seemed like a logical choice.

Everything worked without a hitch for the most part - and keeping the prototype ahead a few steps certainly helped refine the building process.

The mouth was one aspect that I really had to psych myself up for. I use what can only be described as an antiquated method - but it has always worked for me, and I did not see any reason why I should re-invent the wheel now. Here are a series of photos of cutting the mouth.

I still use a hacksaw to cut the mouth on shoulder and rebate planes. The difference with this plane is that it is 2-3/8" wide as opposed to the widest shoulder at 1-1/2". I was a little nervous.

My friend Steve had stopped in a few times as I was working on the pair of planes and he asked how I was going to do the mouth. I handed him the hacksaw. His only comment was “ I gotta see this!” I guess his response freaked me out a little bit more, so I decided to cut and file the mouth on my own (sorry Steve). I was not sure I would be able to handle an audience if I messed it all up!

As it turned out - it worked perfectly and I felt bad for not inviting Steve to be there for it. He was on hand as I was finishing it up though - and I handed him the triangular piece of waste from the sole.

Here are a few detail shots of the mouth being done;

Two of three cuts are done - the last one is the “easiest” :)

Here are some further photos of the two planes.

I should also mention that I have decided to sell the Rosewood filled prototype. This is only the second prototype I have sold - all the others live on my bench. This plane is marked KP30-08 on the bed - KP stands for “Konrad Prototype”. The price is $9,000.00 Cdn.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well worth the waiT

7 May 2008 at 13:28  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Chris,

Sorry it took so long.


7 May 2008 at 15:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You and a few other modern tool makers stand out head and shoulders above the rest. I think you have distanced yourself from the pack with these.



7 May 2008 at 16:40  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the very, very kind comments.

Best wishes,

7 May 2008 at 17:34  
Blogger jyatulis said...

Truly remarkable! These planes are gorgeous, well worth waiting for the pictures. Glad to see you are back. There is no where else quite like your site to go during lunchbreak at work. Thanks also for the detailed pictures of cutting the throat in. I will be doing this soon with a shoulder plane and it makes total sense now on how to cut it.


7 May 2008 at 19:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of lapping music do you use for a plane like that?

8 May 2008 at 03:14  
Anonymous Rob said...


And uh, Wow!

Scaling the rest of the details in from photos and a couple of measurements is never easy, but when the detail is of this magnitude... Completely and utterly inspiring. Thanks for accepting this commission, it is yet another reminder of what can be possible.

8 May 2008 at 04:54  
Anonymous Robert Demers said...

Wow indeed
Utterly amazing and breathtaking.
A real piece of art. I have never seen nor heard of this Norris plane, for it's new owner to entrust you with it's commission, speaks volume about how highly regarded you are as a planemaker.
Congratulations, and praises are well deserved my friend.

When I retire, all I want, is one of your plane to use and cherish :-)

Bob, in Bagotville

8 May 2008 at 06:30  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Jay,

If you want to walk through the mouth cutting let me know - happy to help.

Lunch time at 7:47... dude - you are working too hard:)


8 May 2008 at 06:44  
Blogger Konrad said...

Lapping music - was an odd combo. Either The last sucker by Ministry, or Rasing Sands - Robert Plant & Allison Krauss.


8 May 2008 at 06:47  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Rob,

I would not have been able to do this without photoshop and adobe Illustrator. Those two pieces of software are an amazing combination and allowed me to figure it all out. It was a tremendous amount of work - but a lot of fun too.


8 May 2008 at 06:48  
Anonymous Michael Rogen said...



8 May 2008 at 08:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Korad - Really nice job, and very impressive bit of engineering based only on photographs. I'm a bit surprised the owner of the "craftsman of the year" Norris did not want you to at least look at the plane in person before copying it (assuming the person that asked for the copy is the same as the owner of the Norris antique).

The odd thing about this plane is that it's easily the most elaborate that Norris ever produced, but it is generally acknowledged by Norris collectors to be ungraceful and rather unappealing to the eye. It would therefore seem to be logical that it was intended to be used, though of course the recipient (or his heirs) were smart enough to recognize that using a one-of-a-kind plane like that would be financially unwise.

Really a super job, though someone needs to step up to the plate and give you a "Lancashire Pattern" hacksaw to replace that horrid Stanley plastic model. ;-)


8 May 2008 at 11:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to see these live, my screen keeps dropping out on Over load!!

Take care,

8 May 2008 at 11:45  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey Jim,

You know where I live... :) (assuming this is the Jim I think it is)!


8 May 2008 at 11:50  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi David,

Thank-you for your comments. I am pretty sure the original plane stayed in England and the person who commissioned the reproduction is neither the original owner nor the current owner.

I guess I shouldn't admit that I have a pair of yellow Stanley hacksaws then:)

Best wishes,

8 May 2008 at 11:57  
Anonymous said...


Just when I thought you leveled out and set the standard with infills, you rocketed that standard to a much higher and possibly unattainable level. Looks like great engineering and great, clean details. They are stunning!


8 May 2008 at 19:12  
Blogger jyatulis said...

Hi Konrad,

Thanks for the offer. I will definitely take you up on it. I hope to have the shell and infill done in about 2 weeks.

I guess 7:47 is late for lunch, but it would be an early dinner for us. Our twins keep us jumping :)


8 May 2008 at 22:42  

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