The world needs more wooden planemakers – it can be difficult to find vintage hollows and rounds and complex moulders that don’t need serious work (or are hopeless). Matt Bickford has his hands full; Old Street Tool isn’t taking new orders while they try to reduce their order backlog.
So today I was quite eager to try the planes from Caleb James, a planemaker and chairmaker in Greenville, S.C. Caleb makes a full range of wooden planes from quartersawn American beech that he personally cuts and dries.
I took his planes for a test drive during the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at the American College of the Building Arts today and was impressed. Very impressed. His planes work as well as the planes from Matt Bickford and Old Street. They are responsive, have tight mouths and eject shavings smoothly.
If I didn’t have all the hollows and rounds I need, I would have placed an order on the spot. I might ask him to build me a couple of beading planes I want to add to my tool chest. So if you are thinking about wooden moulding planes, you now have another option – and a very good one at that.
Here are some of his prices from his 2014 price list:
• Matched pair of hollows and rounds: $450-$465
• Rabbet plane (5/8”, 3/4” or 7/8”, with or without persimmon boxing): $250-$285
• Try plane (2” iron, 24” long): $485
• Snipe bills (1/2” radius): $545/pair
• Coffin smoother: $365
Check out Caleb’s blog and web site here. In addition to being an accomplished toolmaker, Caleb makes Windsor chairs and is whip-smart. Check him out.
— Christopher Schwarz
(An Open Letter)
Yes, we have all been reading Sir Walter Scott’s journal, and are noway surprised but every way pleased to hear that you have taken to heart his pathetic lament when in old age winter restricted his outdoor exercise, and he regretted that he was no mechanic to solace himself with a turning-lathe or joiner’s bench. And so you have invested in an American lathe with velocipede action, which you drive sitting, hoping to get as much exercise in an hour of an evening at home as by a six-mile run on a tricycle.
Meantime, by way of beginning, you have broken the points of your whole kit of tools and crumpled up two leaves of the quick-feed pinion, and with them three teeth of the rack, to say nothing of smashing a finger-nail with the jaw of the indispensable scrollchuck (by the by, a rubber fetlock-ring effectually guards against this last disaster), and the net result of your labours is some bushels of shavings with a couple of pounds of brass and iron dust. Naturally at this point you desire an opinion on your prospects as a craftsman.
Many persons upon whom fortune does not smile, or who wish to be rich very quickly, think that nowadays it is not possible for a simple man to get to the top of the tree, because all occupations are so overstocked, and there are already too many people in the world. That this opinion is a false one, and that the right man can always do something for himself, if he has the real stuff in him, and perseveres, the following true story proves:
In the year 1826 a poor journeyman turner named Muhle, in worn-out shoes through which his bare toes projected, with a knapsack on his weary back, arrived at a little village not far from Colmar, in Alsace. In this village was an engine-factory, in which our workman had come to look for employment. But the poor fellow’s ragged, miserable appearance did not tell in his favor, and the master of the factory at once sent him about his business.