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