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Days like these

So far this summer there have been a few days where it isn’t quite surfable with a shortboard but still looking very inviting. Having recently tried out and enjoyed a hand plane i decided to make one…

1. Materials

Local timber yard

After some research there are many types of timber that are suitable for a handplane from the ultimate Paulownia hardwood (very hard to source and ultra light) to 18mm plywood. Whilst passing an old haunt of my carpentry days ‘Woodstock’ in Falmouth i popped in to check what offcuts they had that could work – i picked up a 400x200x30mm piece of tulip and a similar size beech for £2 each.

2. Design

HandplaneSome research led me to designing two shapes that i called the ‘B-52’ and ‘Zeppelin’. I designed two the two plan shapes in AutoCAD at 1:1 scale so we can print them out on an A1 sheet of paper and use an old boat building technique called ‘Lofting’ to transfer the shape to a hardboard template.

With the PDF file below you can print it out to an A1 sheet (ask a local architects office to print it out for you they will probably charge you £2-3)

Download Handplane A1 PDF Template – Message me if you would like the DWG

You can either ‘loft’ out the dimension which involves measuring out from the crosses on the centre line of the board using the given measurements which will give you a series of dots that you join to create the outline for the shape. Or cut out the shape from the paper and paste/glue to the hardboard to cut out.

The hand grab cut out is optional – ive used the leash strap system instead.


3. Construction

After you have transferred the plan shape hardboard cut it out with a Jigsaw

Cut out the shape leaving the pencil line on the template – its better to hand finish to the line with some sandpaper or a very sharp block plane

The hardboard template. Mark around this on your blank


The Rocker.

This part is optional ive seen many handplanes without the rocker cut or steam bent in and im sure it doesnt make a world of difference if you use a flat piece of ply/timber.

The technique to cut the rocker into the timber i used is called ‘kerfing’ where you use a series of saw cuts to remove the bulk of the timber as illustrated below. You need a sliding bench saw ideally to do this or you could use a circular saw. The idea is to make a series of saw cuts very close together using the depth gauge on the blade and then ‘hammer’ out the pieces then you’ll be left with a rough rocker which you can sand good with an orbital sander.

Sanding out the cuts to produce the rocker

The finished rocker. I had to keep re-applying the template outline as i sanded

Cut out with a jigsaw, and sanded back to the pencil line outline, ready for shaping the rails.

Rails – I used a router to form the shape of the rails until the guide bearing lost contact with the rail – too risky…just use a rolled up piece of sandpaper and your eye..


4. Finishing

Depending on what you used for your blank check what the best waterproofing solution is. For most hardwoods i would say oiling should should be fine. I used some old danish oil used to coat worktops. Apply liberally a first coat and wipe it in ideally with a lint free cloth or whatever you can find an old sock will work 🙂  Allow to dry 24hrs and reapply a second coat. This will also act as a primer for the final coat of varnish.

Decals – I had a sheet of t-shirt transfer paper that i thought might work on the timber before applying a final coat of varnish and it does. Print out your decals as per the paper instructions and apply with a hot iron – obviously make sure you use the protective paper/greaseproof paper.





Varnishing – I used some gloss yacht varnish to achieve a high gloss ‘glass’ finish following the process below

1. Sand all over with 120 grit.

2. Apply base coat of varnish using 25% white spirit solution

3. Sand base coat with 240 grit

4, Apply 1st coat – wait 24hrs to dry and then sand back using 400 grit

5. Apply 3rd and final coat

5. Leash


I used the velcro ankle attachment an old surfboard leash. Secure the leash around your hand, place the strap on the board and mark the screw holes through the strap. I used brass slotted screws with cups. Thats it ready to shred!