A new (old) branch of toolmaking has seen very much of a renaissance over the past 20+ years: the infill style of hand planes which was very popular in the early half of the 20th century has found new life. I read a lot about woodworkers going "back" to using more hand tools to do tasks that machines have taken over and as a result "nice" handcrafted handtools are coming out of the woodwork (so to speak!) One only has to do an online search to see makers offering handbuilt custom saws, chisels (like my Blue Spruce stuff) and various marking and cutting tools designed to make sawdust. Now, old school will tell you its not the tool, its the craftsman - I agree 100%, but if you can afford it, isn't it a lot nicer to do the same job with a super-sweet handtool custom made just for you? C'mon!
Enough of my musings....
In the world of infill planes, one name has emerged as being credited with reviving this almost lost art - Karl Hotley. Many writers in the trade credit the UK-based Hotley with setting the standard for this realm and while I am not here to argue about which I do not know, he is considered by most I have read about the pre-emminent infill plane builder today.
So of course I had to have one!!
|Karl Hotley 11SA Smoothing Plane|
This little darling is my Hotley smoothing plane, just 6 5/8" long is a testament to fine craftsmanship in a tool. Its dovetailed bronze sides, substantial steel sole and rosewood infill pack a lot of mass (2.4 lbs) into a small space. As I evolve (revert?) towards using more hand tools in my work, this baby will fill a nice little gap as a smoother for difficult rough stock; it just feels so nice in the hand, which makes the tedious task of smoothing a real pleasure.
Here's another look:
|Side View of Hotley Smoother|
While this is the first of my custom hand made planes, it is surely not the last. Woodworking for me is a pursuit of pleasure, using nice equipment built by craftsmen like myself only serves to increase the pleasure I get from my craft.
Back to the shop...