Sometimes a guy just needs a new toy
Have you got a Stanley #1?
Yeah, well, me neither. Sure they're adorable, but who is going to shell out that much coin? You'd have to be nuts. Besides, being ordinary factory production there are plenty around.
One day I decided I should have a toy plane of my own. Something nobody else ever made, because you have to know how much I hate plowing old ground. I hadn't ever built a glued up plane body before. I never saw a glued up plane in the general shape of an infill either. While I was at it, there were a few things that had always bugged me about tools in general. Like, how come so few fancy appointments had ever been done? What's wrong with an inlaid sole on a wooden plane?
I picked Bolivian rosewood for this project. Actually I pick Bolivian rosewood for a lot of tool projects. We had a hardware store manager in town for a while who was running up to Portland a lot. He offered to get me some premium wood one time so I gave him a $30 budget and told him to come back with 5/4 rosewood, as much as it'd buy, rough was fine. He brought back a beautiful plank and I've been using it ever since. It has a lighter color than Indian rosewood, but the density and hardness is about the same and it ages very beautiful.
The scale should be small, I thought, but I want a real tote, and not an ugly one either! This was pretty wild, the whole plane is only 4 1/4" long, all in. This makes the tote dinky! But I still wanted the plump swelled butt we all love, the narrow double curved throat and the elegant tip which looks like it turns down but actually turns up away from the user's hand. A tote tip something of an optical illusion. Your mind remembers the shape of a tote tip looking at the topside where it really does turn down, but your hand remembers the comfort from the bottom side where it actually turns up and does not dig into the web of your hand. It took carving more than a few plane and saw totes to get this one set in my mind, believe you me.
For the side profile I picked some waves and a swell to take the lever cap pin. The brass inlaid sole came next. If Stearns could inlay wood into cast iron for his plane soles, I could sure inlay brass into mine. It was kinda fun working to such a close tolerance. The actual, in front of the mouth wear strip, is screwed on with small brass screws and the heads filed back off.
I decided on a lever cap instead of a wedge. Lever caps are cool and besides it gave me decorating opportunities. I used a trusty scrap of old steelyard scale beam. Most of these are solid brass. Just for fun I overlaid it with nickel silver. I'd have made the whole lever cap from nickel but who has thick slugs of nickel silver laying around? I milled out a recess for a rosewood inlay in the lever cap. I'd never seen this done but a guy named Harvey McBurnette sure did some drop dead pocketknife handles this way and I wanted me a piece of that!
For the lever cap screw I inlaid mother of pearl into more nickel. The same pearl is carried over on top of the bun, or front handle.