Plane Till

Borrowing design features from the pros helped.

SHOP OWNER: Dave Anderson

    For the last year or so I've been racking the old brain to come up with an efficient way to store hand planes, which have been spread all over the shop since removing the old shelves. I came up with a sketch based on the old woodworker’s tradition of stealing good ideas. This rack is a bit of a hybrid design featuring the cubbyhole concept from Andy Rae's fine tool cabinet pictured in “The Toolbox Book” by Jim Tolpin. For the upper part, I copied Chris Becksvoort's hinged ramp design, which I saw in the Tools and Shops issue of Fine Woodworking two years ago. The result works well and as you will see in the final pictures, it works well next to my saw till which was completed early this spring.
    Although during construction I did kill plenty of electrons, I also did much of the work with hand tools. I am not a purist. The first picture shows the hand planing of the poplar carcass parts before cutting the dados for the shelves.
Plane Till

    This is the initial assembly after painting the undersides and insides of the carcass. Painting before assembly is much easier and there’s much less mess. There are 40 stopped dados to hold the cubbyhole dividers, which will slip in from the back. I cut the curves on the upper part of the edge at the bandsaw and faired them with a spokeshave. I prepared all of the final surfaces with hand tools, no sandpaper here.
Plane Till

    Here are the dividers, which I made from mahogany, resawn to ¼" thick, along with the rest of the Lexington Green milk paint applied to the carcass. Many hours went into shaping and making all of those dividers fit.




  Plane Till

    After dyeing the dividers with an aniline dye, I added three coats of garnet shellac, and topped it all off with a couple of coats of blonde dewaxed shellac. Boy, what a pain it was to rub all these out with steel wool and wax!

  Plane Till

    With the back installed, the carcass is ready to have the hinged ramps installed using piano hinges. The tan/gray floor of each shelf consists of a 1/16-inch thick cork/nitrile rubber blend, glued in place with good old yellow woodworker’s glue. These pads will protect my plane irons from damage while stored in the till.
Plane Till

    Finally, the plane till was completed Friday night and an abortive attempt made to hang it on the wall. It was just too heavy and awkward for one person to handle, so I called a woodworking friend who lives two streets away and we got it installed and filled.
    This photo shows the obligatory glass of wine with which I celebrate the completion of all my projects. It has become sort of a trademark. Note that the planes on the bench are the ones for which there isn't any room in the new Plane Till. I just couldn't make this thing any larger and have it hang within easy reach of the bench. My guess is that fully loaded this thing weighs in at between 150 to 175 pounds or possibly more. I haven't taken the time to calculate the individual plane weights and add them up.
Plane Till

    Although this project took about 80-90 total hours of actual working time to complete, I spent about a third or more of it working on the finish. I'm happy with the results and have now reclaimed most of the horizontal surfaces in my bench room. The ramp on the right hand side will house my spokeshaves, but I have yet to decide on how to configure it. That can wait; the important thing is that my shop is now at least in a moderate state of organization.

. . . Dave Anderson



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P.O. Box 493
Springtown, PA 18081