My new router plane. The partridgewood handles were my choice but it's really tricky to work (sorry Richard).

My new router plane. The partridgewood handles were my choice but it's really tricky to work (sorry Richard).

There's a quiet phenomenon which fascinates me, and I would call it 'backyard engineering'. I think it's fair to describe it as a phenomenon when it produces the World's smallest V12 engine, working locomotives that take years to build... and hand tools that you simply cannot buy.

Richard is just one of those creators working variously from a garage or a shed (depending on the weather), producing hand tools which are truly outstanding. I found Richard by accident having seen his router plane - I really wanted one so asked nicely how that might be arranged. A good old-fashioned barter came about in which Richard got one of my Moxon vices and I now own a sublime router plane.

His great skill with metals (and woods) is rare - the router plane needs close inspection to appreciate all the details. Everywhere you look the care and precision is absolutely first-class.

The router plane is special because it starts with sound engineering - the cutter mounting is all very tight tolerance so the cutter is rock-solid in the tool but adjustment is smooth and precise (not something that can be said of the old ones). He uses a Veritas cutter and I know their steels are very good. It's also useful to be able to get different widths later.
An example of the precision is the almost total absence of backlash in the depth adjuster, maybe an eighth-turn (you need a small amount to avoid undue wear).

Richard's infill with his 'signature' front bun. The Norris and Spiers alongside.

Richard's infill with his 'signature' front bun. The Norris and Spiers alongside.

Richard recently made a dovetailed infill plane - no small undertaking. I had the opportunity of trying it and it is certainly one of the best smoothers I have ever used (tested against an old Norris A5 and a dovetailed Spiers).

We are now working together on another project - to be fair Richard's doing most of the work at the moment. But the outcome will transform my Moxon vices... more news later.

 

And by the way, that front bun. I prefer it to the Norris and Spiers for the simple reasons that it fits the hand far better, and it allows you to lift slightly at the end of the cut (if you want to). I like old tools but I also like improvements.