Trade Secrets: Flattening planes

Yann-Poulain

A sadly necessary task for all luthiers, which should have been taken care of by the manufacturer in the first place

Planes are must-have tools in the violin maker’s arsenal, but I have never encountered one that’s ready to be used as soon as it’s been bought. Violin making is a series of tasks that require fine, precise craftsmanship, and planes, whether new or old, are never flat enough for our purposes. The sole of an old plane becomes ‘twisted’ over the years, meaning that the left corner of the tip and the right corner of the tail will be in contact with the piece (or vice versa). So it is almost impossible to make a perfect joint with such a plane.

New planes, even those made with the finest craftsmanship, are generally ‘hollowed’, i.e. only the tip and tail area of the sole touch the wood. To compensate, more pressure on the blade or more blade has to be used, which leaves no chance for ultra thin shavings.

Read more in The Strad’s December 2019 issue…

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