Making a Coffin Smoother Plane | Upcycling a generic woodworking hand plane

  • Published on Mar 12, 2018
  • In this video, I take a cheap, generic hand plane I bought for a few cents at a local second-hand sale, and by re-using the iron and chip breaker, I am able to create a coffin-style plane out of a block of cherry I had laying around.
    Rather than mortising out a single, large block of wood, I laminated two thinner pieces together from a longer piece. This facilitated the build process in a number of ways, but it also added other slight complications.
    Please note that I am not an expert of planes, particularly wooden body planes. I really enjoy hand-tool woodworking and sharing my experiences, however. So, my hope is that if you want to build a traditional style coffin plane smoother (as opposed to the kind with a bar running through the body to resist the wedge), then this video can give you some ideas.
    Some considerations and observations:
    1. I recommend a harder wood than what I used, or laminating a harder sole onto it. I used cherry, and it works fine. I don't, however, expect it to last too too long against really difficult woods.
    2. I made sure to orient the grain so as, when planing forward, you are essentially "going with" the grain.
    3. Start by making the plane oversize in terms of length. Then, clamp both pieces together and drill through them in 3-4 places in areas that will become waste. Then, insert dowels or screws. You can use these as locator pins so you can consistently and quickly put the halves together, especially when gluing.
    4. Before cutting the abutment, make a wedge template like David W does when he makes planes. Use that template to create your wedge area/abutment. Check out this really detailed series here:
    5. I left some room for the front of the mouth, but I shouldn't have. The result was a HUGE opening of the mouth. Make it almost nothing and create a small "wear" angle as discussed by Rex Kreuger in his video here, around minute 11:
    Note, however, that the wear angle can interfere with shaving escapement. He says he had to remove the wear almost in its entirety. I'd say, leave a slight wear angle so you can open up the mouth just enough. Now, the reason I didn't is simply because of 1) inexperience and 2) I had already finished making my own plane when Rex's video came out. That video helped me understand the geometry of the mouth a lot better. In fact, while I was researching how to make a coffin plane, I was looking specifically for information on that secondary angle, and obviously I didn't look hard enough.
    6. After making the abutments, you need to taper them toward the front of the plane to allow the shavings to escape. Be careful, though, as you do not want to weaken that area where the wedge is secured in place (the abutment).
    7. You can make your plane whatever shape you want, but the traditional coffin style is very much like an oval. It isn't that rectangular at all. FYI.
    Some more suggestions for channels to watch about plane making:
    Young Je:
    This guy is awesome. You won't regret it.
    This guy does a laminated style plane, and it is very well done!
    I hope this has been a helpful and enjoyable build for you! Please do leave your comments to help others in the future!
    If you have time, please visit my other social links and whatnot:
    Instagram: thehandtoolery
    Facebook: TheHandToolery
    My Etsy Shop:

    All the best,
  • Howto & StyleHowto & Style

Comments • 34

  • James Harris
    James Harris 10 months ago


  • Jeremey Weeks
    Jeremey Weeks 10 months ago +1

    This is the first video of yours that I've watched--haven't even finished it. I love your jig or whatever that you use with your plane! Going to steal that idea--I have a 606 plane that is so big for a lot of pieces but it would work well with your solution. Thanks!

    • The HandToolery
      The HandToolery  10 months ago

      Hey! Thanks! If mean around 3:00 it’s called a shooting board, and they are real game changers if you use hand planes at all! You can dial in the exact size of a piece within maybe a thou!

    BARTLEY WESLEY Year ago +1

    Very nice! I've been thinking of doing something similar with parts from an old Craftsman smoother. I noticed your router plane, too -- is that shopmade as well?

    • The HandToolery
      The HandToolery  Year ago

      Do it!! It’s a great experience and was a pleasure to use. Also, yeah the router plane is shop made. Out of the same original block of cherry as the plane no less!!

  • luiz claudio costa de carvalho carvalho

    pure talent, congratulations, I'll continue to accompany you in Brazil

  • Brads Workbench
    Brads Workbench Year ago +1

    Did u say that was rusty? Or were u talking about before u cleaned it?

  • Rocket Creations
    Rocket Creations Year ago +1

    The original handplane was a Stanley Defiance series. Only really identifiable by the stained handles and iron/body with "made in USA" markings. I have one and its a nice little smoother with sentimental value.

    • The HandToolery
      The HandToolery  Year ago

      Sweet! I looked up some other defiance planes and they look very similar! Thanks for solving this mystery!

  • James Lucas
    James Lucas Year ago +1

    Pretty good job. Now consider the difficulty in chopping this out without it in two halves.
    Do not ever suggest a word to David W however. His camera work is 6 ft to the side. His suggestion is to listen don’t watch.
    I think your design is great. I like it far more than the Krenov. The planes open mouth allows it to be a good smoother or an even better scrub by changing the blade.
    Good luck. You seem to be doing fine.
    One question, is that a real Apron or a Sears Apron?

    • The HandToolery
      The HandToolery  Year ago

      David W has a ton of knowledge for sure! I really prefer a traditional design, too. But yes, he puts in a lot more work! My apron is actually a chefs apron I got from Amazon. I really like it!

  • steersman1812
    steersman1812 Year ago +1

    You're a fine woodworker anfd can be proud of that plane it will serve you well.The best plane i have in my collection is my wooden Emir brand coffin smoother . Does a real good job not only because it's wood but has a really thick blade too.

    • The HandToolery
      The HandToolery  Year ago +1

      Thanks for the kinds words! I’ve not used wooden planes much, but this video/build taught me a lot about why people swear by them. The experience is quite different from metal body planes in a good way. Also, I think Having a thick iron would only add to that experience. Thanks again for stopping by! Cheers!

  • nllaeder
    nllaeder Year ago

    Alfie Shine, homie.

    • nllaeder
      nllaeder Year ago

      The HandToolery if you haven’t yet, there is a Facebook Group called Unplugged Woodworkers. Check t out. All will become clear.

    • nllaeder
      nllaeder Year ago

      The HandToolery it’s made of a unique formulation of resins, waxes, and unicorn tears. It has the distinct advantage of curing both prostate cancer and male pattern baldness. It makes you invisible to robots and irresistible to redheads with green eyes. Plus, it makes your tools shine and smell great.

    WOODY W Year ago

    Very nice....You are talented, & most of all a Gentleman....Thank You for this video

  • Jimi Timbers
    Jimi Timbers Year ago

    Love it! Great job!! 😁🌲

  • Dave Turnbull
    Dave Turnbull Year ago +1

    I've got somewhere in the region of 20 coffin smoothers that came from car boot sales (about £1 each). Most of the bodies are in a terrible state (splits etc) but the blades are ok. I think I'll have to get some non-pine wood and have a go at one of these since you made it look so good.

  • The Every Maker - Nick

    I've been seeing more and more people making their own planes. I think I'm going to have to cannibalize one of my junk planes and make one too. Yours came out extremely nice!

  • Momir Zecevic
    Momir Zecevic Year ago

    Congratulations on your first one. It wont be last, trust me. They are pure joy to use and to make.

  • Mikhandmaker
    Mikhandmaker Year ago

    Nice build man! It works very well

  • Mike Bennett
    Mike Bennett Year ago

    Nice job. If you get a thicker Hock blade, you can get rid of the chip breaker and move the blade edge closer to the front of the throat at the same time. It should give you better cross/end grain performance.

  • Oficina de Apto
    Oficina de Apto Year ago

    Parabéns, continuo acompanhando seus vídeos seguindo de um Like.

  • rosangela lima
    rosangela lima Year ago +1

    Eu não sei o que essa caixa representa mais ela ficou muito bonitinha , fique com Deus

  • Juliano Matsumoto

    Nice! There are no limits!

  • Elizabete Grim
    Elizabete Grim Year ago


  • The Wood Yogi
    The Wood Yogi Year ago

    Great video :) So much fun Andrew :) I've also considered making a coffin smoother for a few years and this was really helpful. woodkiefer1 recently gave a glimpse of his wooden plane that has an adjustable mouth. Something that could be a great addition ॐ

  • Daniel Attencio
    Daniel Attencio Year ago

    That was a collector plane worth probably $10,000 or more.............Just kidding. Nice project, keep up the good work.

  • ared18t
    ared18t Year ago

    Use a little metal hammer for adjusting the plane iron's depth I'd say one that is cute in size the smaller Mass should make it easier to adjust

  • Mark Gray
    Mark Gray Year ago

    beautiful job!

  • Wood By Wright
    Wood By Wright Year ago +10