Curved sole block plane

I am going to order a low-angle block plane for my miscellaneous projects, and I was thinking of modifying my standard-angle block plane thusly:

For paddle mods and making I need a way to shave concave surfaces from the wood. I am sure that a curved sole plane would be a bit pricey, so I was considering gently shaping the iron from my current block plane into an arc. The result will not be as elegant as a dedicated curved-sole plane. Has anyone else tried this?



No, a Travisher!


(but the scorp gave me a starting place for a search g2d!)

Better yet,41182

Still seems pricey for a hunk of wood, a wedge, and a blade.


Curved Sole Plane
Curving the blade without curving the sole of the plane to match probably won’t work very well. You might have better luck with a spokeshave.

A better solution which I use often in the shop here at Dogpaddle Canoe Works is a curved cabinet scraper. You can grind whatever radius curve you want and they are inexpensive. Take the time to learn the proper sharpening techniques. Cabinet scrapers work wonderfully when properly sharpened.


Ahah, Dog Paddle!
Marc, your name has been mentioned here with reverence regarding custom paddles.

Yeah, I was leery of that too. I was thinking about epoxying a thin piece of wood to the sole and contouring it to match the blade’s new convex shape.

I have been using the curved blade from a cabinet scraper mounted to a curved block in the interim. Works reasonably well, but I plan on laminating a paddle blank this winter and wanted a more sophisticated tool.


try ebay
i’ve purchased various tools on ebay for a lot less than new and better quality too. my guess is that modifying your plane would make it even harder to sharpen and sharp is the name of the game. also, ditto on the rec for a spoke shave.

Like this one…

Smaller scorp
Most are for chair seat pan carving and have big radii. If you want smaller/tighter this one handed version is sort of like a big pull gouge.

I also got a couple Frost double edged crooked knives (162/163) on eBay waiting to be tried out…

Scraper worked great to finish hollowing out on either side of the spine on my Aleut paddle (roughed it out with a large gouge) - and to even out the hollowed area on the back of another paddle with more spooned out blades (roughed out with single handed scorp).

curved sole plane
Hi Jim,

Nick Schade’s strip kayak building book shows a standard block plane with the sole slightly ground side to side (then blade ground to fit). He suggests using this modified plane to help smooth the insides of strip kayaks before glassing.

I have a cheap stanley block plane with an extra thick sole that I’m going to try this on, just haven’t got around to doing it yet.

Make a woodne one?
Concave planes are failry common in wooden boatbuilding, used to hollow out the back side of carvel planking. It is pretty easy to make one from a small block of hardwood if you are handy with a band saw and a chisel, and you can buy very nice blades from any of the highend wood working shops. I have made some very nice ones from maple.

There is a plane that has an adjustable curve (I think it is called a banjo plane) which I have seen in some old-timers tool kits, but have never tried one personally.

The scraper idea is a good one, just a bit slower if you wnat to remove lots of wood. As for the spoke shave, my flat soled one is a workhorse, but my curved sole one has never worked wel for me. May be operator error!

Try as I might
to forsee all the difficulties in a project, I had not considered the difficulty of sharpening the curved blade. Doh! A visit to the Lee Valley site and a read of the methods for sharpening the curved sole plane (a sweet looking tool, BTW) has convinced me that the scraper remains the way to go. I might modify a rectangular cabinet scraper and make a clamp/handle for it.

Sometimes being a Mad Scientist is humbling.


Not operator error!
Same with me and spokeshaves - The curved sole one I have (a Stanley) seems to chatter and catch more. I hardly ever use it.


Kunz Radius Spokeshave
Here is what I’ve used for the concaves on an Aleut paddle and on the blade roots for Greenland paddles:

The tool is well made, but badly finished (does that make any sense?). I worked the sole with emery cloth, and the polished result works without chattering. At $20, it’s a relatively cheap was to go…

Cheers, Alan

You are far more skilled (or patient)…
… than I!

That’s what I first bought to do the job - and found about useless (love my other spokeshaves!) - and moved on to the other tools I mentioned.

Cabinet Scraper
You can adjust the agressivness of the cut on a cabinet scraper by varying the size and angle of the hook, when you sharpen it. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit on some scrap material. If you don’t like the results, square off the edge and try again.

For curves, try a flexible blade. A good source of steel for a flexible blade is an old handsaw.


You were
probably trying to take to deep a cut.

I did work pretty hard at polishing that tool, and set it for a very fine cut - then it worked quite nicely.

Squirrel Tail palm plane
Lee Valley sells a curved palm plane for $42.00 It is Canadian so it must be good.