Around the end of the Victorian
era and into the 20th century, many plane makers offered bare
castings made of steel, brass or bronze which enabled the
thrifty craftsman to build their own planes by adding an iron,
infills and a wedge.
Over the years I have found a half dozen of these castings
which, for some reason or other, were never finished. I think
that they were probably all seconds as most have casting faults,
pits and voids which would make them “seconds”.
If you accept this, these defects make no difference to the
actual performance of the final plane and can be a cheap way of
getting a good infill for little money.
Most come up for sale on auction sites such as eBay….and this
little bronze chariot casting was no exception. I managed to
pick this up for a mere £20, which is not far short of scrap
The casting had been “finished” to some extent, which is
unusual. The sole had been milled and the sides milled and also
squared up with the sole. As with all castings, the insides are
left raw. This can prove to be the biggest problem with plane
I needed to get a suitable iron. Here I was especially lucky as
a good friend saw one on eBay, exactly the right size 1 ¾” and
nicer still, made by one of my most favorite old Sheffield
makers: Isaac Greaves.
It really is unusual these days to get a new old stock iron and
even more pleasing to get one with a slight concavity to the
face… which means that flattening near the edge was a breeze as
can be seen.
A wire edge was created on the bevel ground at 25 degrees with a
30 degree secondary and once broken off created a razor sharp
iron which can be seen tested on this end grain boxwood.