The Strike Block

Recently, one of the first planes I ever bought, a very nice Stanley #65 low angle block plane, had to be retired. The adjustment screw threads in the casting stripped, leaving the adjustment mechanism unable to function. For awhile, I adjusted it like I do wooden bench planes, however, this was a good opportunity for a proper replacement.

strike_block01

When I saw this plane online, I took a chance on it without actually seeing it in person. From the pictures I saw online, it appeared to have a lower bed angle than a typical bench plane. In addition, there is no tote, and no mortise where a tote would go. I was guessing, but I thought it was a strike block. Well, when the plane arrived earlier this week, I was thrilled that my guess was correct. What I had bought was the precursor to the modern block plane.

In the 18th century, this type of plane was referred to as a strike block. Later in the early 19th century it was referred to as a straight block, presumably, because the plane had no tote like other bench planes of the period. Later in the 19th century, these planes became known as miter planes, as their primary function was to trim the end grain of miter joints. Today, metal versions of these planes are much more common than this early 19th century wooden version. Stanley later made a version they numbered #9 and called a coachmaker’s block plane.

My strike block is pictured here with my stripped out #65 and a #5 jack plane to give you an idea of it’s relative size. My version is about 10″ long, though 18th century versions were usually closer to 12″. Unlike a modern block plane, this plane is bedded with the iron bevel down like a typical bench plane. This identifies it as likely being an American made plane (which it is). English versions were typically bedded with the iron bevel up but at a lower bed angle like today’s low angle block planes.

strike_block02

The effective cutting angle on both types of planes is the same, however. A typical low angle, bevel up block plane is bedded at around 12 degrees. With the addition of a 25 degree bevel on the plane iron, the effective cutting angle is around 37 degrees. My plane, typical of American made planes, is bedded bevel down at an angle of 35 degrees.

Today I cleaned it up, honed the iron and tried it out on some pine end grain. The finish left behind was super smooth and polished. The plane cut just as well as a bevel up low angle block plane. I am extremely happy with this replacement. Anyone want a low angle #65 with a stripped casting?

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3 thoughts on “The Strike Block

  1. Bob,

    Nice Straight Block Plane. Nicholson refers to this plane as a short joiners plane and Moxon describes its use for miters. I think the low angle would work well on end grain. It looks like the iron clad one in Mercer’s Book, then he shows the Moxon plate with the hand writing noting that plane as a ‘strike block’.

    Nice plane, better center of gravity than metallics and warmer to the touch in the winter months.

    Stephen

    • Thanks Stephen,
      I like it very much. I consider it a lucky find as I don’t see these too often. It does work very well on end grain, which is the main use I got it for, though I think it will work well for jointing the edges of small thin pieces as well, such as parts for small drawers.

      While I don’t need to worry about working with metal planes in the cold like you do, I am slowly replacing all my metal planes with wooden versions. I just like them a lot more. However, I’m now finding that I need to shorten my workbench, I’d say by at least 3-4 inches.

      Bob

  2. I had enough of a difficult time finding these (and needed a shooting plane that didn’t hurt my hand, like the LV LA jacks do) that I ended up making one as my first plane making project. They’re really quite convenient in many ways.

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