Holtey Classic Hand Planes

Where precision toolmaking becomes art
Holtey No.98 Smoother

He who works with his hands is a labourer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.

- Francis of Assisi.

Final No.983 Block planes

I have completed work on the Spiers Shoulder planes and have now started on my last batch of No.983 Block Planes.

The decision to make a final run of block planes is partly a result of interest from customers who missed out on my first No.983 planes. However it is mostly because the No.983 of all my 98 series designs is the most pleasing from both an engineering and aesthetic standpoint. My own testing, feedback from owners and reviews confirm that the No.983 is indeed a joy to own and use.

Please contact me to discuss price, availability and to make your reservation.

No.983 Block plane

This is my stainless steel block plane - which has been a long time in its conception. I arrived at this design having studied and compared as many block plane designs as I could find, both old and new.
The qualities I was looking for were: simplicity, elegance and above all ease of use. One of the planes I looked at had an overall height of 2 1/2" and was noticeably more comfortable to the hand, giving a positive drive for the plane without having to pinch the sides too hard. This height is just right and truly feels comfortable and positive in use.
You will notice how the blade chamfer, the profile of the sides and the rear cutaway of the lever cap combine to allow easy access to the clamping wheel, whilst removing any possibility of contact with sharp edges. The open access to the clamping wheel makes blade adjustment or removal of lever cap, blade and adjuster so easy. I feel that the curves of the side panels flow nicely to give this plane a pleasing retro styling.

No.983 Blade, adjuster and Lever Cap removed.

Bridge and lever cap

The lever cap has a recess cut (see photograph above) which engages with the bridge, thus providing further stability without any movement in the palm rest. I choose to use a low finger rest as I believe that this provides a much better feedback in use.

No.983 with components.

The circular cross section bridge has become a distinctive feature of my planes of late. It is fixed in place using integral riviting - the same technique used to join the sides to the sole which gives superior strength and ridgidity compared to more traditional fixing methods.

No.983 view of lever cap. No983 Group.


The adjuster recess is milled along with the blade bed - both surfaces are in true station, I decided not to fix the adjuster as it only needs to be positioned. The adjuster will support the rear end of the blade in line with the frog which makes up the blade bed. The adjuster is allowed to rotate and position the blade, this system was also used on the No.98 (excluding the retaining screw).

With this plane I have returned to integral riveting as first used on the N0.98 (also fabricated from stainless). The rivets have a small leading chamfer which also helps to prevent splitting when it comes to peining.

Making the A13

Many people who read my blog and visit my instagram and facebook pages enjoy the workshop pictures I post there showing my work in progress.

Some time ago we collected pictures of my last A13 build and published them together under the heading 'Making the A13'.

Although this was never intended to be an exhaustive documentry of a plane build, it does go some way to illustrate the variety of processes and number of hours which I put into making a plane.

I also tried to show some of the unseen work which goes into my builds, such as the custom tooling, work holding jigs, setting up for milling or lathe work and of course all the handwork such as filing and sanding.

This article has now been made into a PDF document which you can view on the planes / in depth / making the A13 page.

It is best viewed on larger screens as it is A4 page size and runs to 50 pages in total.