The front round bit

In plane terminology, the word “handle” gets thrown around a lot.  But if you look in the record, you’ll see that usually the word “tote” gets used for rear handle and “knob” gets used for the front one.  I suspect the distinction was lost when hand tools were largely superseded by power tools, and the number of cabinetmakers and joiners was slashed by industrial processes in furniture making.  If you weren’t part of the trade, then you very well might call them handles (better than a “controller”, I suppose).  To me, it seems a little Orwellian, right up there with “doubleplus ungood”.  Why have two words when one (and an accompanying modifier) will do?  Because that’s the way it should be done.  The constriction of language is a terrible thing, which largely goes unnoticed in a flurry of “txtspeak” acronyms and “emojis”.  Though we snigger into our sleeves at the frequently fluid spelling conventions of our ancestors, I dare say they would probably consider most of us to possess a tragically constrained vocabulary.  Strike back against those who would curtail your loquacity!  Enough is not fufficient!

Yes, well, hmm…where was I?

Oh yes!  I was ruminating on the knob that I needed to make for the jointer plane that is very nearly done.  As with the tote, you should go ahead and bore (and counterbore) for your threaded rod before you shape the knob.  Then, I go ahead and size various points on the workpiece.  It is always interesting to me that even though at this stage it looks nothing like a comfortably rounded spot for your hand to rest, all of the dimensions have been worked into the wood.


A minor note on the knobs used on Stanley planes.  On earlier planes, the main casting is flat where the knob is attached, and the bottom of the knob is also flat.  However, in later models, to alleviate the chipping that sometimes occurred, a raised ring was added to the casting and a corresponding bevel was cut into the knob.  Be sure of which you will need before you start the lathe or buy a new knob from eBay.

When that is done (I sometimes refer to it as “connecting the dots”), and our new knob sanded to 400 grit, then it and the tote get a couple of coats of oil, and are attached to the main casting.  With a little oil wiped on from time to time, a yearly (or so) truing of the sole, and sharpening as needed, this plane should now last another century or so with no problems.