Last week I wrapped up the revised panel plane prototype just in time to bring it with me to the Northeast Woodworking Association’s 20th Annual Fine Woodworking Show in Saratoga Springs. The show itself, by the way, was a real treat — great presenters (including Peter Follansbee and Chris Schwarz) and a wealth of great furniture to take in.

I made a number of adjustments to the earlier prototype design discussed previously, though the only really substantial change was in the profile of the sidewalls at the bed and throat opening. Other alterations were essentially all a matter of degree and size of elements – a subtle radius change here, a sixteenth of an inch there… It’s an endless fascination to me just how profound an effect such small changes can have on the overall ‘feel’ of a design. The images below make for a convenient comparison (though it would be even better if they used the same type of infill timber.) First is the initial prototype again, and the revised plane, each in profile.

Other than the (by now) obvious center section profile, the front bun height was increased by about 3/16″; the rear tote horn was shortened and thinned out to reduce its impact, and the entire tote was raised about 1/8″ to provide a small reveal between tote and the foundation… Other than a few subtle refinements to the long curves, that’s essentially the total list of alterations.

Much as I like makin’ me some stuff, for me the greatest reward comes from bringing a new design to fruition. When design and execution come together well, it’s a form of magic that only man, out of all the creatures in the world, can accomplish or appreciate — and if that ain’t at least as cool as opposable thumbs, then I don’t know what is.