Beech Billets for Plane Making


Billets are again in stock.

In the past, the preferred wood for making wood bodied planes has been American Beech. (Fagus grandifolia)  Beech has the qualities sought after for plane making, with the right combination of hardness, a tight grain, good wear characteristics,  and the ability to quickly acclimate to its environment.  Old Street Tool has a good article that goes into depth about beech as a plane making wood here.

The big challenge is finding beech in any form, let alone quarter sawn thick stock.  I have had the good fortune to find a sawmill willing to cut and dry beech to my specifications.  I expect this sawmill to be a regular supplier for me, and because I am buying large quantities at a time, it seemed appropriate to offer billets to plane makers who want just enough to make their own planes.  these are available now in the store.

Bench plane billets have been sized for common Try, Jack, and Smoother planes. This wood has been dried in a vacuum kiln, and has a moisture content of 6-8%.  All stock is rough sawn, and dimensions given are rough sizes.  Some blanks may be bigger than the stated size, as I tried to measure the smallest ones. The Try and Jacks include wood for both a tote, and a wedge, both quarter sawn.  The totes are approximately 5 3/8″ (quarter sawn direction) x 6″ x 1 1/4″ thick.  Wedge stock is about 2 3/4 plus” wide for the larger planes and 2 1/8″ for the smoothers. (Quarter sawn direction) x 3/4″ x 8″, leaving enough to hold onto while shaping.  The quartered grain on the billets and wedges is within 15 degrees or better of true quarter sawn.  The handles may vary more than that, but quartered grain here is not as critical. The billets and wedges are primarily sapwoood, but may contain some heart wood at the top.  Wedges and totes also are mostly sap wood.

Moulding plane billets are cut to make side escapement planes, and also include wedge stock.  These measure 11″ x 3 1/2+” in size, and currently come in five widths:  3/4″,  1″,  1 1/4″,  1 1/2″,  1 3/4″.  These are oversize, and will finish at the advertised thicknesses.  These billets are not all perfectly quarter sawn, with some having grain approaching rift sawn. (See photo below of the end of the billets.) This is an issue I am addressing with my sawyer for future cutting to obtain more quartered grain.  However, an examination of antique planes will show it was quite common for planes to be less than quartered grain. These contain both sap wood and heart wood.  They may also contain some spalting, but the wood is sound, and the sole of the plane will be spalt free.

All pieces are guaranteed to be sound wood, free of knots, checks, splits or worm holes.

Please note:  Because of the size and weight of these billets, shipping costs are fairly high.  We do not mark up shipping costs, and these rates reflect what we pay for labels.  Thank you for your understanding.


VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Bench Plane Billets

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Moulding Plane Billets

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Large Moulding Plane Billets

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Various sizes of billets available. Rough cut length is shown.

2 Responses to Beech Billets for Plane Making

  1. David says:

    Red Rose,
    How much for a billet to make a jointer? Say, 22″ to 24″ w/enough for a tote and wedge?
    Thanks, David

    • Hi Dave,
      The try plane billet is 23″ long, has stock for a wedge and tote, and sells for $49. Unfortunately, these are out of stock while my sawyer looks for another beech log to cut. I will restock ass soon as I can.

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