Blum ‘Infill’ Planes




I’m very happy to introduce the Blum Tool Co version of an infill plane. From the time I first developed my planes, I have had in mind that they would be a great candidate to make as infills. That is basically how I make the wooden versions. The sole and sides are joined, and then the center ‘infill’ is added. The only real difference now is that I am using an O-1,  1/4″ tool steel sole, and 3/16″ brass sides.

I am using mesquite for the infill. Not a traditional infill wood, but then mine is not a traditional infill plane. Mesquite seems like a perfect wood to use on the infill. You want a wood that has very low shrinkage and swelling. Mesquite nearly tops the chart in that category compared to any other wood in the world. It also has a very low shrinkage differential between the radial and tangential dimensions. I also think it is a beautiful wood and contrasts really nicely with the brass.

This combination makes one heck of a smoothing plane. If you like some extra mass, then this plane is for you. Here are the vital statistics: 10″ long, 2  1/4″ A-2 steel blade, 5 lbs, 2 oz. It has the same options as all the other Blum planes. Namely, 42° or 47° cut angles, straight frog or cambered frog, and a scraper frog can be substituted. It also comes with its own sharpening jig.

I plan on making more versions of my infills as time goes on. This smoother will be available with steel sides in the near future. The next size to make will be the 5 1/2.

When this plane is set up with a cambered frog, you can smooth boards with no plane tracks. You can set the chipbreak gap without moving any settings or removing any parts. You can sharpen the blade quickly using the supplied jig and never have to grind the blade. You can adjust the setting to a hairsbreath in just seconds. And you will have the mass to power through any board. It’s a heck of a plane.

Not another holdfast!

Well, no. Let’s call it an ‘ Adjustable Bench Hold-down’.

My version is based on a design from the turn of the 19th century. The slide arm is adjustable 6″, so it will clamp anywhere from 9″ to 15″ from the shaft. It uses a 3/4″ diameter hole in the bench top. The clamping pad is 2″ round hard maple.

As you can see, the hole needn’t be exactly 3/4″. It will work in square dog holes or holes 1″ and above. The whole device is very ruggedly built of steel and hard maple. No need to lay out your work on the bench top so it is’within reach ‘ of your holdfast. You have 6″ of adjustability here. No need to grab that hammer (or sledge) to set it.  The 5/8″ screw loosens and tightens very smoothly and can give just the right amount of pressure. No need to always have a back up pad to keep from marring your stock. Our pad is end grain hard maple.

Some other features I have noticed since working with it for the last few months is that it doesn’t tend to egg the hole in the bench top out as much as a holdfast which must be driven down and cocked every time it is set. It also holds well in benches as thin as 1 1/2″ . I tried it in a beam I had that was 5″ thick, so I don’t know what the upper limits might be.  With the arm extended out, I don;’t think it matters how thick the bench is.


New handles leads to ‘tool sleuthing’

Earlier this spring I decided to change the handles and knobs on my planes to a more traditional look. I have many old tools to model, so I picked some I thought were the most comfortable and took them home one evening. I had them all laid out on the kitchen table and was making tracings and patterns. On a plow plane by H. Wells, I noticed that the owners stamps on the front both had the same last name. I mentioned this and the names to my wife, who was in the other room on the computer. I wondered out loud whether the two were related.

About 15 minutes later, my wife said ” I found one of the guys”. The two names were R.O. Stetson and G.W. Stetson, Jr. I was assuming they were probably father and son. But who were they?  R.O. Stetson came up on a page of the history of the Millers Falls Co.  Millers Falls acquired the Goodell Pratt Co.  Goodell Pratt acquired the Stratton Bros. Level company in 1912.  R.O. Stetson had purchased the Stratton Bros. Level Co from his 83 year old father-in-law Edwin Stratton in 1902.  Edwin started the company with his brother Charles in 1869. Now if you are a tool collector, you surely are familiar with Stratton Bros levels. They were high end tools made of exotic woods like rosewood and had a unique brass edging on all sides and even the level sight cutouts were trimmed in brass.  One of the sources I found discussing them said that the brass edging pieces were so precise, it took 1000 pounds of pressure to press them in place.

This was starting to get interesting.  If father and son,  G.W. must be the father,  since he was the Junior.  The Millers Falls history page listed R.O. Stetson as Roland Stetson.  I later found this to be incorrect, and that his name was really Raymond O. Stetson.  This was a major error that cause me a lot of dead end searching!

I next went to the Massachusetts archives and typed in the names and towns. Well. there were dozens of G.W. Stetsons and of course not one Roland Stetson.  I finally got lucky when I somehow got on the Family Search website.  Having never done any genealogy research before, I was amazed to see what was available. They had the original documents from census rolls, death certificates, birth certificates, marriage certificates, even photos of graves and cemetery locations.  It took a lot of searching, but I finally got it figured out (I think).

G.W. Stetson, Jr. was born in 1831.  His father was George W. Stetson (of course).  He was born in 1805.  George’s wife was Mary Wilde Stetson, born in 1800.  She and George were married Sept. 8, 1831.  George Jr. was born Dec. 4, 1831!  You do the math.  His mother, Mary, died on Dec. 20th, 1831. I assume it was from complications from childbirth. George Stetson Jr. was listed as a carpenter/joiner in the census roll of 1860.  He married his wife Emiline on Dec. 30, 1857.  Their child Raymond was born in 1865. He married his wife Edith Stratton in 1901, one year before buying the Stratton Bros. Level Co. from his father-in-law Edwin Stratton.

I couldn’t have picked a more interesting family to research. The Stetsons are an amazing family. George Jr. is the 7th generation descendant of Cornet Robert Stetson, who was born in England and came to this country in the early  1630’s . He had 7 sons and 2 daughters. The family still owns the original homestead in Massachusetts. Actually there is a corporation called the Stetson Kindred that owns it. They have done a phenomenal amount of family research and publishing. The Stetsons were a very influential family in American development. There is still Stetson University and the Stetson mansion in Florida. Didn’t one of them make hats?

I’ve often wondered about the owners of the various antique tools that have the their names stamped on them.  It was fun to actually learn  about  two of them and to find out one of them was the owner of a famous tool company. His father was a carpenter/joiner and they were both descendants of one of the first families going back to the Plymouth Colony.  I think I’ll contact the Stetson Kindred to see if any of them would be interested in their forefather’s plow plane.


Welcome to my Blum Tools blog. I started this business in  May of 2007, so this  is the 10 year anniversary. I knew I had been putting off doing this blog, but man, 10 years sure went by fast.

I want to use  this space to inform people of all the happenings going on with Blum Tool Co, such as new products, products in development, usage, etc. However, I also envision it  being a place where you might hear a little story about some of the daily successes and travails of running a small business.  I have been a furniture- cabinetmaker now full time for 30 years, so while I don’t claim to know it all by any  stretch, I do have quite a bit of experience.  Woodworking that is. Writing and social media, not so much.

I love talking tools and woodworking, so maybe we can both learn a little something along the way. My thoughts and processes are usually not aligned with the ‘mainstream’, so be ready to hear a different perspective. Just look at my tools .