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Tool Talk with Bill Rittner

  Make a Tote by Bill Rittner 1 of 6  

If you have a bench plane with a tote that looks like the one pictured below, or have passed up a good deal on a plane because of a broken tote then please read on.


This article may be the answer to your tote problems.

I have been making replacement knobs and totes for planes for number of years and through this article hope to pass on some of the knowledge I have gained over that time. Making a new tote is not too difficult for the average woodworker, but explaining the entire process is rather complicated. So I have chosen to break this article up into several parts to make it easier to digest.

Part 1 - Making a Tamplate

The first step is to determine the angle of the tote that you wish to make. This angle is the angle that the centerline of the through stud hole forms with the base of the tote. For Stanley #3 and #4 this angle is 26° and on Stanley #4 ˝ thru #8 the angle is 27°. And yes 1° does make a difference. To determine the tote angle for other planes use a protractor to draw several angles close to what you estimate your tote angle to be on an 8 ˝ x 11 sheet of white paper. With the tote removed from your plane loosely screw the tote stud into the plane base.

The actual angle of this stud is 27°.
This method will get you close to the actual angle.

You will find that the stud will move up and down quite a bit. Now setup the paper with the angles on it directly behind the plane and sight the stud to one of the angles on the paper. As seen in the pictures above. Draw more angles on the paper until you zero in on the angle of the tote stud with the stud in the lowest position it will go to. Next do the same thing to determine the angle of the tote stud when held in it’s most upward position. It is unlikely the plane manufacturer would use a fraction of an angle so the actual tote angle would be whatever whole degree comes between the angle the tote stud forms in the uppermost position and the lowermost position. Believe me it is a lot more complicated to describe this process than to do it.

A drawing like this using your tote angle will aid in designing your tote shape.

This angle is very important. If it isn’t correct your new tote won’t fit. I suggest that you make a rough tote to the angle you just determined and check the fit on your plane. Drill the stud hole oversize to allow plenty of clearance. I use 5/16” for stud holes on Stanley planes. If your trial tote doesn’t fit right you can plug the hole and try a new angle. Do this until you get a good fit.

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Plow Planes

Moulding Planes


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