record compass plane

The compass plane and why you need one!

The compass plane and why you need one!

If your workpiece has a vigorous curve you will require a specialised tool.  For instance, a table project that has Cabriole legs! then I recommend using a compass plane for playing the curvy bits. 

4 tools used for planing curves

  1. Compass Plane
  2. Wooden Compass plane
  3. Spoke Shave
  4. Draw Knife

The compass plane is what we are interested in 

I could go into detail regarding the three other options but today I wish to talk about my compass plane. 

Buying a compass plane

A used compass plane often comes up for sale on eBay. My compass plane is a record 0 20 C. The record is a very solid and fairly comfortable tool to use. The Stanley 113 is also a very good tool. If you want to buy a new compass plane there are are only a few options. Kunz makes a compass plane today day, although not as good as the record it is still a useful tool.

record compass plane

You can buy a used Compass plane

Any used tool is likely to require a little bit of work to make it perform perfectly.

I was very lucky to inherit a Record Compass plane, although some may say unlucky! This inheritance from my father was very much appreciated. 

The search for a Compass plane

These Compass planes are becoming hard to find and you should grab any opportunity to acquire one.

You have limited options to plane concave or convex wood. Although there are few new tools for sale online great old tools such as record or Stanley are becoming gold dust.

Compass planes 

The good old compass plane has been the staple of any curvy planning task! I have used them for years. I can appreciate their usefulness for a multitude of woodworking tasks. 

What would I use a compass plane for?

Compass planes are great for planning tasks such as handrails. Furniture makers would find the compass pain extremely useful for those curvy pieces. For instance cabriole legs. I find the compass plane particularly useful within the boatbuilding industry. The shaping of boat gunnels or even a hog can make a compass plane shine.

Sharpening your compass plane

like any hand plane, you will need to master the art of sharpening your plane irons. You can treat the compass plane the same as your smoothing plane.

Compass plane iron grind angle

As a rule of thumb, I like to grind my compass plane iron at 25 degrees. I would then finally hone the cutting edge to 30 degrees.

Looking after your compass plane

The compass plane is a very useful tool when you need it. The compass plane radius plane did spend a lot of its life just sitting on the shelf waiting for that special project. Like any iron tool, it is a good idea ear to protect it from corrosion. 

A damp environment will corrode any tool!

You might have a workshop or shed which is protected from the rain. The problem is that the atmosphere contains moisture and moisture corrodes iron. What I do to protect my planes is how to use an oily rag and give the metal components of the plane a light coat of oil.

I use this opportunity to oil any moving parts.

compass plane sole , toe and heel

Lubricate the Compass planes dovetail slide

My record compass plane has a dovetail slide on the soleplate. The dovetail slide allows the soleplate to move freely when you adjust the curve by bending the sprung steel sole. If the compass plane dovetail slide is rigid it will put undue force on the toe and heel pivots.

Lubricate the central sole adjustment screw of the compass plane

The central sole adjustment screw usually has a locking screw too which also require lubrication.

The Heel and Toe hinges need oil too

The compass plane sometimes suffers from sticky hinges so they will require regular attention and a drop or two of machine oil. 

Don’t forget to wipe off any excess oil before you use your plane on a piece of wood.

Check out some of our great hand plane recommendations

It is great to have you read my Article on the Compass Plane

Thank you for reading my article on the Compass plane which I lived with for some years. A great tool which you can also own. Whether you choose to purchase a used tool or a new one via the links in this page. Either way, you will have a great woodworking asset. If you want to learn more about hand planes then have a look at my blog on Hand Planes.


The link in this page send you to Amazon so you can purchase a new compass plane. We do receive a small commission which we thank you for your support

Author Biography

I have been working with wood since 1989. My woodworking education was at Norwich city College but I feel I received my real education from my father ‘Malcolm the Boat’. A highly skilled craftsman who had spent most of his life building boats.

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