Karl Holtey Infill Planes
Karl Holtey, more than any other man, is widely credited with launching the renaissance in traditional planemaking that we are enjoying today. Indeed, Karl Holtey is not the only traditional planemaker working today, but I think that we can safely say that Karl Holtey garnered the attention in woodworking magazines that brought this movement to the attention of discerning woodworkers. Today, few serious woodworkers will not have dreamed of one day owning a Holtey plane.
The attention and accolades that Karl Holtey has received are surely merited. Karl Holtey has dedicated himself to the perfection of the woodworking plane. While basing his planes on the classic pre-war planes of Thomas Norris, the planes that Karl Holtey manufactures today have been refined in design to the last detail. The quality of execution of this design is as good as is humanly possible. Everything is done by hand with attention to the finest detail. And it goes without saying, that only the very materials are used, starting with the A2 steel blade, which is cryogenically hardened. While the term has been a bit overused these days, Holtey planes are true heirloom tools.
Since these planes are so expensive, I think that this issues should be mentioned. The price of Karl Holtey's planes is of course simply a reflection of the hours of work that goes into each plane, and the expensive materials used. But if you think about it in historical terms, these planes are really not as expensive as they seem. If you look at the price of a top-of-the-line Norris model when it was new, such as a Norris A5 or A17 smoothing plane, or a Norris A1 jointer, and you convert that price into the hours a workman had to work to pay for it at the wages of that time, that time is similar to the time somebody might have to work today to pay for a Holtey plane. So in fact, the Holtey planes are really not an more expensive than a Norris was to our ancestors, it is just that we expect to get much more for our time than our ancestors did. The result of this is of course that most people settle for much less, and buy a mass produced product like a Lie-Nielsen plane.
The question occasionally comes up as to whether it would be less expensive to buy direct from Karl Holtey. If you are in the United States, the answer is no. If you factor in the cost of currency conversion, overseas shipping and insurance, and US Customs, you will find that it is more cost effective to deal through us and take advantage of the economies of scale that we have for shipping, insurance, customs clearance, and currency exchange. And of course, we normally have the planes in stock. We do not have our shopping cart enabled on the Holtey pages because we prefer to deal with our Holtey customers over the phone.
The Karl Holtey smoothing plane is loosely based on an antique cabinetmaker's mitre plane. Unlike on an antique plane, the lever cap is removable on the Holtey and the blade is actually riding on a metal bushing. Antique mitre planes in this small size are very hard to find. This plane fits the hand perfectly and is a great multi-purpose plane, being useful not just for fitting mitres, but for difficult smoothing jobs and other problems that are best suited to a small precision plane.
The Karl Holtey smoothing plane is styled after a Norris A13 adjustable smoothing plane. No other smoothing planes in the world have won as many accolades, or been the object of as much envy, as Karl Holtey's smoothing planes. These smoothing planes truly represent the last word in smoothing planes. Don't take our word for it, read the reviews in every major publication for serious woodworkers.
The Karl Holtey shoulder plane is styled after a Norris A7 adjustable shoulder plane. A shoulder plane is perhaps the single most important of the traditional British planes. Even before infill smoothing planes had become popular, infill rebate planes and shoulder planes were being used by the best woodworkers. In Duncan Phyfe's tool chest (now in display in the New York Historical Society), there are two metal planes, a mitre plane and a rebate plane. That is because the precision fitting of joints, both mitres and mortice and tenon joints, is best with a precision metal plane. For the triming of shoulders to fit mortice and tenon joints, no more precise plane has ever been available than the Karl Holtey shoulder plane. This is the truly the pinnacle of refinement of the shoulder plane.
The Karl Holtey thumb plane is styled after a Norris A31 adjustable thumb plane. Thumb planes are ultra precise planes for doing the most delicate work. While they are similar in form to an American block plane, this comparison is not a valid one. A thumb plane is a standard tool of a craftsman doing the most sophisticated woodwork. For just general work, you don't need a tool of this precision, but for a perfectionist, the Karl Holtey thumb plane is a necessity. The Karl Holtey thumb plane is truly the most precise thumb plane ever made.