replacing wear strip on wooden planes


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   I have a few wooden molding planes that have wear strips that are worn, split or missing. I belive they are usually boxwood. Is it availible? the boxwood I've seen in some lumber dealers just doen't look the same, Much more "grain"
   Could a replacement tropical wood be used?.... Lignum vitae,  ebony , rosewood or cocobolo?
   Any wood that is hard, little or no grain.
   Any sugesstions or experiances?


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I believe some of the old plane makers used Persimmon (like the heads of the old golf clubs). I have built a number of small projects from Persimmon and can vouch for its' hardness and wear characteristics.

David Turner
Plymouth, MI.


Well-known member
Persimmon in an antique plane would be highly unusual.  But it is definitely a very good modern substitute pioneered by Larry Williams of Clark & Williams fame (now Old Street Tools).  Matt Bickford also uses it in his planes.

Antique American planes of the 18th and very early 19th century don't generally have wear strips.  However, by the time wooden plane making really got huge in the US, most of the wear strips (called "boxing" - for the wood tha was typically used) were indeed boxwood imported in vast amounts into the US.

You can still get European boxwood from Octopus in Turkey, but it's going to cost you a mint - about $125 - $170 a b.f. depending on grade.

But any hard-wearing, relatively stable wood will do.  Even hard maple will work if the grain is nice and even.  Many sources claim that the boxing in most antique planes were bias-cut so that the actual wear surface was end-grain.  Personally, I've not seen a lot of evidence of that, and the face or edge grain of boxwood, a tropical hardwood like wenge or bloodwood, or a hard domestic species like hard maple or persimmon will give you more than enough wear compensation for your lifetime.

One thing I would definitely not suggest that you do - don't glue boxing back into a plane with CA or PVA type glues.  Either you or a future owner will want to be able to get the boxing back out at some point so that it can be repaired/replaced.  For that reason, I would use hide glue.


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I have seen several planes with the boxing in at a diagonal or bias cut. One nice thing about it is you don't need long pieces of boxwood to make it.


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most of the boxing I've seen in planes was at a bias. I have taken the boxing from other planes that were warped or no good for other reasons and reused it.

Start with a thicker piece, get it out of the old plane by whatever means (an old chisel splitting the plane along the grain works good) then rout out a cavity in a piece of wood that will hold the piece, pass it through a drum sander to flatten/thin. Glue in place with hide glue, shape and your good to go.


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I've bought several junker planes made of boxwood specifically for using as boxing. My best catch was a huge 3' long jointer wrecked at the mouth. I don't feel guilty about cutting that one up for tiny boxwood planes or boxing or whatever.

As for the glue, I agree about the hide glue; but also recommend doing a little joinery so you only have to glue the front end, will make it a lot easier to remove in the future.