What exactly is a razee plane? The name is derived from the nautical term razee, a sailing ship that has been cut down to reduce the number of decks. The name is derived from the French vaisseau rasé, meaning a razed. In a similar context, the rear part of the wooden plane is lowered in a cut-away style, lowering the totes position on the plane. Lowering the tote allows for better balance, and more precise control by lowering the centre of gravity. It also aligns the force being applied right behind the blade. The planes are generally made of a hard wood such as Lignum Vitae, which is resistant to wear, but heavy. Razee planes are quiet unique in the genre of planes, often used by shipwrights. One form of the plane, the “technical jack plane”, is touted to have been used in school workshops, making for a lighter tool and easier to use for the beginner. In one book, “Woodworking A Book of Tools, Materials, and Processes for the Handyman”, (1906, Paul Hasluck) identifies a razee as a “sunk handle jack plane with closed toat“. The plane is shown below.
The razee is also known as a cutaway plane. Below is a segment of a Sargent catalog from 1894, in which razee “Ship Planes” feature quite prominently. The three planes illustrated are a smooth (9″), jack (16″), and jointer (26″), although the catalog also mentions a 22″ fore plane. They are likely made of Lignum Vitae.
The Sandusky catalog of 1885 also contains a set of four “ship” planes, made of Lignum Vitae. Note that razee planes have both open “jack-type” handles, and closed “saw-type” handles.
Here are two razee planes I picked up at “Tools of the Trade”. I believe I bought the pair for C$40. These tools are unique in that they sport aluminum totes with conventional saw-type closed handles. The planes have no markings, brass strike buttons, and plane irons from Moulson Brothers and Buck Brothers. The jack razee is 16″ in length, the fore razee 21″.
Here is a profile view of the jack razee. They are elegantly designed planes.
This view clearly shows the aluminum handle. The rear “deck” of the plane is marginally lower than the forward portion of the plane. Note how close the blade is to the front edge of the tote. Eventually I will get these planes refurbished, and post some test runs.