Razee planes

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.


Tools of the Trades (Show and Sale)


Some of my blog posts allude to “Tools of the Trades”. Tools of the Trades is a biannual show of The Tool Group of Canada, with 30+ dealers. It is arguably one of the largest antique tool sales in Canada (Pickering, ON). The next sale is November 17th. Sauer and Steiner usually have a booth there, with their majestic planes, but it’s hard to justify spending over $2K on a plane. Besides which there are so many other beautiful vintage tools. There are tools of all sorts, not just woodworking tools. I have picked up some true gems – two razee planes, made of lignum vitae, with aluminum handles for $40; a couple of good quality saws for $5 a piece; a Millers Falls No.42 coping saw for $17. Some of the regular vendors include:

  • Britools – specializes in British hand tools, Stanley, Record – saws, planes, chisels, levels – every tool has been cleaned/restored and sharpened.
  • Grandpas’ Treasure Chest – a great assortment of woodworking tools.
  • JP Plane Shavings – a good selection of planes, including some Millers Falls, tool catalogs, measuring tools, etc.

It truly is tool heaven. Last show in April I picked up a 26″ Boston Saw Co. rip saw (I think this was $5), an 18″ Welland Vale Special, a Hobbies fret saw, a Record No.77 bullnose, a Millers Falls No.1950 “Buck Rogers” brace and a couple of wooden spoke shaves. My workshop is becoming a tool space, but that’s the slippery slope – you end up getting so many bargains that you can become a vendor! I usually spend 2+ hours at the sale. I go with a “list” of tools I’m looking for, and search for those on first pass. I’m also on the lookout for tools that are unique ,or exceptionally good value. Second pass is looking for anything I missed on the first pass, after which it’s looking for oddities which may be more for show than anything else. There are those who believe they will find it cheaper elsewhere – but don’t forget you still have to pay postage on stuff from eBay/Etsy… and the fact that someone did the searching through flea markets etc. to find the tools in the first place. So come along to “Tools of the Trades”, buy a few vintage tools, restore/refurbish them, and start your tool collection.

One of the dealers tables.

Rali planes – Swiss design precision


Designed and manufactured in Switzerland by SAMVAZ, RALI planes are plastic and metal hybrid planes designed with replaceable blades – no sharpening required. However prevalent these planes are in Europe, they have never prospered well in North America. Their advertising literature focuses on five key points:

  1. No sharpening – Surgical steel disposable/reversible blades
  2. Easy settings – Red lever for instant depth adjustment of the blade
  3. No wasted time – Rough and finishing without changing blades
  4. Blade always 90° to sole – Blade holder actioned by eccentric cam
  5. Modern Swiss made design – Ergonomically designed in indestructible man made material


The plane soles are made of laminated steel, which makes it completely flat and somewhat indestructible, and supposedly able to withstand being dropped on the floor. The planes get good reviews by those who use them, but little is written about them. A more recent model has morphed from the horned-plane design, to a more British-style shape – the RALI 260L. Sleek, black, reminds me of the sort of plane that Darth Vader would use if his hobby was woodworking.

The RALI 260L is sold in Canada by TersaKnives Inc. for $159.50. The question of course is why bother, when you can by a beautiful Veritas #4 Smoothing plane for $199.00. Sure its blade will need sharpening, but isn’t that part of the craft. The RALI planes certainly exude Swiss-made precision. They are well designed and ideally suited to novice woodworkers, or in situations where the plane has to take some abuse.  SAMVAZ also makes the RALI Shark – a series of chisels with disposable blades. An overview of the RALI plane features is shown below.