John's Tool Crib
by John Cupp

Have a Big Wood Removing Job?
Get a Microplane!

All pictures courtesy of Micro Plane Inc

One couple discovered that they make an excellent zester for orange peel or my favorite, “Chocolate“. I acquired one for my wife and she doesn’t allow me near the thing. I can peel an apple with it in less than 30 seconds and orange or lemon peels are just as fast. Skin is another thing they can also cut super fast.

These tiny planes cut without much pressure just like the Japanese saws, so you don’t have to bear down to get great results. I took a chunk of Apitome that is used for trailer beds on low bed trailers for hauling tracked equipment. It comes from South America and it is very hard to cut with anything. It sinks in water because it is dense but just like the super sharp Shark Saw, the Microplane ate the wood like anything I have ever seen. I once rebuilt a trailer with this wood and it destroyed three circular saws, over twenty blades for them and a hundred ¾” wood bits. The Microplane cut huge grooves in this wood in just minutes.

They make dozens of different blades for just about any type of tool you can remove wood with. I received three hacksaw converter blades. One is a rigid blade that will cut a flat surface; the next was a flexible blade for use on curved surface. I also have a half round blade for shaping large inside curves. Some of the Microplane types have course, medium and fine blades. The different types also have different shapes for cutting. I have ....

Hacksaw Converter Blades

.... three of the four hacksaw Microplane blades.

Micro Plane Drum Cutter Selection

Microplane also has rotary blades for use with a drill or drill press. There are three different sizes and you have to go to the slowest speed on your drill press to make them work right. The faster speeds don’t allow the cutters to make a good bite. These are the only Microplane types that make anything near sawdust. The smaller size works great on a variable speed drill where you can get the speed down to make it really cut. These are superb cutting instruments and I understand that they are coming out with a couple more types of the rotary cutters.

Drum cutter at work

Surform Replacement Blades

We can move on to the Surform replacement blades. You know, that long thing at the back of the shop that gathers dust because it is dull about five minutes after you start using it. I have the long blade and the pocket plane replacement and they make your Surform a real cutting machine again instead of a useless dust collector. I cannot impress on you strongly enough that you don’t use much “down pressure” when you are removing tons of material. Both of these blade types are wood assassins! This is the absolute best thing you could ever do for your Surform. In the past I have overlooked my Surform because of the poor blade life, now it sits right out in the open ready to shape and flatten any type of material.

Snap In Blade System

Double And Single Handle Types

With these new blades I tackled the hardest material to shape on the planet. That material is UHMW plastic. Yes it can be machined but only the sharpest blades can cut it and shaping it was almost impossible before the Microplane. I have a large stockpile of the stuff I use to make jigs and other pieces for my router table and table saws. Now curves and hand cut dados in the UHMW are a small task instead of a big production. I have a great respect for these blades now and I can use them on all of my boat-building projects.

Round Micro Plane Tools
Flat and Angle Cutters

Now we have the hand tools that come in all types of profiles and cutting abilities. There are flat, round, square and rectangular blades. They have small, medium and large size and a brand new R/2 model 3100 series that has reversible replaceable blades like the 3000 series except they give a smoother finishing stroke. What a superb combination, I have the 3000 series and if they have improved them they must be better than I can imagine. I have the small set that doesn’t have switchable blades. The larger tools have great handles for gripping but again I have to say that you do not have to use pressure to get them to cut. In fact if you use excessive pressure you damage the work and the tool. I’ll have to try and find the new 3100 series but if they are better than the last type they will digest wood faster than any sander you could buy.

Model 3100 With Blades Of All Types

The 30022 Microplane is a double-handle unit that can be used like a drawknife. I’ll have to convince my wife I need one of these bad boys. With all of the sizes and shapes you can find a profile that suits your need for a superior cutting and shaping tool. Contact the company from their website. There you will be able to find all of the dealers in your area.

I try to find tools that will be assets to my boat-building friends that read my column. I try to test many tools and I don’t put tools in my columns usually if they don’t make the grade. I can recommend these tools and I’ll stake my reputation on them as to their quality and ability. My recommendation is that these tools are a must have for your toolbox. I have never seen such a sharp and useful tool that I didn’t have to sharpen myself. I only have one reservation and that is they cannot be resharpend. I do know that these blades last a very long time but when they are finished they are completely finished. I will not mind buying new blades and I know that if someone is on my boat and they need their leg amputated, I have just the right tool, (LAUGHING VERY HARD NOW)! All kidding aside they work even in the kitchen sink. If you slip and remove a large chunk of a finger or hand don’t call me. I am warning everyone now that these thing bite if you are not careful. Go check them out, you’ll love them like I do.

From my tool crib,

John Cupp