Clay, Application to Refinement


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Clay Planes

The clay plane in its various forms is an extremely useful tool. It can be the traditionally extruded aluminum plane with its machined cutting edges, or a wooden clay plane that can be made with the use of a bandsaw. Or simply a Stanley Surform that has been purchased and customized.

The uses vary, it can be used to plane off excess material so as to give a more defined shape, or used to cut in a wheel arch profile.

Smaller planes can be used to define details and to cut-in shoulders to accept extruded clay shapes.


As you can see from the photograph on the right, clay planes can be in various shapes and sizes. They all have their own unique role to play.

Selection of clay planes as used in clay modeling.

Wooden clay planes.

The photograph to the left is a selection of wooden clay planes. They can be made to suit a specific application, all that is needed is the wood and a bandsaw to cut the shape on.

The photograph to the right shows a selection of metal clay planes. They are a mixture of shop purchased Stanley Surform planes that have been modified, a custom made wheel arch plane and the regular extruded type aluminum clay plane.

Various metal clay planes.


Now that we have become familiar with the various types of clay plane, we can proceed to make a wooden clay plane, a wheel arch plane and modify a Stanley Surform plane.

The methods used to make these tools will provide the basis for any future shape that may be needed.

           Material: Hardwood

                            Maple, Beech, Oak, etc.


           Size:       3"x 1"x 3/4"



Dimensional drawing on how to make a clay plane.

Wooden block marked out for making a clay plane.

First cuts on the bandsaw.


First, select a piece of hardwood with a tight grain. This will reduce split-out when cutting to a thin wall on the bandsaw. 


Mark out the material to the dimensions shown by the illustration. Then scribe a line midway through the two faces as shown by the photograph above.


The 3/32" wide faces represent the blades of the plane, so just for reference, mark a diagonal line from the inside of the first blade to the base of the second. Pencil out the upper section of the material. This will prevent confusion when it comes to cutting out on the bandsaw. Then repeat the whole procedure along the length of the plane.


Repeat  the same mark out perpendicular to the first face, remembering to pencil out the upper portion of the material.

With everything marked out we can start by bandsawing down the edge of the first blade until we hit the center line. Repeat this procedure for the next five blades using the penciled out section as a guide.


From the inside of the second blade, cut a curved line with the bandsaw until it hits at the saw cut on the first blade. Repeat this for the next five blades and you should have the same look as the photograph above.

Photograph of finished wooden clay plane.

If we rotate our wooden block 90 degrees, the blades should be face down and the mark out should be facing up. As we did before, we bandsaw down the edge of the first blade until we hit the center line. We repeat this for the next five blades, using the pencil out as a guide.


Same again, from the inside of the second blade cut a curved line on the bandsaw until you hit the saw cut on the first blade. Repeat this for the next five blades.


You should end up with a tool that looks the same as the photograph opposite. It is easily sharpened by rubbing the blades on sandpaper on a flat surface.


This handy little plane is ideal for modeling in the shoulders ready for accepting rubber moldings.


Copyright © 2003 - 20 Steven Austin