Now you may not have realised this, but I have one or two problems with the design of the rear tote on the Lee Valley Veritas planes. I know, I’ve hidden it well - as long as you don't read the reviews… It’s not like both L-V and I haven’t made efforts to come up with a solution, but no dice. So in between gazing at my hand in frustrated contemplation, I got to thinking of ways round the problem. Eventually the light dawned, the penny dropped, unto me was shown a vision and I realised the answer. Now I’m not suggesting this is something everyone should rush out and do, but I thought it might be of interest as most of it is applicable to making a tote for a Stanley, Record or whatever too.


First catch your wood. In this case Bubinga would have been the ideal, but I didn’t have any. But I did have an off-cut of Cherry skulling about, so I used that. The required thickness depends on the tote shape you want to some extent, but in this case I wanted to accommodate the shape of the casting at the base as neatly as possible, so it’s a little thicker than is perhaps usual - 27mm. Keeping it square to start with, I drilled and counterbored for the rearmost of the two bolts. Yes, that’s right; only one of them. Luckily I had a long bit that went right through, but theoretically you can drill from both sides and they should meet. Yeah, right…
Then I removed the existing tote, replaced the bolt and eyeballed the angle against the nifty Bevel Boss
Seemed to be about 15°, so I cut off the bottom of the blank at 15°. Adjust to fit your own situation.
Voilŕ, one bolt hole at the required angle. Okay, so the tote shape requires a bit of work yet…
The next step was to relieve the base of the blank to accommodate the plane casting ; complicated by it being designed for a tote without a toe. A Stanley/Record/etc, and even the Veritas planes designed for the MkII tote, should be much easier. In order to make measuring as simple as possible, I took a mould with some Blue-tak. Taking care not to stretch it too much when I removed it… Modelling clay of some sort might be better.
Then using calipers I transferred the measurements to the base on the blank - more or less. It doesn’t have to be a perfect fit; in fact you need to allow a little space for the movement of the wood. Well that’s my excuse…
I removed the bulk using the Woodrat, simply ‘cos it was the easiest way. Boring out the bulk, then chisel and gouge would do just as good a job. In order to get the toe area to rest on the unmachined front area of the plane casting I had to do a little additional tweaking. I found rubbing the metal with a soft pencil, installing the blank and twiddling it a bit to transfer the pencil to the blank, effectively demonstrated where I needed to remove more wood with a gouge. Took quite a few twiddles to get it right though.
Next step was to draw a suitable tote shape. Easiest to draw round an existing tote quite honestly, but don't tell LV I used a LN tote...
That most useful of dodges to “cut” inside curves…
... using forstner bits of the right diameter...
...and a little work with a bandsaw, and it’s starting to look much more tote-like.

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