Our hand-shaped handplanes just got a whole lot more dynamic. After some rather unseasonable swells down here in Juno Beach, the research and development branch of the Makai Project shop (i.e. me and a few other beach rats) have been busy at work creating, testing and trying to destroy the newest improvement to our handplanes. We aren't reinventing the device—yet—but we have made some solid improvements: An adjustable polypropolene strap (saltwater resistant) that uses stainless steel rings as anchors and recycled neoprene from an old wetsuit for comfort and padding.
FatFish Handplane with Stainless-Steel O Rings
None of this is new; many companies have been doing a similar setup to this in some shape, way or form. What sets ours apart is the makeup, and it starts with the handplane itself. We start with thick, laminated blanks made in-shop, which in itself is rather rare on market. The laminating allows us to make up some pretty sweet wood layups, alternating different species that compliment and contrast each other. Its within this laminate layup that we place the anchors. Using stainless-steel “O” rings and rectangular loops from the marine industry—super rust resistant—we laminate these into the wood, which does two things: Eliminates screws and after-the-fact hardware many companies use; and makes the anchor super strong—they aren't going anywhere, you need to destroy the handplane to get them out. Built thick, we hand shape each plane, using—get this—handplanes. Boom! The design allows for steep rockers, deep channels and tight rails, which cruises in the water much like a boat.
FatFish Handplane with Western Cedar, Aspen and Poplar.
And though this strapping offers superior strength and resistance to the elements, alone, the stuff is uncomfortable and rash inducing. To counter the chafe, we recruited an old retired wetsuit to act as a sleeve on the webbing. This not only counters the rigidity of the webbing, it also helps keep the buckle from shifting, interfering with the thumb, as well as tying down excess webbing needed for adjustment. Everything winds up coming in a nice, compact package that's comfortable and user friendly, adding to the overall ride.
Double Channel Handplane