Saturday, May 4, 2013

JPBO, Danish manufacturer of wooden bodied planes

During my last project I needed to mark a line out to determine the area for the base plate of the steam engine. I had already made the rabbets on the foundation for the display case. This resulted in that I couldn't use my Veritas marking gauge since the fence is too high.

I found my old scratch type Danish marking gauge. It can also be used as a mortising gauge, since it has got two points that are individually adjustable.
Brian Eve pointed out he would like some more information about it, so here is a little portion of unnecessary knowledge:

The brand is JPBO which is an abbreviation of: Johan P Bendixen, Odense. I guess that the founders middle name was Peter (a common name), but I am not sure. The company was positioned in Odense which is the 3rd largest city in Denmark. Normally this brand is associated with planes rather than marking gauges, so here is a small description of this Danish contribution to the world of planes:

This company is mainly known for their production of wooden bodied planes. These planes are still fairly common, since they were supplied for a lot of schools for Sløjd classes (sloyd / woodworking).

The company went bankrupt in 1992, but I don't think that they produced planes that late. My guess is, that they stopped the production of planes sometime in the late 1970'ies

The planes are typically made out of beech, but some of the fancier ones also have some exotic wood in them.

Since we don't have any steel production in Denmark, the blades were imported from the worlds leading country concerning high quality steel: Sweden. And not only from this country, but also from the worlds absolute finest producer of chisels and plane irons: Erik Anton Berg of Eskilstuna. (please note that parts of this paragraph are my points of view, and not necessarily the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth). I am in no way affiliated with E.A. Berg or any of its subsidiaries etc. bla. bla. bla.

It seems that the irons for the smaller planes weren't necessarily from E.A. Berg, as one of my specialty planes has got a British iron from Sheffield (I can't remember the manufacturer).

My 24" wooden jointer, with a 63 mm iron (2.5")

Close up of the lamination.
The jointer sadly has a crack on one side besides the mouth, I guess that some earlier owner smashed the wedge in too hard. It doesn't affect the function of the plane as far as I have noticed though.
JPBO is cast into the cap iron, and the width of the blade is stamped on the back of the plane.

My wooden smoothing plane with an adjustable mouth.

Close up of the adjustable mouth. The sole of the plane is of a hard exotic wood.
 If you look carefully, you will see that some jerk (me) ground the iron to a round shape to be able to use the plane as a scrub plane. I can't really explain what went through my mind that day, since I have other less delicate wooden planes that I could have converted. I can just say that I am sorry.

A JPBO plane that I have never used.

Front view of the plane.

I have never used this plane, since I have absolutely no clue as to what it should be used for. It was placed in a tool cabinet that my father bought at a second hand shop. It has been in there since it was new, and the guy who made the cabinet is a trained cabinetmaker. The width of the blade is 20 mm.

Another specialty plane from JPBO.

Front view of the plane.
My guess is that this plane is used to make a 30 degree chamfer on both sides where two boards meet. e.g. floor boards. But if there are someone out there with more specific knowledge, please enlighten us all.

The marking gauge that caught Brian's eye.

The wear surface is covered with a plate of brass.
I prefer the Veritas marking gauge, but one advantage of this gauge is that you can turn the rods containing the points 90 degrees, enabling you to use the marking gauge on the side instead of end wise.


  1. I can see many advantages to this marking gauge. I am fascinated with the wedges, though. It looks like some kind of triple wedge system. Is it difficult to adjust with precision?

    I love your jointer.

    And I think the first plane you don't know what it is is some kind of butt mortise chisel. Only this one has two fences. Perhaps it is a single purpose tool for a particular size of hinge. The wide open mouth is for visibility. Probably by the time you figure it out, you could cut a hundred butt mortise hinges with a chisel.

  2. I have thought about the hinge part, but I can't quite see how it is supposed to work. I think I'll have to try it some day.

    I have never considered the marking gauge to be difficult to adjust. You set it to your desired measurement, and press the center wedge. Since it pushes to the smaller side wedges, and not directly on the sticks containing the small pointed brads, the setting does not change.

  3. That wooden smoothing plane looks great. How does the adjustable mouth work? I'm asking because I've just seen a secondhand one for sale. It's got at least four different woods in the makeup o0f the body and EA Berg irons. What should I pay for it?

    1. Hello Martin
      The adjustable mouth works pretty much like the mouth on the Stanley block planes with an adjustable mouth.
      The idea of an adjustable mouth is that you can make the gap in front of the blade narrower if you are going to plane some difficult grain.

      The same feature is on most metal bodied planes as well, but on some of them it is a little bit more work to do the adjustment.

      I use hand planes to some extent, and I very rarely adjust the mouth, so it is a nice feature, but not at all necessary.

      Regarding the prize of such a plane, I would say that it depends on a lot of things, such as where in the World you are located, condition etc.

      JPBO were the top Danish plane manufacturer as far as I am concerned. And the smoother with adjustable mouth was top of the line, so it was a very good plane when it was made.
      A wooden plane has the advantage of the sole being easily flattened, so unless it is beaten to death, it should be fairly easy to get the plane back to its full potential.
      The old E.A. Berg irons are the best money can buy if you ask me. I have seen just the blade with cap iron for sale on ebay for 30 $.

      But if you lived in Sweden for instance, you could probably find a similar blade for 10$

      It takes a bit of practise to be able to set up a wooden smoothing plane, because you do the adjustment of the blade by tapping the top of the blade, or the back of the plane. This is where a metal plane is easier to set up.
      A wooden plane will slide far easier over a piece of wood to be planed, so it is all a matter of taste.

      I would really prefer not to give a suggestion to how much you should pay for the plane, since I haven't seen it. To my knowledge, the JPBO's aren't very sought after as collectibles, so the price should reflect the price of a good user plane, and not that of a collectors item.

      I hope it helped a bit.