Last year while I was in Munich playing and testing hand planes, I found some of the most beautifully contemporary crafted infill hand plane I’ve ever seen. I made some shavings using these planes and it was "wooden poetry". The makers name Marcou was quite new to me, but to my surprise after doing some research I found they were made right here in New Zealand by Phillip Marcou.
Once back in NZ, I started doing some further research and I found lots of information and reviews from people like Chris Schwarz, a world-wide very well known journalist and passionate woodworker. So, in this Blog I will add some of Chris’s comments taken from his reviews about these breathtaking hand planes.
Marcou, began woodworking at age 12 in his native Zimbabwe and became a full-time furniture maker in 1990 – a career that was launched by making 1,000 high-quality wooden coat hangers for a hotel. He eventually settled on making military-style furniture – campaign chests, Davenports and the like – as the centerpiece of his business. Marcou says he never had to look for work while building in Zimbabwe; but as the political situation worsened, he needed to make a change.
He moved to New Zealand and he found the country already flooded with low-cost furniture from Asia, a fact that has put many bespoke furniture shops on the auction block. Despite the dire business prospects however, Marcou tried for two years to make his furniture business in New Zealand work.
One day, Philip purchased a Veritas bevel-up smoothing plane and he was enamored with it, but he began mulling over some changes to the tool that he thought would make it more suited for his work. He put together his own handplane using a variety of metal and woodworking machines, and since January 2006 has been making planes for a living and doing some furniture work whenever he can.
One of his most popular models is the S20A (pictured below) and Chris Schwartz reckons this plane pushes the limits.
Schwarz says: “If you work with exotic woods, the nasty, stringy stuff that no plane can tame, then the S20A will handle exotic woods with no hassle. The higher pitch allows you to easily get the plane up to high planing angles (up near 60° counts as high in my book) without sharpening radically high angles on the iron. I have a 40° secondary bevel on the iron right now, which is easy to achieve with standard equipment. Add the 20° from the bed of the tool and I’m planing at 60° with little effort. And high angles are great for both difficult tropical woods and even irascible domestics.”
Marcou's cabinetmaking and machining sensibilities make this a tool of few (if any) compromises. The dovetails are seamlessly tight. The knurling on the knob is crisp. The parts slide together in Swiss-watch fashion – the way the lever cap goes into the plane body is truly a marvel. All in all, no disappointments.
A dovetail joint near the heel of the plane. All the joints are perfect. And the splay angle is quite attractive as well.”
Another hand plane I had the chance to use was a custom beautifully made chamfer plane. This is an adaptation of a Japanese wooden chamfer plane that has a movable fence and a body that shifts laterally so you can expose a fresh part of the iron.
You can purchase this gem in Germany for 129 Euros and in Canada for CAD$200. But the good news is you can purchase this little plane for NZ$175 from our website. I got one and it is amazing! And if you are not convinced yet, here is a little teaser video made by the Unplugged Woodshop.
Click on the picture to watch the video
If you visit Philip’s website you will find a lot of information and also the opportunity to contact him if you wish to purchase one of his hand planes made to order.
All I can say now is start saving your money because these are just stunning.