I was in the lucky position to be able to commission a handmade Mathieson style Mitre Plane by Bruce Neville. This is my experience of the process and the results. This is a completely independent review. I paid the going rate for the plane and I expect to receive no payment or favours for writing it.


When I commissioned the plane, I had already been following Bruce’s work on Facebook and Instagram for a while. I’d seen his work, his thought process and seen the exchanges he’d had with other members of the group. I’d also seen his charges, which based on the handmade nature of his work, I thought reasonable. Bruce is also a furniture restorer so should know what a good plane looks like.

When I originally contacted Bruce I had seen the below picture which inspired the purchase. Bruce had made this plane in 2022, but since then he was now offering a Norris style adjuster of his own design. The cost in early 2023 was what I felt to be a reasonable £1250 which at the time was around AU$2300. If you think this is expensive then look up Sauer and Steiner or Karl Holtey planes and I’m not entirely convinced these are as ‘handmade’ as Bruce’s work.

Mathieson Style

Early Mathieson style mitre plane by Bruce Neville
The picture of the Mathieson style mitre plane that Bruce Neville originally made which inspired my purchase.

Bruce offered me a choice of timbers including ebony, several types of rosewood, boxwood and anything else I desired providing he could buy a piece of it. I opted for boxwood.

My plane took just over a week to build, but sourcing the materials took longer. Boxwood proved to be tricky, but luckily Bruce managed to get a nice piece from a trusted supplier. He showed me pictures of the boxwood, provided a moisture content reading and asked if I was happy to proceed. Yes please!

Moisture content of the boxwood
Moisture content of the actual boxwood used.

Plane Build

After asking permission, Bruce published pictures of the build online. I was delighted not only to see those pictures, but to share in his progress and tribulations along the way.

Marking out the cheeks of the mitre plane
Marking out the cheeks of the mitre plane with engineer’s blue. You can see where the pins will go to secure the boxwood infills.
The cheeks after cutting out
The brass cheeks after cutting out.
Peening of the steel sole to the brass cheeks
Peening of the steel sole to the brass cheeks. Bruce uses a former to ensure there is no deformation to the body apart from the peened dovetails.
Mitre plane mouth - maybe not as tight as I would have liked
Mitre plane mouth – maybe not as tight as I would have liked, but in fairness to Bruce, I never specified a super tight mouth. You can see the join at either side of the mouth showing how the sole is made in two parts. In the finished plane this is nearly invisible, as are the peened joint transitions between steel and brass. If he’d used only one material, I don’t think I would have been able to see any dovetails.
Norris style blade depth adjusters - Bruce's own design
Norris style fine depth adjusters – Bruce’s own design and produced on his Warco lathe. He even made his own knurling tools.
Bruce hand makes and stamps the logo on the curved surface of the lever cap
Bruce hand makes and stamps the logo on the curved surface of the lever cap. Not for the feint hearted and then polishes it to a mirror finish.
Shaping the boxwood bun of the mitre plane
Shaping the boxwood bun of the mitre plane. Bruce is keen to show that this is done by hand as many have claimed his work is too good to be done this way.
Shaping the boxwood rear of the mitre plane
Shaping the boxwood rear of the mitre plane. Some of this is done with a machine, but the final fitting and shaping is done with a file by hand.


The finished Mathieson style Mitre plane by Bruce Neville
She’s a beauty. The finished Mathieson style Mitre plane by Bruce Neville. The lacquer finish gives a very clean and even finish. The finish may have been a little muckier in the crevices than I would have liked (I don’t think Bruce is one of those workers who has a clean room for finishing), but it’s a nice finish and any woodworker worth his salt will see this as a small price to pay.


The finished Mathieson style Mitre plane by Bruce Neville
The boxwood and brass look stunning on this Mathieson style mitre plane.

It’s a weighty beast at 2.4Kg and 10 1/2″ long. The O1 steel iron is also made and oil hardened by Bruce. He sharpens the irons I put it to immediate use. It worked really well on some tough figured grain. I spotted that the iron’s edge wasn’t as sharp as I like them and Bruce confirmed he generally only sharpens to 1000 grit. So I gave the iron the sharpening works and lubricated the sole and the results were awesome. I have several vintage infill planes including a Norris and several Mathiesons and this left them all for dead. Very impressive.

That mouth proved no problem at all and in fact I wonder whether a tighter mouth would have made the depth of cut too restrictive for me. It ended up well under a millimetre in width so not a big mouth by any means. So all-in-all, I’m a very happy man.

Postage was relatively quick (maybe 1 week), and wouldn’t have been very expensive except we agreed it was only fair to insure the plane for its true value. The only real kick in the pants in this was the 10% import duty and another $100 for processing the import. I expected the 10% duty – I didn’t anticipate the $100 fee.

Videos of that handmade Mathieson Style mitre plane

The plane pre finishing
Lever cap – so shiny!
Bruce’s test driving her before shipping.
On the catwalk
The plane’s sole


In summary, if you are thinking about buying one of these and you are in a position to do so, then go for it. You won’t regret it. Just don’t forget to figure in the shipping, insurance, exchange rate, import duty and import fees.

To contact Bruce, see all his details via the below link. You may even want to buy one of the many books he has written on plane making. I did.

Bruce Neville – The Old Tool Shop

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