Clifton Block Planes: Beauty & Performance

Clifton Adjustable-Mouth Low-Angle Block Plane

The Clifton Low Angle Adjustable Mouth Block Plane looks like a boutique tool, but is as functional as it is pleasing to the eye. Clifton Planes are made in Sheffield, England by the last remaining traditional hand tool manufacturer in the U.K. Their hand planes are superb modern examples of old-world craftsmanship. Made from bronze, this block plane aims to offer the ultimate in comfort and style. Fitting your hand perfectly with its high-quality Walnut handle, this block plane will allow you to easily shave your project's surface.

Upon using one of these Clifton Block Planes, you immediately notice two things: 1) This is a great-looking plane; and 2) This is a great plane. The look of these planes is certainly striking, but don't be distracted by their refined aesthetic. These planes are heavy-duty and meant for use. Infinity Tools is happy to offer the Clifton Block Plane(101-580) and Replacement Blades(101-580BL), as it has quickly become a favorite tool amongst everyone here.

Attention to Detail Makes the Difference

Clifton overlooked nothing with these premium block planes. Some say the whole is more than the sum of its parts, but don't give short shrift to the individual components of this U.K.-made tool. As I already mentioned, this plane has a bronze body and a unique walnut covering on the lever cap. Unlike cast iron, bronze doesn't rust. This is a huge advantage if you live somewhere with high humidity (like us, in Florida) or store tools in a non-climate controlled environment. The walnut-topped lever cap adds an almost boutique look to the plane, but also feels very natural in the hand. The 0.125" thick O1 steel irons—more than 50% thicker than the industry standard of .080"—are hardened to HRC 60-62 and cryogenically treated to improve edge retention. The 1-5/8" blade is beveled at 25° and bedded at 12°, for a total effective angle of attack of 37°.

Clifton's long history of making planes is evident in the precision machining of the blade and mouth adjustment mechanisms. The mouth of the plane is adjustable for control over shaving size. Just loosen the finely machined brass knob and move the toe of the sole in or out to dial in the proper mouth opening.  The blade adjustment mechanism controls both lateral movement and blade depth. The dual threads of the adjustment knob allow precise depth adjustment with an extremely small amount of backlash.

The Clifton Block Plane In Use

Block planes are ideal for breaking corners, trimming joinery, and cleaning up end grain. This plane excels at all these tasks. You'll find that the Clifton Block Plane has a bit more heft than most other block planes which adds to its momentum and resistance to chatter. The aforementioned cryogenically treated O1 blade is very sharp right out of the box. All new blades should be lapped and honed, but you'll find the effort minimal for this iron. The treated steel also means that once you have a sharp edge, you'll get more use out of it before you need to hone it again.

Clifton Block Planes make breaking and chamfering corners a breeze.
Clifton Block Planes make breaking and chamfering corners a breeze.
Extra heft for resistance to chatter when cleaning up difficult end grain.
Extra heft for resistance to chatter when cleaning up difficult end grain.

Once you use a Clifton Block Plane we think you'll agree it compares favorably to nearly anything else currently available on the market. A tool doesn't have to look great to work well, but when one does, it's hard to put down.