A Tribute to James Krenov

We will miss the great James Krenov.   I am making a Krenov Style Plane as a bit of a remembrance.

I have had the basic shape cut out for a while, but now I am back to it.  Here it is after the four basic cuts.

There are several styles of plane that stand out as icons. The Krenov is certainly one. It’s simplicity of construction, comfort in hand and grace standing there make it more than just a tool. No other plane form seems as friendly. To me, the Krenov invites innovation, use and a certain playfulness.

As far as pure aesthetic art, the Hong Kong style plane and the Krenov are to me the most graceful. Seeing either one give me a child like impulse to make a shaving with it. They have a similarity in their curves, yet the Krenov comes across as clearly Western.

In use, a well matched Krenov is a revelation. No other plane comes close to the comfort in use. The Krenov plane is first and foremost a user. It is friendly to the hands, and if it was made right, it’s curves fit your hands wonderfully. That is the entire point of the Krenov. Simple ergonomics. The beauty of the shape is entirely incidental.

It is also quite revolutionary, it breaks the user free from mass production and from the quantified widths and lengths that are assumed by the industry. In a time of mass produced power sanders that scream as they score wood and throw allergens into the air, Krenov, with this plane, introduced many a craftsman to look past the mass produced tools.

Krenov never accepted that his tools might be treasures. He would not allow the prices he sold them for to become extraordinary. James Krenov was quite stubborn in the adherence to his standards and to his philosophy.

The Arts and Crafts Movement is still quite alive, in some great part, due to James Krenov. Many of us are inspired by the works of the brilliant craftsmen and designers who have contributed and are still contributing to this form. Krenov was not one of the original founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement, yet, in my limited understanding of the form, I cannot think of another designer and craftsman who was as true to the original spirit of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Yet there is more to his philosophy. So many craftsmen have had their work, joy of work and designs influenced by James Krenov, that in subtle ways his personal movement is probably larger than the Arts and Crafts.

The end buyer of of fine furniture may be shopping around and looking for a maker that matches their ideals. The collectors may have books of lovely Arts and Crafts homes, rooms and furniture. The buyers of fine furniture may be making selections based purely on style. Not everyone looking for original designs is looking for Arts and Crafts. Krenov has influenced many of the great craftsmen and artists currently living and creating. He has changed how they perceive wood, and even work. James Krenov has influenced so many, that it may in fact be hard to find a fine original work these days, in any style, that is not in part, a Krenov.

Godspeed James!

5 comments to A Tribute to James Krenov

  • Bob,

    Good ideas. And what a great way to pay tribute to Krenov – walking his path by making a plane. Good luck with it.


  • Skip J.

    What Rob said!

    Please give us a build-along with pics as you go….

    And well said, very well said!


  • Skip J.

    Hello Bob;

    I couldn’t make any comments on anything other than JK the other day, it would just not have been appropriate!

    Still, I did notice that the wood color of the plane body was very orange…. This one going to be drop-damage proof wood material???


  • It seems fitting, Skip, to have this plane capable of surviving several generations of use. I will comment more on my next post, but this one, like you said, is for James.


  • Skip J.

    ‘enuf said!


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