Saturday, March 2Not Your Ordinary English-Tagalog Dictionary

What is Carpenter’s Plane in Tagalog? Origin, Types, and Uses

Also known as the hand plane, the carpenter’s plane in Tagalog is called “katam.” It is used to remove rough edges, level uneven surfaces, and create a smooth finish on the wood. Carpenters push or pull the plane across the wood’s surface as the blade shaves off thin layers of wood. They usually use this versatile tool after sawing and before nailing.

Carpenter's planes in Tagalog
Hand planes in the Philippines

The origin of the carpenter’s plane is unknown but it is believed to have existed over 2,000 years ago. Historians assume that ancient Egyptians used a stone with sand as an abrasive to smooth the surface of the wood. Nonetheless, the first hand plane was probably similar to a chisel-like tool placed in a wooden block but there is no historical proof. 

Meanwhile, the earliest known carpenter’s planes were discovered in Pompeii and dating back to 79 A.D. They resemble the No. 3 Smoothing Plane we have today and are now displayed in the Naples Museum in Italy. These Pompeii planes measured about 21 centimeters long and had a wooden case covered with a 1/4″ thick iron plate.  

The first plane found in Britain was dug up in Silchester. It was a Roman iron plane, more robust than the ones discovered in Pompeii. Archeologists also found Roman planes made of bronze without any wood on the Continent. The Silchester plane looks a lot like the modern Jack Plane in its basic design and was used for around 150 years. 

Among the earliest hand plane makers during the 17th century were Thomas Granford and John Davenport, both from London. In America, Francis Nicholson from Wrentham, Massachusetts, was the first known planemaker, creating wood planes from 1728 to 1753. In the 1800s, American tool designer Leonard Bailey had several patents for hand planes, which were later called Stanley Bailey planes. 

There are various types of hand planes, each designed for specific tasks. This includes the smoothing plane, jack plane, jointer plane, block plane, shoulder plane, and the Japanese plane. Smoothing planes are ideal for removing fine shavings off the wood after initial shaping, while Jack planes are suitable for rough work and initial leveling of wood.

Meanwhile, jointer planes are for shaving off large chunks of rough lumber to achieve a perfectly straight surface. On the other hand, block planes are smaller and used for minor cutting and more detailed work. Shoulder planes are used to trim parts of a joint such as tenons, and Japanese planes cut on the pull stroke instead of the push stroke.

In the Philippines, local carpenters and woodworkers also know how to use hand planes properly. Katam makers usually use kamagong, a type of hardwood that comes from the Mabolo tree, found only in the Philippines. Although most modern hand planes have stainless covers, some carpenters still prefer using traditional wooden planes.

Use katam in a sentence. 


Bukod sa para maging madulas ang kahoy, ang katam ay ginagamit din para mas madali idikit yung kahoy. 


Aside from smoothing the wood surface, the carpenter’s plane is also used so wood can easily be glued.

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