Larry Williams

Larry Williams

2006 Award Recipient | WOODWORKING PLANES, Eureka Springs

Larry Williams of Eureka Springs was named the 2006 Arkansas Living Treasure for his work in the craft of creating handmade woodworking planes. 

Williams is self-taught in woodworking, metal working and other trades. While restoring an 1890 house in Denver with his wife, Williams developed a passion for history and historic preservation, especially traditional trades, techniques and tools. He and his wife moved to Eureka Springs in 1980, where he pursued a career as a restoration carpenter and cabinetmaker. He eventually formed a partnership with Bill Clark, a Eureka Springs contractor and cabinet maker, and focused on fine custom cabinetry and high-end finish carpentry.

Because of the difficulty in finding usable antique tools for their work, they began making their own. Williams began to research and design “floats,” the specialty tools needed to make woodworking planes. This became the first product of Clark & Williams, which quickly evolved into the production and sale of handmade woodworking planes.

Not only did he work to revive the traditional trade of making wooden molding hand planes, he also created the means to revive the trade. Williams taught himself machine shop metal working to duplicate old parts and to make the tooling necessary to produce the planes.

Clark & Williams are largely responsible for the reintroduction of varied bed angles in bench planes, a technology that is at least 300 years old, which had previously been abandoned due to the compromises of mass production.

Williams has appeared in notable publications such as Popular Woodworking, Woodwork magazine, Fine Tool Journal, and A Guide to the Makers of American Wooden Planes, a historic survey of American wooden plane makers that date as far back as the early 1700s. It is the primary reference on the history of American wooden plane makers.

He shares his enthusiasm and expertise by teaching plane making classes and workshops and speaking and giving demonstrations at woodworking symposiums and meetings throughout the United States.

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