Before you reinvent the wheel... Hit antiques stores. Make them a regular stop. Things aren't what they used to be thanks to all of the shows like "American Pickers." Everybody thinks if they find something old and metal it must be worth a fortune. I used to get Stanley #10s in really good shape for $5.
So- I live about an hour's drive from a town that had a large wooden plane manufacturer, so there are a lot of wooden planes in the area that end up in antique shops, and frequently they are priced very low. I bought a bunch of molding planes for $1 each because I bought a whole box of them, just so I could get a rabbet plane that was in the bottom. I have never seen a Stanley 79 at an antiques shop, but I do see the 99 on a somewhat regular basis.
If you want to make your own wood-bodied plane- I suggest that you experiment with cheap antique shop chisels to use as plane irons. I've made thumb planes from small chisels blades, and I've seen planes up to 3/4" made the same way. If you want to go expensive, Hock sells heavy blades intended for "Krenov-style" wood planes, and I've seen rabbet versions of those. THey're pretty easy to make