Planes, planes, planes


I recently refurbished a #3 Stanley that I have had waiting in the wings for months. It performs very well now and I can see myself using it an awful lot on future projects. Since I was in the plane rejuvenating mood, I decided to have a first crack at the wooden Sorby I mentioned a few posts ago.


20150605_174952The plane body is quite dirty and will need to be cleaned up a little with linseed oil and steel wool, but for now I decided to confine myself to getting it to take a decent shaving. I began by flattening the sole – a much simpler process that with an iron bodied plane. Using my winding sticks I could not discern any noticeable twist, so I simply planed down to bare wood and checked for flatness with a straight edge. I will have to oil the sole in due course but I’ll leave that for later.

20150605_175628Next, onto the iron. It was in a pretty sorry state indeed, all chipped and gnarly. It took quite a long time and a lot of elbow grease to get a decent edge on it, but we got there in the end. The mouth of the plane has obviously been widened at some point, and whoever did it seems to have been in an awful hurry. Having said that, it is difficult to imagine an emergency that would necessitate such a travesty as this. Shame on them. I may have to install what I believe are commonly termed as ‘throat closers’ at some point, but that too will have to wait for another time.

20150605_19034120150605_190803With the plane taking a fair shaving it was mission accomplished, and I must say that using a wooden plane feels entirely different to what I am used to – which shouldn’t really have come as a big surprise now that I think about it, but it did nonetheless. Anyway, I began thinking about a homemade plane. I have thought about this before and discounted it as being out of my skill range at the moment, but I recently came across the notion of what is sometimes called a transitional plane – that is, a plane made predominately from wood, but with a metal frog assembly.

20150605_222849I have a few non-woodwork related jobs to do at the moment, so this is very much a project for a couple of months hence, but there is no harm in doing a little prep-work. I have some reasonably straight-grained iroko pieces that are approximately the right size for what I have in mind, but it occurred to me that a prototype in softwood might be in order. I did a bit of research and discovered that Paul Sellers had covered this in a blog post a while ago. He made a prototype as well, but he did not provide any measurements so I’d have to wing it.

20150607_215001So, in a spare half hour, I knocked up this ugly little duckling, the dimensions of which are loosely based on a #5 Jack Plane. I used a spare frog and knackered iron from a #4 plane that were surplus to requirements. The iron is not very sharp and the mouth of the plane is probably a tad wide, but it still managed to make a few dodgy shavings. I think I will need to cut the frog down, so that the lower part of the iron is supported by the wooden body, but I’m fairly confident that it will work. I might end up putting a camber on the iron and using it as a scrub plane.


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