Are You Suffering From Smoothing Plane Bloat?


Among the many smoothing planes that Stanley Works made (which
consists of the Nos. 1 to Four), the corporate offered much more No. 4s
than every other measurement, in line with Stanley collectors.

That was my rationale for purchasing a No. Four a few years in the past. I
nonetheless suppose it’s a very good measurement for a handplane, with a
9-1/2”-long sole and a couple of”-wide iron, which lets you use the
iron within the No. 5 jack in a pinch.

Like many late-20th-century woodworkers, I additionally tried for a
time the No. Four-1/2, which is wider and longer than all of the
different smoothing planes. That software wore me out. Not due to
the additional weight per se, however as a result of I needed to easy
panels much more to get into the minute hollows and to take away
tear-out there. Its huge sole needs to journey the excessive factors of a

Throughout the previous couple of years, I’ve felt the pull of even smaller
planes. I attempted a No. three. It was quicker than my No. Four. Then I
tried the No. 1, but it surely doesn’t have a lateral-adjust lever, a
characteristic I’m keen on.

So I’m working with a No. 2 now (right here
find out how to arrange its again iron).

And although you may suppose I’m a bit cracked, I believe loads of
deceased woodworkers would agree with my method. I first acquired
this notion years in the past throughout my first tour of John Sindelar’s
software assortment. His once-immense assortment had metallic and
wooden-bodied planes from each period, from the 16th century to
the current.

With so many a whole bunch of examples earlier than me, I used to be struck by
how small the early smoothing planes had been (and the way lengthy the
jointers had been). A fast evaluation of W.L. Goodman’s “The Historical past
of Woodworking Instruments” confirms my suspicions, with early
smoothing planes usually being 7” or eight” lengthy.


Is there a distinction in a airplane that’s 1” or 2” shorter and
half” narrower? I positive suppose so.

The opposite query I get about this method goes one thing
like this: “Wait, should you’ve used a jointer airplane to flatten a
panel, then shouldn’t any smaller airplane instantly have the ability to
airplane all factors on the floor?”

Whereas that’s usually a real assertion, it doesn’t mirror
how I work. I exploit a jointer airplane on surfaces that need to be
flat – edges of panels and the interiors of casework panels
(that’s the place the joinery goes). In terms of the skin
of a case piece or a tabletop, it has to solely look flat – not
be flat.

So I’ll go from a machine thicknesser straight to a small
smoothing airplane. This leap permits me to get a panel dressed and
prepared for end in only a few strokes.

Now I simply want to change the tote of my No. 2 to see if I can
get it to work just like the tote for a No. 2-sized airplane from
Millers Falls. That ought to enable me to carry the No. 2 with a
number of grips. I don’t have any cherry in my wooden racks, so
it appears to be like like I’m going to be utilizing some teak scraps for the
tote and knob.

— Christopher Schwarz

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