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Posts tagged wooden plane
Wooden small smoothers, oh my!

There has been some buzz on a couple of blogs talking about the use of smaller smoothers. It’s been a long time since I’ve used 4’s and 4-1/2’s in my shop and the reasons are many. I like a small smoother because it’s nimble and easy to control. When I’m smoothing surfaces,I find the work goes quicker with a small plane. In the case of larger surfaces like table tops or case sides, I can be spending a bit of time with a smoother in my hands. For this reason I’m not a big fan of heavy smoothers either. I get that heavy smoothers have more momentum in use but I have plenty of weight to put behind a plane so I find they are just extra weight to throw around. 

Small bevel-up smoother, mahogany and rosewood smoother.

Small bevel-up smoother, mahogany and rosewood smoother.

My favorite smoothers are wooden ones if I’m being honest. Ever since I was a student at Rosewood Studio and learned how to make them, I've found them to be pretty darn awesome. Only until recently though, did I get really proficient at setting them. During Woodworks 2014, plane maker Scott Meeks was in my shop and I asked him what the secret was to getting a hammer-set plane working well. His advice was to put my metal planes away for a month and only use the wood ones. So that’s what I did…and funny thing, I got pretty good at it. Go figure. 

I like wooden smoothers because I get way more feedback from the plane. I can feel tiny spots of reversing grain through my hands and make subtle changes to my planing techniques to correct for it. The wooden sole of the plane also burnishes the surface that I’m working on, making it shine like a crazy diamond. 

This little fella is my favorite.

This little fella is my favorite.

In the end, I don’t think it matters if you use metal or wood-bodied planes, or large or small smoothers. I think a sharp blade and proper planing techniques will take you all sorts of places. Experiment with both sizes and body materials and go with what you like. There is no right or wrong here…your personal preference is the right choice for you.  

Do you have a preference already? Let me know what you use in your shop. 

To understand, you must do. - V 

Pinus strobus Hand Plane

I love wooden planes. I love making them and most of all I love the sound they make as they take shavings from wood. The other day I was experimenting with using softwood for the body of a Krenovian-style plane. At best guess I’ve made about 20 of this style of plane with the majority of them made from a tough wood of some type. Maple, sapele, rosewood and king wood to name a few but the other day I wondered about making a pine plane.

I apologize for the poor photo quality...here you see the bubinga sole.

Now obviously pine would not wear well so I soled the plane with an 1/8” of bubinga. I have also discovered that the hardest part about setting this style of plane for me is setting the wedge. I would constantly go back and forth between too heavy and too light of a cut, so to fix that I’m using a mechanical wedge in the form of an insert and screw. With this set up I can set the wedge and make the adjustments to the plane without having to worry about changing the setting while hammer setting the wedge. The plane adjusts in the same manner as any other adjuster-free plane - A few light hammer taps here and there gets you were you want to go.

Ignore the styling on this model...this was just an experiment.

The results the plane left behind were stellar. It was great performance with a nice lightweight body. I think weight is important for shooting but for smoothing and stock prep I’ve been leaning towards a lighter plane. This pine model is only 25% lighter than an all-bubinga plane so in the end you’re not losing that much weight.

I’m going to continue to experiment with this light weight version and use them more often to see how they last…I will keep you posted.

In order to understand, you must do. V