Try to see what you can’t see

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Here is a photo that says more with what it doesn’t show. But I like it so you get to see it. Here are three planes, 47.5 (or so) degrees, 55 degrees and 60 degrees (left to right). Two metal infills, one woodie (HNT Gordon), all have 1/4” irons bedded on wood, or mostly wood with metal (middle). No girlie man adjusters. So I was having a plane-off, pulling every piece of wood out of the piles and seeing if there are differences between them. Short answer, yes, lower angle takes less effort to push (or pull). But you knew that. Is one better than the others? No, they are just different. Depending on the wood, one will work better than the others. About the only other conclusion I have is the Gordon is a pain the butt to adjust compared to the others. I have a truly nasty to plane piece of purpleheart, and while I was finally able to get all three to plane with the grain (forget against the grain), the finish wasn’t very good. Scrapers and sand paper leave a better finish (the stretchers on this bench, the rest is a joy to plane) . After that bit of frustration, I pulled out a chunk of mahogany just to have some fun. Planed with the grain, against the grain, forwards, backwards, upside down, behind my back, the planes worked great. About the only conclusion I can draw is a nick in the iron will split the shaving (middle).

The untold story is twofold. The amount of screwing around I did to get the planes adjusted for the photo shoot. Quite a bit more effort than plugging in the ROS. Then again, I usually don’t do much adjusting when I grab a plane and use it.

shavingsThe funny part (to me anyway) was after I took the photo and finished patting myself on the back about how well these “fancy” smoothing planes worked, I went “hmmm, I wonder how other planes work”? In a word, great. I tried Stanley Baileys, Bedrocks, shoulder planes, low angle planes; basically everything on the Wall-O-Planes (except the block planes, forgot). The only one that had problems was the Sargent 407 (#2 sized), which, in general, has issues but is too cute to put in a box on a shelf somewhere. Lesson,: this photo doesn’t tell you anything about how “great” these planes are compared to old iron. However, I have lots of woods where there isn’t any comparison: these planes do, Stanley’s don’t (but I bet Varitas or LN would).

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