Long wooden plane

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  • #677904
    Stewart Perry
    Participant

    I’ve often thought about getting a jointer plane – the largest plane I have at the moment is a Stanley 5 1/2 and I use it all the time. However Paul Sellers does not recommend larger metal planes as he says they go out-of-flat over time.

    I noticed a long wooden plane serving as an ornament in my local (see pictures). I think the landlord would sell it to me at a fair price (I’m a good customer!), however I’ve never owned a wooden plane so I’m wondering if it is viable for restoration to working order. I can see that it has been well used – the top of the iron is curled over from hammer blows, and it looks like the sole in front of the mouth has been replaced at some point. The sole looks quite flat to me.

    I could not find any makers marks, although there is about 1/8″ of dust on it at the moment. There are some marks in the ends but I think they are owners’ stamps.

    I’m not a collector so I’m only interested in getting a working tool. Any thoughts about how restorable it is? Also what kind of money does a plane in that condition change hands for?

    Any advice much appreciated…

    Stu - Surrey, UK

    #677912
    Colin Scowen
    Participant

    Looks similar to one I have. My old man picked it up for a tenner at a bike meet a few years ago. Makers mark was in one end, first owners mark in teh other. The blade may also have a makers mark on it, and if that matches the body, you have a reasonable set.
    Make sure the wedge comes free and have a look at the business end of the iron. Also, check that it has a cap iron. Checking the sole for flat and fixing it is easy enough.
    If you get on well with the landlord, just ask him if you can borrow it for a weekend, to give you a chance to clean it up and examine it. If it looks viable, offer to make him something with it to take it’s place on the shelf.
    There is a vid on this from Paul, but I don’t remember if it is on WWMC, or on youtube.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

    #677914
    Sven-Olof Jansson
    Participant

    Dear Stewart,

    The mouths of older wooden planes can at times be quite wide, and might need to be attended to; their soles probably too.

    Mr P. Sellers’s statement on long metal planes going out of flat over time could perhaps be questioned a little when it comes to contemporary high quality products. There are at least two well-known furniture makers (one knighted and the other in California – I can’t remember the name of either) who allegedly used a #7 metal plane for all their hand planing. Furthermore, there are quite a lot of other recognised woodworkers/furniture makers who use jointer planes in their videos. Finally, and this is anecdotal data; my own Clifton #7 has seen regular use over the last 12 years. The attached photo shows it upside down with a one metre long straight edge (DIN 874/2, flat to < 33 uM) along its sole, under which a 25 µM (“a thou of an inch”) can’t be passed. With regard to those who have claimed an accuracy and precision of 0.001″ in their woodworking, I find it interesting that feeler gauge bends under its own weight.

    Dieter Schmid Fine Tools in Germany sells long wooden planes.

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    #677963
    YrHenSaer
    Participant

    The important parts are missing in the photos….. the sole and the Iron, so it’s impossible to say how much life is in that plane. It would probably work if you could warrant the time needed.
    As Sven said, older wooden planes are often well-worn by the time that we get hold of them and the mouths are sometimes too wide for accurate work due to the sole being planed and flattened many times over their working lives. The answer was usually to ‘re-mouth’ the plane. This involved cutting a section out of the sole in front of the mouth and inlaying a new section of wood, allowing a new, closed mouth section to be made. If you can do this, fine, the world’s full of old planes, but it does need accurate cutting skills.

    The Japanese had a different solution to sole maintenance, but that’s for another day.

    I also have a Clifton No 7 that’s even older…. one of the first that they made in the early 90s and it has been used and has worn (or not) extremely well over the years.
    If a plane body flexes enough to affect the cut, then you need a decent quality plane more than anything else. Any movement in a good quality casting is likely to be un-measurable and irrelevant in woodworking terms – besides, if your blade is properly sharp downward pressure is not necessary to ensure a decent cut.

    As far as Jointer-planes are concerned…. No 7s and No 8s – the secret is in the name.They are intended principally for jointing board edges prior to gluing using the rub method….and there is more than one school of thought on whether they need to be absolutely straight……. there’s always the use of jointers dogs where you do need a bow in the middle, so there’s no need for a long plane in these cases………. Alternatively, I don’t see a role for long planes like that in flattening boards; planes like a No 4 or 5 are surely good enough. The extra length just gets in the way.

    #678004
    Stewart Perry
    Participant

    Thanks all. I meant to include a photo of the sole earlier – see attached. As I mentioned, the sole in front of the mouth has already been replaced at least once. Nevertheless the mouth looks a bit wide to me. I don’t think I’ll be able to disassemble the thing in the pub as it is quite dirty, so Colin’s suggestion of borrowing it is the only option for a good look at the iron and other internals.

    Regarding the point about what long planes are actually useful for – it’s a fair question. Nowadays I find I can get pretty good results straightening and squaring the edges of boards with a 5 1/2. I guess I’m just curious to see if a longer plane makes that easier or better in some way. For flattening a board I would generally use scrub and jack planes to get it roughly flat and twist-free on one side, followed by a couple of passes through a lunchbox thickness planer, and finish with a smoothing plane.

    Stu - Surrey, UK

    #678039
    Colin Scowen
    Participant

    How long is the plane? The one I have is a trying plane (by the older texts definition, at 22 inches). Said older texts (a pdf version of Turning and mechanical manipulation Vol II from google books) would say that you should apply a jack plane, then a trying plane, then a smoother for flattening a board.
    So if this plane is a jack plane, and you already have a metal one, then this is an exercise in restoration and use of older tools, and if you can get the landlord to part with it at minimal cost, so much the better. (And they are lighter and easier to use over long periods.)
    Last time I went on HMS Belfast with the kids, the workshop area was the most interesting area for me, as there was a large set of wooden planes there.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

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