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Anyone use a transitional plane as a daily user?

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ED65

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I was mainly curious how many have one as they're so much rarer over here, but I suppose the real question is whether owners think they make decent enough users to be daily drivers or their main value is as attractive additions to the tools on the wall :D

The depth wheel turning opposite to normal is something that I could get used to (I already have a repaired no. 4 that the owner subbed in a right-threaded bolt) and I quite like the idea of the wood-on-wood thing but with the easier adjustment we're used to on Bailey-pattern planes. On the other hand there's a lot of hate for these out there and I'm not sure if it's primarily about the depth adjustment.
 

Chris Knight

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I wasted a fair bit of time getting one into semi-usable condition. The sole needed plenty of work including a new mouth but it was the metal bits that caused me most grief. I forget the make of the plane but it was probably a bad plane from the start as nothing seemed well manufactured and all the filing and building up bits here and there with plastic metal to get the thing reasonably true and operating smoothly, only went so far. The blade was a disaster zone but I decided that in the end, there was no reasonable way of getting a new blade to fit. It was only ever a bit of an experiment and the cost was trivial; I felt no remorse when I chucked it in the bin.

I did like the wood on wood smoothness but nothing else. If you can find, or have one where the metal bits are all in good nick, it's probably worth your time to fettle it to your satisfaction. In hindsight, I would prefer a nice toted woody.
 

AndyT

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I've got two planes that could be called transitionals.

This is the first one, from the American Union company, about 120 years old. This is how it was when I bought it:



I was intrigued by the distinctive vertical adjustment mechanism, which works ok but is not quite as elegant as the Stanley/Bailey it was trying to compete with.

This thread shows how I put it back into working order.



It was an interesting exercise and produced a working, usable plane, but it's not one I reach for very often. Just to make plane choice even harder, it has a steel sole, which was an option across the Union range.

This is the other - again, a neglected basket case when I bought it



but it soon came back to life, as described here.



It's an unusual closed handle variant of the 1960s Marples design, using a modified Stanley style frog mounted in a glued-up wooden body.

This one does get used a fair bit - it's a pleasant, light weight plane of reasonable size with an effective depth adjustment.

To be fair to the designers of these two, if either one was my only jack plane, it'd get used more often. My recommendation to any beginner would be to get a Stanley or Record 5½ and an older wooden jack of about 17" with a properly cambered iron and a wide mouth. That's the ideal tool for cleaning up salvaged wood or reducing boards to the required thickness.

But if an interesting transitional comes your way, well, why not give it a whirl?
 

ED65

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Thanks for the replies so far gents.

Chris Knight":2emx2fnp said:
In hindsight, I would prefer a nice toted woody.
I think for a traditional jack or fore plane I'd agree. As there's not much call for adjustment of setting on one, certainly not fine adjustment of the type that can be fiddly on a woodie, there's not a lot of reason for looking any further than the very common and cheap-as-chips wooden jack or its slightly larger sibling.

AndyT":2emx2fnp said:
...American Union company, about 120 years old.... I was intrigued by the distinctive vertical adjustment mechanism, which works ok but is not quite as elegant as the Stanley/Bailey it was trying to compete with.
Thanks for the reminder of non-Stanley versions of the American ones, I was completely forgetting about those.

Nice restore of the British-style one! I had to clean up a jack that was painted black once, not a fun job even with a stripper that's worth its salt which I didn't have access to.
 

rxh

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The designs for these planes are by Robert Wearing and were published in The Woodworker magazine in 1961. The planes were made by my late father and I found them may years later and restored/completed them.
 

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thetyreman

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haven't used one but it'd be nice to have one just for final smoothing, I'd be concerned about wear on the sole just like a woody, and the mouth eventually being way too open.
 

ED65

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@rxh, those look very tidy! How do you find Wearing's adjuster in use? He was obviously fond of it but I've never had the chance to ask another user.

@thetyreman, not really an issue if you use the cap iron to full effect. Coffin smoothers found in the wild with large mouths (some very large indeed) and with irons honed straight across are a good early clue to how mouth size doesn't have to matter that much in a smoother. And equivalent performance from Bailey-pattern planes with mouths of various sizes is the proof of the pudding so to speak.
 

AndyT

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thetyreman":1euc6sv9 said:
haven't used one but it'd be nice to have one just for final smoothing, I'd be concerned about wear on the sole just like a woody, and the mouth eventually being way too open.
Some of these transitional planes are smoothers, where you'd want a reasonably small mouth, but plenty of them are jack planes.

Jack planes are for quick, efficient work in getting the wood close to straight, flat and the dimensions required. That means taking a thick shaving with a well cambered iron.

I just went to check the size of the mouth on my favourite jack plane. It's a woodie, by Preston, not a transitional but the same argument applies. It's old, but not worn down. There's about 10mm or 3/8" of space in front of the cutting edge.

I've not found this a problem at all - indeed, it means that the plane never chokes even if I'm taking off old paint from salvaged wood or planing from a rough sawn surface.
 

D_W

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AndyT":1ss058hz said:
thetyreman":1ss058hz said:
haven't used one but it'd be nice to have one just for final smoothing, I'd be concerned about wear on the sole just like a woody, and the mouth eventually being way too open.
Some of these transitional planes are smoothers, where you'd want a reasonably small mouth, but plenty of them are jack planes.

Jack planes are for quick, efficient work in getting the wood close to straight, flat and the dimensions required. That means taking a thick shaving with a well cambered iron.

I just went to check the size of the mouth on my favourite jack plane. It's a woodie, by Preston, not a transitional but the same argument applies. It's old, but not worn down. There's about 10mm or 3/8" of space in front of the cutting edge.

I've not found this a problem at all - indeed, it means that the plane never chokes even if I'm taking off old paint from salvaged wood or planing from a rough sawn surface.
I'd be curious to know if it was made as new like that. When I was on a planemaking bender, I acquired some unused or near unused jack planes and they always had a relatively tight mouth (not tight like a smoother, but never more than an eighth). Most of the well used planes that I've gotten had a much wider mouth - it's hard to tell if a plane was 1/4 inch thicker (taller) if it was neatly cared for.
 

rxh

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ED65":xyvzb72m said:
@rxh, those look very tidy! How do you find Wearing's adjuster in use? He was obviously fond of it but I've never had the chance to ask another user.
Thanks ED65. The smoothing plane has the Wearing adjuster - it works well but a minor drawback is that you turn the knob anticlockwise to advance the iron. A left handed thread on the shaft could correct this but left handed taps and dies do not seem to be available in very fine thread sizes (the shaft on my plane is threaded I/4" ME, 40 TPI, RH). The lateral adjuster is like the ones on Bailey style planes.
The jack plane has my version of a Norris style adjuster.
 

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D_W

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IN response to the original question, transitionals are around in droves here in the states. I tried to use one for dimensioning (two actually, plus a smoother) but they are just not ideal compared to the wooden planes or the stanley planes. The handles are kind of flimsy on some, the adjusters go reverse on some (not that big of a deal if it becomes your constant user), and in some cases (some of the smoothers and jacks) the adjusters are tucked in and very hard to get to).

Many have large mouths, but bed the iron on the wood and use the cap iron if needed.
 

AndyT

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D_W":11ntsuig said:
AndyT":11ntsuig said:
Jack planes are for quick, efficient work in getting the wood close to straight, flat and the dimensions required. That means taking a thick shaving with a well cambered iron.

I just went to check the size of the mouth on my favourite jack plane. It's a woodie, by Preston, not a transitional but the same argument applies. It's old, but not worn down. There's about 10mm or 3/8" of space in front of the cutting edge.

I've not found this a problem at all - indeed, it means that the plane never chokes even if I'm taking off old paint from salvaged wood or planing from a rough sawn surface.
I'd be curious to know if it was made as new like that. When I was on a planemaking bender, I acquired some unused or near unused jack planes and they always had a relatively tight mouth (not tight like a smoother, but never more than an eighth). Most of the well used planes that I've gotten had a much wider mouth - it's hard to tell if a plane was 1/4 inch thicker (taller) if it was neatly cared for.
David, rather than derail the topic of transitionals, I've replied in a fresh thread here:

jack-and-his-big-mouth-t120497.html
 
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