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Clifton No 3

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Chris Knight

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Not really a review this but a few words on my latest toy (it arrived one day after my new TS4010!). I had ordered it at the Ally Pally show where I had tried both it and the 4 1/2 but since I felt that the 4 1/2 was a bit too close to my existing 4s, 5s and 5 1/2s to be really justifiable, I went for the smaller one.

I am EXTREMELY impressed with the plane. It cut well right out of the box which is my usual test for a manufacturers attention to detail. When I embarked on the usually obligatory tune-up I was really impressed. The sole was dead flat according to an engineer's straight edge, (I did not bother bueing up a surface plate to check this but I checked across several angles with the straight edge and feeler gauges). The frog was flat - again, no attention needed and the blade needed only a half dozen swipes on my finest stone to make it razor sharp.

Planing a bit of soft maple I keep handy for testing planes was a delight. The plane conveys a tremendous feeling of solidity and the compact size of the No. 3 lends it the feeling of a precision instrument - heck you could do brain surgery with this one!

It is the first Clifton I have bought - most of my other users are LNs and I have to say it is every bit as good as any of my LNs. I have no idea if this kind of quality is maintained across the range but I am over the moon on this particular plane. As far as value for money goes, this has to be the bargain of the century.

Sorry Tom, my next plane is going to be that Clifton 4 1/2! (BTW, at the show, I liked the way the 4 1/2 on display worked, even better than the 3)
 
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Anonymous

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Any reason why you chose a #3? Seems an odd choice - bit small, isn't it? How's it in the hand?
 

Chris Knight

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Esp,

The plane I use most often is a 5 1/2 - in fact I have two of them! One (a LN) is set for a very fine cut and I use it for lots of things including finishing large flat surfaces, the other (a Stanley I got off ebay which I then reconditioned - but it's a great plane) is set rather rank and I use it on plywood edges mainly, or simply when I want to take a lot of wood off in a hurry. However there are times when I want a shorter or narrower plane. I have a Record 4. which was the very first plane I ever bought (in 1965!) which is also set for a very fine cut and works well. It is both shorter and narrower than the 5 1/2s but equally it's a bit bigger than the 3. I justified the Clifton to myself on the grounds that I wanted to have a quality plane at around the size of the 4 and whilst I really wanted a LN low angle 4, I had not been able to stretch even my well-honed justification muscles this far. The Clifton solved my dilemma by being both the right kind of size and cheaper than the LN.

I have average sized hands ( I take "large" in gloves - which I reckon is average!) and can use the No. 3 with my usual three fingers - the index finger resting alongside the frog. It is a little tighter than my other planes, though not by much, only a fraction really. If I had to use it all day, I would make another tote.

The 3. is a very useful plane for finishing work. Think in terms of a large block plane that is easy to hold and you start to appreciate its charms.
 
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