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The shiny plane of happiness

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AndyT

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If you are a woodworker with a bit of an interest in old tools, you find that you meet other people who feel the same way. It's nice to meet, chat, look over a collection and generally witter on about the sort of details that 99.99% of people don't care about. A harmless pleasure.

So it was that I made the acquaintance of a tool connoisseur of great good taste and discernment. I won't embarrass him by naming him on here, but I do want to say something about his extraordinary generosity. He has the knack of giving other people gifts that are just right, and really appreciated.

So it was that we got talking about a panel plane. It's unmarked, though the iron is by Mathieson and it has a distinctive Scottish look about it. He said it was a bargain, as it has some slight damage, but it's nothing that makes any difference to its performance. It looks just a little tired - but who wouldn't after more than a century?

He insisted on giving it to me, and I didn't refuse. I knew that he was right and that it will be a star performer.

This is it:



You can see that there's some superficial rust on the casting and on the iron. There's also a bit of a chip behind the mouth:




That won't matter to me at all.

The beech infills are in good condition and are beautifully curved.






But it's all there, waiting to be used, so I spent a pleasant while this afternoon tidying it up a little.

On the casting, I just gave it a once-over with a medium Garryflex block. These are great for removing rust while not making the steel look like it just came off a production line. It's hard to photograph to show the difference, but the side to the left has been done while the bit to the right has not.



And here you can see that I have done the top edge along the side, but it's still rusty at the toe.



After cleaning up the body, I gave the wooden parts a gentle clean with some reviver. I then used some Alfie Shine from my Secret Santa present. It smells lovely and goes on a treat. I omitted to photograph the tin and the cloth but you can take my word for it that I am also indebted to whichever generous forum member gave it to me. This plane is not going rusty any more.

And here's the result. Not radically different in appearance, but clean, smooth and ready for use.





You can see how well it works on this bit of old oak.





It's a really heavy, solid plane. I checked it on the kitchen scales and it weighs 7lb 13 oz (3.5kg) - as much as a healthy baby! I could just push it one handed, with no need to use the front grip if I didn't want to.

It makes me want to get on and make something - I've not had a decent project on the go for far too long.
I just need to find room in the workshop for one or two other little gifts first - but you'll have to wait to see them when they each get their turn at the bench! :D

Thanks again to my generous benefactors! =D> =D>
 

Rockford

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A generous gift and your sympathetic tidy up is exactly right. It still looks its age, but a bit happier about it!

Best wishes

Brian
 

toolsntat

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Well done Andy,
Very interesting plane and it maybe has quite some age to it.
Nothing behind the lever?
And what about that lever, so graceful, only to be crowned by a very stylish thumbscrew.
The handle, is it part of the rear infill?
Cheers Andy
 

marcros

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Nice to see that it will be used and enjoyed rather than sat on a collector's shelf.
 

MikeG.

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Yeah, yeah....but how did you sharpen it?

(hammer) (hammer) :lol:

Wonderful generosity, and the gentle clean up looks spot on to me. Tell me though, what makes it a panel plane? It looks just like any other small infill smoother, doesn't it?
 

IWW

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MikeG.":xv0zrq1w said:
...... Tell me though, what makes it a panel plane? It looks just like any other small infill smoother, doesn't it?....
Good question! I've yet to come across a clear definition of a 'panel plane' and what differentiates it from any other. Several sources say they range in size from around 12 inches in length to 18 or so, which puts them in the range of largish smoother to short jointer, but I've never seen anything described as being unique to panel planes. Mine has a 14 inch sole & if it hadn't been called a panel plane, I'd probably describe it as a very muscular smoother!

I'm far from an expert on infills, but I get the feeling that it's not a factory job. The infill just doesn't look like anything I've seen that Mathieson or Spiers made - my guess is it's an owner-finished casting. The tapered blade isn't ideal with a lever-cap, but you've obviously got it working.

But it's certainly a lovely old thing, with its own secret history, and if it brings you half as much pleasure to use as my somewhat larger PP gives me, you've done very well for yourself indeed!
:)
Cheers,
IW
 

AndyT

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Thanks everyone for the nice comments. I'm clearly not the only one who appreciates a quality old plane like this!


toolsntat":3n7vbay6 said:
Nothing behind the lever?
And what about that lever, so graceful, only to be crowned by a very stylish thumbscrew.
The handle, is it part of the rear infill?
Cheers Andy
I've had another look, but can't see any names or anything.
The lever cap is actually a hollow casting, as I hope this awkward photo shows:



I think the handle is a separate piece to the rest of the infill. Here's another close-up from behind, showing a layout line disappearing under it:



Here you can see saw marks on the front of the handle piece, which would be chisel marks if it had been from one piece. As it is, it's a convenient way to make a tidy space for the cap iron screw.



And here you can see a bit of a gap under the handle part:




MikeG.":3n7vbay6 said:
Yeah, yeah....but how did you sharpen it?
I rubbed the iron on an abrasive surface until it was just right! Frankly Mike I'm surprised you don't know how to do this. Perhaps you could start a thread and ask the best way? :wink:

MikeG.":3n7vbay6 said:
Tell me though, what makes it a panel plane? It looks just like any other small infill smoother, doesn't it?
Panel plane is a term used, I think, mostly by Scottish makers to designate metal planes bigger than smoothers but smaller than jointers. They generally have a "cushion" at the front and a closed handle.

For example, the 1899 Mathieson catalogue listed wrought steel panel planes from 11½" long up to 16½" and then jointing planes from 20½" up to 26½". Both styles were offered with a 2½" or 2 5/8" iron. These were of dovetailed construction, where mine is a casting, but they are superficially similar.
Sizes 14½" and up have the extra bits on the sole at each end.

This one is 14½" long with the wider 2 5/8" iron.

IWW":3n7vbay6 said:
I'm far from an expert on infills, but I get the feeling that it's not a factory job. The infill just doesn't look like anything I've seen that Mathieson or Spiers made - my guess is it's an owner-finished casting. The tapered blade isn't ideal with a lever-cap, but you've obviously got it working.
I think you are right. The extra photos show some minor glitches that I think wouldn't be there on a professionally made job, but I do like the style of the sweeping moulding, which is neatly done. I've seen pictures of similar styling somewhere, but can't remember where.
 

Hattori-Hanzo

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What a lovely gift, I bet its seen some work over the years.

Nicely restored too Andy I bet its a pleasure to use.
 

CHJ

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Interesting that someone took the time to complete a working tool with some salutation to aesthetic lines but did not bother to clean up sawn surfaces that were not readily visible.

Perhaps someone who needed a 'worker' in short order rather than a purist.
 

AndyT

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CHJ":m506rr7j said:
Interesting that someone took the time to complete a working tool with some salutation to aesthetic lines but did not bother to clean up sawn surfaces that were not readily visible.

Perhaps someone who needed a 'worker' in short order rather than a purist.
Agreed. To be fair, the camera macro setting shows up things that don't look so obvious in normal use and cleaning up that sawcut would have been a bit like planing a tenon before hiding it inside a mortice.
 

IWW

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CHJ":2q7x1b68 said:
Interesting that someone took the time to complete a working tool with some salutation to aesthetic lines but did not bother to clean up sawn surfaces that were not readily visible.

Perhaps someone who needed a 'worker' in short order rather than a purist.
Chas, I'd guess that plane was finished sometime back in the day when woodworkers didn't fuss too much over out-of-sight details. My Norris A5 has saw-marks under the handle, where most never look. It's a 'late' model, made long after Tom had departed the scene, so maybe standards had slipped.

Andy, I also like the lines of the rear infill (I would've made the handle lean forward a bit more, and given it a more oval cross-section, but I'm influenced by Yankee tastes :wink: ), but the way the side cheeks are moulded is very appealing. I'm not so fussed on the front bun, it looks a bit mawkish to my eyes. Once upon a time I might've been a vandal & ripped it out & replaced it, but thankfully, I've matured enough to appreciate someone else's idea of what infill should look like.

From my limited experience I take it the rear infill was more often made with the handle as a separate piece, which slides into a slot in the blade-bed/side cheek piece. When I made my first infill, I hadn't sen the guts of early examples & made my rear stuffing from 3 pieces, a handle centre-piece and two "cheeks", like this:
Infill for pl 2.jpg


I wonder if the 'old' way was because they didn't trust glue to hold up in that situation for the long haul? By making the blade bed as a single piece and only cutting a slot out for the tongue of the handle (which is usually affixed by a through-rivet or two), you avoid the worry of delamination wrecking your blade bed.

I expect the epoxy glue I used to hang on in my lifetime, but I've lived long enough now to know that any glue is likely to fail eventually. So, barring fires or other extreme disasters, somewhere down the track, someone like you might have the fun of fixing a few more user-made planes... :)
b.jpg


Cheers,
 

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Lons

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I know almost nothing about planes, never heard off a panel plane but I absolutely love that, it has real character. Hats off to you for keeping that intact.
 

Osvaldd

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Its a beauty, Andy. Infill planes are very pricey as far as I can tell. Curious how does it compare to bailey pattern planes, would you use it as your go to jack?
 

AndyT

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Osvaldd":4vik5we8 said:
Its a beauty, Andy. Infill planes are very pricey as far as I can tell. Curious how does it compare to bailey pattern planes, would you use it as your go to jack?
No, I think it will be more like a large smoother. I'll keep it set up to take fine shavings only.

It's partly about having a "best" plane, also something about the weight of this one. I'll try some practical experiments, but I think it would be too tiring to use for dimensioning.
 

D_W

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It may cause some fatigue in long use with the handle as upright as it is. I use an infill sometimes as the penultimate plane when dimensioning, but the casting and especially the steel type tend to be very sticky on wood.

I experimented with handle sizes and angles when I first started making planes and found that the handle angle on most planes that feel the best in extended use tends to be similar.

Not that it's a necessity to adjust anything.
 
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