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Try-plane with lead in its nose

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Dr W

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Newb here so apologies if this is something obvious but I wanted opinions on a wooden plane I bought at the w/e which has a lead weighted nose.

The plane in question is a 22" wooden try plane that I found in a Hastings junk shop on Saturday for the princely sum of 3 quid. Would have been rude not to, so I struggled home with it in my rucksack. No obvious maker's mark showing and it was thickly encrusted in places with nasty sticky black gunk (more 'pitch' than 'patina'). Also had a wobbly handle and a loose throat repair patch - but otherwise felt generally sound and surprisingly heavy. I've been wanting one this size as a 'user' rather than a display-piece, so decided to scrape and sand off the crud and see what was underneath.

Nurse_Pre.jpg


Once I started cleaning up the nose, made two discoveries - partial maker's mark and address (Charles Nurse & Co at 182 & 184 Walworth Rd, which dates it firmly to 1887-1908) - and a perfect circle of lead, smack in the middle. Closer inspection revealed that two little shiny spots on the top were not nails as I thought but more lead. Presumably, at some point in it's history, the previous owner of this plane (M C Baker) drilled a ~3/4" hole a few inches into the nose, plus a couple of small air-escape holes in the top, and then poured molten lead in to make it heavier.

Nurse_LeadNose.jpg

Nurse_detail.jpg


I can only assume Mr Baker wanted a heavier plane for some reason (it weighs around 6.5 pounds) - but why? Was this trick with the lead a common practice? Not something I've seen before - but then again, my experience is limited. It was certainly a well used tool and the previous owner may have been a bit 'toe-heavy' in his technique judging by the wear; the body is about 3/4" deeper at the heel than at the toe (which raises the possibility he weighted the front to restore the plane's balance?)

Anyway, it's cleaned up a treat. The Marples Hibernia iron is in remarkably good condition and nice & thick. It was previously ground to around 40 degrees, so I reground to nearer 25 then sharpened & stropped as best I can. Needs a little more fettling but cuts beautifully already. Only thing still left to do is to re-glue the throat insert and flatten the sole, then it should be good for a few more years. Not bad for 3 quid and a little elbow grease. Incidentally, the TATHs website has a copy of the 1902 Charles Nurse & Co catalogue, which shows this model on pages 77-78 as "Trying Plane No. 684" plane, which retailed for 7/- (nearly 2 days wages for a London carpenter at the time.)

Nurse_cleaned.jpg
 

Droogs

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The fact that the iron was ground at 40 deg is a big hint that along with the extra weight this plane was modified to face off very gnarly exotic boards. Think big slabs of burr etc, the high angle and weight help tame difficult multi directional grain. Think making the below without any electrickery or a tailed apprentice:



1619082757643.png



I would have though it may have a fairly tight mouth as well but htat may have worn a bit
 

Adam W.

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Ah, the tight mouth topic.

Wooden planes don't need a tight mouth as the cap iron limits breakout when it is set correctly.

Shall I go on ?

Nice plane btw, and a very nice table. Did you make it yourself?
 
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Jacob

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They all eventually wear more at the nose end and keep having new mouth inserts added - sometimes cut into the previous one. The mouths get battered - a tight mouth wouldn't last long - I doubt it'd ever be a consideration.
 

Dr W

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Oh 'eck - before it all starts kicking off... Let me just add that with the current throat insert and the blade properly set, the mouth clearance is around 3.5 mm - so not especially tight. Though of course there's no telling what it was then the insert was first inserted :censored:

Thanks fellas - I could certainly buy the argument about the weight and blade angle helping with 'well figured' grain.
 

JohnPW

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The fact that the iron was ground at 40 deg is a big hint that along with the extra weight this plane was modified to face off very gnarly exotic boards. Think big slabs of burr etc, the high angle and weight help tame difficult multi directional grain.
That might be the case for a bevel up plane but it's a bevel down plane, the iron bevel doesn't change the effective pitch of the plane which is fixed by the bed angle. The sole at the toe being more worn will increase the pitch slightly (couple of degrees?) but I would have thought that's just natural wear, not a modification.
 

Cheshirechappie

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I've never heard of a wooden plane with added weight before. A 22" try plane is quite heavy anyway; it's hard to see any advantage to more weight.

Longer infills are notoriously heavy, and some people hold them in very high regard for their capabilities in tricky timbers. I wonder if this is a misguided experiment - the notion that adding weight will make it perform more like a long infill? It won't - but possibly the experimenter didn't realise that before they started.
 

JohnPW

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Maybe it's strike button? But they're usually on the top of the toe, or the back end at the heel.
 

thetyreman

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my krenov plane has a mouth that's 1/4000ths of an inch, it's great for figured woods and exotics, I think it does make a difference and beg to differ.
 

JohnPW

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Back to the topic of the lead, maybe it's to make the front end heavier?

Anyone is welcome to start a new thread on mouth width if they want.
 

Cheshirechappie

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Like buses - don't see one for yonks, then two come along at once.

OK - what's the extra weight for?
 

D_W

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my krenov plane has a mouth that's 1/4000ths of an inch, it's great for figured woods and exotics, I think it does make a difference and beg to differ.
400th?

I made a 55 degree infill years ago with a 4 thousandth mouth. It works, but can only do one thing and needs sharpening often.

I tried the same principle on heavier shaving planes and the closed mouth isn't effective. It's a tactic for smoothers only. Even on an infill destined to take 5-6 thousandth shavings with a 100th of an inch mouth, tearout was a problem.
 

thetyreman

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400th?

I made a 55 degree infill years ago with a 4 thousandth mouth. It works, but can only do one thing and needs sharpening often.

I tried the same principle on heavier shaving planes and the closed mouth isn't effective. It's a tactic for smoothers only. Even on an infill destined to take 5-6 thousandth shavings with a 100th of an inch mouth, tearout was a problem.
yes 4000ths not 400, it's a smoother so only used for the final surface, the results speak for themselves, no tearout at all, it's also 55 degrees and has a hock iron.
 

Dr W

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JohnPW - thanks for posting that other example. Insert looks exactly the same, even though it's a totally diff type of plane. Obviously adding weight was 'a thing' at some point in the 20th century, and not just a one off barmy idea. I just wish the guy who did my plane had added weight to the back as well as I'm finding the toe-heavy balance a bit weird!
(ps. I also thought about the striking-knob idea but wouldn't make much sense in the centre of the nose - not an obvious place to hit to adjust the blade, and even if it were then using one of the softest available metals would be a bad idea)
 

D_W

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yes 4000ths not 400, it's a smoother so only used for the final surface, the results speak for themselves, no tearout at all, it's also 55 degrees and has a hock iron.
1/4000th wouldn't pass a shaving.

4 thousandths will pass a shaving of about 2 thousandths before friction and bending of the shaving around the mouth becomes troublesome.

1 hundredth or slightly above as mentioned above will plane about 5-6 hundredths before there is a lot of resistance from bending the shaving around a mouth, but while 4 thousandths will eliminate most tearout at 2, the second figure at around triple the mouth and shaving size won't eliminate tearout, but setting the cap will with much less planing resistance.

I think krenov did most of his woodworking with machine tools, and the planes are a draw for folks because they create two something for nothing notions:
1) that you can make a plane that's better than a stanley (which isn't the case - a stanley 4 is a far better plane, but one has to learn to use the cap iron)
2) that you can change some aspects that weren't in widely used planes professionally and be more enlightened, and potentially close to free


The trouble with that type of plane (tight mouth, high pitch) is that it works pretty much on a surface that's almost finished already. A stanley 4 works about 5 times as fast meaning it can get the surface to that point and then finish it, and a stanley 4 can do it with a setting that will take a shaving from about 5 thousandths to almost nothing with no considerable tearout for any (shavings below about 2 thousandth tend to have no beam strength and below 1, almost nothing - even the worst woods - have a tendency to tear out. The cap lets you blast off the wood, back off and get that thin shaving without doing anything else).

That said, if you have machines that get right next to use of a krenov plane, then it's almost as good as a stanley in that context. It took me 80 hours to make my infill. I made it knowing that it would only take thin smoother shavings, but it's just not very productive in actual use. Even if that's after a tearout free machine planer - it takes a lot of strokes to remove the planer chatter and crushed fibers whereas something like a stanley will take one or two passes with a heavier shaving and one with a thinner one (the latter usually done later).

practical shaving thickness (in terms of sharpness and clearance) starts around 3 ten thousandths of an inch. That's an impractical thickness to use, but by that, I mean if you use a small-abrasive sharpening routine and a hard iron, you can get a shaving around that thickness with regularity. Just not for long before you have to resharpen again. Increasing the pitch of the iron accelerates how often the sharpening needs to occur.
 

D_W

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In regard to the OP's plane, I don't think there was an ulterior motive other than that the user wanted more weight. If this were an 8 pound plane made to 10, I'd guess differently, but 6.5 pounds after addition of lead is still on the lower side for what I've seen of try planes. Low weight is great for softwoods. Move to medium hardwoods and a 5 1/2 or 6 pound try plane will batter your elbows a lot more than one a bit heavier, and on the other end, a 10 pound plane will feel too heavy. 6 1/2-8 pounds seems to be the sweet spot.

if anyone is thinking of adding weight to a plane, it's easier to block the mouth, scrape the finish off of the ends (so that air and oil can move through the plane) and pour the mortise full of linseed oil. A dry plane will absorb an entire mortise full quickly and it'll flow through and to the ends overnight (this is beech - never did it with anything else).

the blocking can be a very tightly stuffed rag or something like a soft putty that doesn't dry and stick to the plane. I've added a pound to several planes doing this and am fairly sure by weight of some planes, gotten old planes that were heavily oiled this way. The nice thing is the weight tends to be further back vs. inserting a weight at one end or another.
 

Droogs

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I didn't say it would be any good. It was a suggestion based on all the claptrap about needing super high angles and thin mouths and lots of weight to work gnarly woods in the various woodworking media at the turn of the century. To me basically to help sell all the new designer planes with foot thick irons etc because a Bailey design couldn't plane exotics even though the evidence sitting in museums said otherwise.
 
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