Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Infernal smoothing plane obsession. Or, 7.5 years later.

It seems I've gone through a smoothing plane growth spurt lately. I'm still settling the collection out after this summer's discussion of the Kato/ Kawai chip breaker study. Two infill planes came screaming into my favorites list after lingering for years. And today, I had the thought to revisit my Japanese planes.

The chamfer plane was first, and was the banana peel that got this afternoon's ridiculousness under way. (This, after I had to reset jointer knives this morning.) The blade was in rough shape, and I remember reading about the blade preserving effect of a properly set chip breaker.

Given, sharpening always gives the most and best improvements, but I figured I'd try the chip breaker out, too, since the plane did come with one. Once it was set, the plane handled grain reversals in soft maple very, very easily. Second banana peel...

My Japanese smoothing plane hasn't really been used much since I bought it for a class 7.5 years ago. But after my success with the chamfer plane, I pulled it out of the storage closet, and re-installed the chip breaker pin.

Once all of the parts were sharpened and tuned, I set about re-acquainting myself with the plane. It took some time to get used to hammer-adjusting the chip breaker separately from the blade. But within half an hour, I was taking sub-thou shavings, easily. And I also came to understand that the chip breaker doubles as a wedge to really lock up the plane, once it's properly set. The other side effect of this is that a more tightly held blade moves in smaller increments when it's hit with the hammer. Finer adjustments are never a bad thing...

So, the Japanese plane is going in the drawer with my other actively used planes. That makes 7 smoothing planes. I seriously have a problem. Is there a 12-step program for hand plane junkies?

I bet Chris Schwarz would know...

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