“The rails be trimmed fair and fettled to size with smoothness ‘neath my wood sole” 

Well, friends, it’s a fair test though not truly scientific. I tested a series of equally lengthed planes including #4s, #4 1/2s. #5s and #5 1/2s to true the flat faces and edges of my Hope-chest rails, which measure 7/8″ thick, 3 1/2″ wide and 34″ long in oak.

My results qualify all of them as essential including Stanley 4s and 4 1/2s, Record 4s and 4 1/2s, Veritas 4 1/2, Woden 4 and 4 1/2, Sorby 51/2, Veritas Jack plane, Stanley 5 1/2. I also used low angle bevel ups in the trial. I will be extolling the virtues of all in the book, but what I have learned through this very specific testing and trial is that there is no one size fits all.


The planes that proved easiest to use for working rough stock were the #4 and #5 Bailey pattern planes; with some special tweaks and adaptations. For absolute truing, the Veritas #4 1/2 and the low angle jack. The other planes mentioned were wonderful on different grains. Amazing, in fact.

I used the word essential above for different reasons, some for lightness, some for flatness, some for adaptability and some for weight. Adjustability was essential as was accuracy of setting.

For running my grooves, I again used the Veritas plough plane. I like certain qualities in the plane, especially its unfaltering, vibration-free negotiation in the oak as I ploughed forward, often in some pretty rough and tough grain patterns. Who said when the going gets tough the tough get going. I doubt whether anyone has worked this plane as hard as I have on this project in the last few days.

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