I could hardly wait to tell you of a blessing received just last week, but leaving for the show I had to put it aside until I could give it full measure of attention.
Some weeks ago a couple came by the New Legacy workshop here at Penrhyn Castle and we chatted for a while about woodworking, training the next generation and so on and so forth. As Terry and Judy were leaving they asked if I would be able to use some old hand tools and of course you know my answer. Well, we arranged to meet the day I was leaving for the North of England Woodworking Show and these are the tools they brought. Lots to look at, clean up and make ready for use/display in the shop and share with others.
As we talked about the tools my eyes fell unbelievingly onto a very specific plough (plow) plane they had brought because it was one that I had been looking for for a couple of years. Here you see a very lovely plane we call a handled, screw-stem plough plane made from beech and all still fully functioning. The plane was disassembled so I became a little concerned parts might be missing but within seconds I had it together and before you could say “plough plane” I was whisking off shavings like peeling potatoes with a peeler.
These were the first adjustable plow planes with micro adjustment in the screw-threaded stems. By turning the bulbous ‘nut’, repositioning the adjustment ring and retightening the nut again you have absolute rock solid locking in which there is no shift. Within the body itself is a depth adjustment the seats on the stock being planed as soon as it bottoms out so whatever depth you need you preset and this is what was used back in the 1800s and one that replaced the wedge stem plough planes of the 17-1800’s if you had the extra shilling to pay the very specialised maker.
Another aspect you might not understand the reasoning for is the handle of this plough. Not that you wouldn’t understand the handle, but the position of it in relation the body of the plane. Many of the old planes of this type were unhandled because of the extra work it takes to form the handles. But in using and comparing this tool with the unhandled versions something becomes very obvious. With the unhandled version the point of thrust is high up on the plane, right on the rear corner. This is fine most of the time, but when you start working on heavier more dense-grained woods, or even woods such as spruce, the cutter bites and tends to ‘trip’. This is primarily because of what I call centre of thrust or COT. COT means that you have equalled out any pressure to give co-equal force as much as is possible directly behind the cutting edge so that there is no shrinking back that causes uneven pressure mid thrust so as to result in stammer or stagger in the cut.
Without sharpening I assembled the plane and cut a perfect 3/8” wide groove in solid oak as you can see. Now in the mix of everything I want this plane to use in my new book and the DVD series to show that these planes were never abandoned because they didn’t work and work extremely well. They were abandoned because they required true skill to make them and you must weight three or four years for the air-dried beech to be dried and seasoned enough to make a plane from. This is so amazing a tool that once you use one you will be spoiled for any other tool.
I will soon be making the lid of the chest so I will use it for the grooves to receive the raised panel. Look for it in a couple of days and I will talk you through my experience then.