This is my first stateside post from Newark, New jersey. On my way to upstate New York.
Here is another option that enhances any plane by dampening vibration between meeting surfaces and so absorbing all movement whatsoever into the softness. It’s not unusual to use spongy material in engine housings and between motor driven components to reduce or eliminate negative vibration. I find that on the #4 plane and any other for that matter, a simple cushion of perforated shelf liner, you know the one, it’s sort of non-slip stuff, compressed between the cap iron and the cutting iron enhances sound and improves the performance of the plane enough to make a marked difference. The cutting iron assembly, that’s the cap iron and the cutting iron fully assembled and locked in unison by the setscrew, feels totally different when the silicone shelf liner is sandwiched over the bulk of the cap iron surface. The only real draw back is that the cap iron doesn’t swivel so easily in the usual manner when it is being assembled after sharpening. I find it best to remove the setscrew, place the two parts together and then set the screw. The whole plane feels very different, quite like holding the heavyweights made by Clifton, Woodriver, Lie Nielsen and so on, planes I like the feel of but not the great weight. This way I have all the feel of solidity and even quality of cut but without the weight of these very heavy planes. Try it and let me know what you feel. Perhaps you’ll disagree, but I love it. It actually improves heavyweights too, but it doesn’t reduce the major issue of heaviness.
Now those prone to criticise might say amongst themselves why do this if thin irons match the quality of thick irons? Well, thin-ironed, lightweight planes indeed have less ‘fat’ to absorb vibration into the body. This simple step compensates for this without in any way compromising the benefit of lightweight planing, which in my estimation is of great value and far surpasses any benefit gained from heavyweight planing. I am in no way a wimp in stature or strength and I have ample stamina after continued body exercise for five decades. An extreme sports friend has been to all of my workshops and told me he can’t keep up with me. He at 26 and me at 62.
Anyway, try it for yourself and tell me if you feel what I feel too.