Just wondering whether you could elaborate on your comment, “I wish someone would replicate the #4 with high-spec engineering and wooden handles like they do with some planes being made today. That’s a plane I would go for.”?
My initial reaction to this was “they do” (thinking Lie-Nielsen’s #4), but on reflection I’m now thinking you might preclude these due to their Bedrock style of bed/frog mating design (as per one of your previous commentaries about Bedrocks).
Glad to. There are domestic makers I highly respect for what they achieved when they went against the flow and who have indeed, as far as I know, stayed true to the course they chose in establishing domestic businesses within their countries to create employment on local levels and resisted the conglomerate empires who set prices for them to work to or die. They have faced stiffer opposition from some companies in their countries who went to Asia for alternative supplies but that’s OK, adversity builds character.
So what would I like to see in my ideal smoothing plane?
Handle choices, small, medium and large made from durable and sustainable hardwoods that don’t crack.
Blade alternative. I have ideas for an alternative blade presentation that’s radical and low cost.
Same body of plane so the weight stays close to exactly the same as a Stanley Bailey pattern but perhaps if there is better casting iron around then replace that with the new and better.
Better engineering of component parts.
Sharpened and set up to a quality near ready to go out of the box.
Domestically made to each country.
Bevelled perimeter edge to plane sole.
All part corners softened to match a well used Stanley or Record.
Oh, and, Yes! A Bailey-pattern frog that could be adjusted the same way as is.