Full Chisel Blog

November 25, 2009

Smoothing Plane update

Filed under: Hand Planing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Scrapers,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 9:14 am

Last week during the Plane Making Workshop for the Nevada WoodChucks in Reno, I built a plane along with those in the class.  I didn’t have time to do all of the tuning, so I spent a couple of hours bringing my little coffin smoother to good order.

And while the plane worked just fine, the body needed some work to improve the chamfers and smooth the surfaces, however the sole was not flat at all.  It was high in front the heel, high in the middle and high again at the mouth and just in front of the mouth.  That meant that the very heel was low as was the toe of the plane and there was also a low spot in the middle of the plane.  It was my mistake not making this flat when I was working on the plane, everyone in the class had theirs smooth, I just didn’t get around to it at the time.

I put the plane in my patternmaker’s vise and contemplated how to true up the bottom.  True, truth, then I remembered that the toothing plane is also called a truthing plane, so I got out my toother and worked over the sole of the plane.  Properly set the toothing plane just hit the high areas leaving no tooth or key on the low areas.  I also didn’t need to worry about grain direction as the toothing plane didn’t cause any tear out or chipping, just very fine serrations on the sole of the plane.

Then it was time to remove the toothing marks and I turned to a cabinet scraper.  The advantage of using this tool is that the flat bottom guides the scraper along the surface removing only the high spots.

This worked great and got out most of the toothing marks left by the toothing plane and made the sole of the smoother much smoother.

I then turned to the card scraper to remove the few serrations left by the toothing plane and missed by the cabinet scraper.  The sole passed the straight edge test, no light showing between the straight edge and the sole.

I fettled with the wedge a bit and worked on the chamfers.  I still need to do a little work on the throat to clean it up and make it look better, but these are aesthetic improvements, the plane works great and still needs a coat or two of boiled linseed oil.



  1. Hi Stephen,

    Cool write-up on the coffin plane. If you’re searching for ideas, I’m interested in details about scrub planes. Great for violin arching, I found out last summer. Like a gouge, but without taking the skin off the bottoms of your wrists (catching the wood). Looking on e-Bay, I keep seeing the Stanley 40, in various states of neglect and repair. The latest tools for woodworking catalog has the ECE Scrub plane listed, a wood body with a wedge.

    Anyway, if you have any words of wisdom, that would be great.



    Comment by Ken Pollard — November 30, 2009 @ 6:50 pm

  2. Ken,

    I probably should make a scrub plane because I currently don’t own one, but then for edges of boards I use a hatchet or bench ax.

    They are basically a smoothing plane with a heavily cambered blade. The ECE is a quality plane and has a horn which is handy as it keeps your fingers from getting pinched by going off the front edge of the plane.

    Come to think of it a horned plane is something I have never made, so I should make one.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — November 30, 2009 @ 10:55 pm

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