Choosing and using an Infill smoother plane

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An Infill plane for woodwork is a wonderful thing to have beside you on your workbench. They can be distinguished from the STANLEY type plane by the heavy timber that is riveted or screwed into a steel or Bronze frame, or SOLE.

Infill planes are superior in many ways to modern cast steel handplanes. most of these advantages are readily noticed after using them, sometimes immediately.

Things to look out for

Irons-

An Infill Plane has a very thick Iron. this reduces chatter and vibration, and produces a very good finnish in some very difficult timbers. a good thing to look into when buying an iron is how much sharpening metal is left below the chip breaker slot. this will tell you how much usable life is still in the tool

Weight-

An infill smoother is very very heavy. the smallest infill I own, A coffin side smoother with no adjuster and rosewood infill, weighs over 1kg. this is something to bear in mind if you find a "bargain" overseas. to post this Plane from the UK to australia, for instance, might cost 40 pound sterling.

Adjusters-

many infill Smoothers are merely fitted with a plane iron and wedge, and many with a screw cap made of brass. this is screwed down on the blade or Iron, and the chip breaker. these types of Plane Irons are adjusted for depth, as well as Laterally, with the aid of a small hammer or mallet. this is not as complicated as it seems, and the art of adjusting a plane of this type is very easily mastered, and just as convenient as a plane with a screw Adjuster.

Some Infill planes do have fancy screw Adjusters, the Norris type from England being particually well known and sought after. The irons on these Planes are adjusted in and out by turning a knurled knob above the Tote, and side to side, by pushing the same knob from one side to the other.

Infill Timbers-

most genuine older type smoothers are usually stuffed with either ebony or Brazillian rosewood, and this is easilly distinguished by the almost black, or red timber on the front bun and tote. some modern makers stuff their planes with other timbers, such as boxwood, Mahogany, cocabolo, purpleheart, etc, and these show up quite often on ebay as well.

Width of mouth-

A topic that comes up wherever infill smoothers are discussed is the width of the mouth. different Opinions abound, but a plane with a wide mouth can be adjusted, either with stips of cork or veneer, or with some other type of packing.

Dovetails-

some highly sought after Planes have the sides and base of the sole dovetailed together, not unlike a woodwork joint. others are just cast in one piece.

Different iron angles, or pitches

planes come in various different pitches, or angles to the work. a standard pitch iron will be positioned at 47 degrees to the work, a york angle smoother at 50 degrees, a half pitch smoother at 55, and a low angle smoother at 30 degrees or less. these planes all have different strengths and weeknesses, and this is well worth further research.

Glossary

Sole- the iron or Bronze part of the plane that sits flat on the work.

Mouth- the opening in the Sole that the Iron fits though.

Tote- the propper name for the timber infill at the rear, which may have a handle or adjuster integrated in it.

Bun- this is the infil at the front of the plane, used to guide the Plane with the hand.

Iron- the blade of the plane.

Chip-Breaker- this screws to the Iron and curls the shaving up and out of the way, allowing long, uninterupted cuts.

Screw cap- the hinged brass or iron cap above the blade. this tightens down the irons so it doesn't slip.

Wedge- many early Infill planes have a wooden wedge made from the same timber as the Infills to hold the iron in place, rather than a screw cap.

 

 

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