Hand Tools Archive

Planecraft and the Cap Iron

david weaver
I finally broke down and bought a copy of this book, and the cap iron part is pretty early, so I'm already past it.

(the version I got was published in 1959 or so). The early part of the book itself is quite nice. Then it gets to full on record puff piece after that.

The line that Charlie references is in a box after the sentence and then here and gone. In order for someone to have gone to the expense and trouble of making the double iron originally, it must've been a lot less subtle than that.

The puff piece part robs from a page or so of real discussion that would really get users going in the right direction. It's instantly into the superiority of the modern metal plane and the ability to move the frog around (and maybe it was before or after that part, but a discussion of really tightening the mouth up). I suspect the movable frog has a lot more to do with being manufactured separately, and not because it was ever actually needed. Norris panel planes have never failed for me, and there's no frog on them.

Otherwise, decent text. It's funny when you read things (they have a microscopic picture of the record tungsten steel vs. cast steel, but we really don't know if the cast was any good. The message is that the tungsten steel is better and tougher, but I've found the record irons to be subpar vs. the stanley laminated irons, and certainly vs. i.sorby or ward types). Other noted things, early on the author states with authority that chinese planes are definitely pulled because they have a cross bar. The opposite of that is true, I guess he never saw someone grip one (just a curiosity, none of this is of any real issue).

Other bits and bobs - the plane iron must be ground exactly square. Not quite, it should be ground to match the cap. The cap could be square, but once in a while, they're not perfect, and it's better to adjust the iron than the cap.

Leafing through the rest, it looks like the first 20 pages or so were probably the most interesting. The rest may lead a beginner to unnecessary purchases, but so does every other piece of sub-200 year old reading material that talks about planes.

(I doubt that many day to day craftsmen moved the frogs around on their planes).

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