Hand Tools

Subject:
Light vs Heavy planes

Derek Cohen (in Perth, Australia)
There has been some controversy over many years as to the part played by mass in a plane. Some argue that it improves planing and others that it is irrelevant. Higher mass is typically a feature of premium, especially custom planes - among vintage planes, names such as Spier and Norris come to the fore, while Brese, Sauer and Steiner, Holtey, Daed, are among the modern planemakers. Lower mass is found in woodies, such as HNT Gordon, and metal planes such as Stanley. Modern planes, such as Lie Nielsen and Veritas fall into the middle ground.

The heavier planes were considered de rigueur about 15 years ago. Many of these planes were single iron and high mass, thick irons and a tight mouth were believed to be necessary for performance planing. Generally they fell out of favour, and this was partly as high cutting angles on bevel up planes gained momentum, and then this was accelerated when the close up chipbreaker returned to the equation.

My high mass planes have sat on the shelf for many years as I found a preference for lighter, more nimble planes which require less physical effort to move around. In smoothers, I like small planes, such as #3 size, and have a few that get rotated, such as a Stanley #3, LN #3, and a Veritas Custom #4 (come on Rob, where’s the #3?). I also have a wonderful high angle woody by HNT Gordon.

In recent months, spurred by curiosity, I have used a Marcou BU smoother and a LN #4 1/2 Anniversary.

Note that the LN is planing into the grain of interlocked Jarrah ...

What was this like?

Well, firstly it brought a smile to my face. Planing was effortless. Push the monster forward, and it peeled off a shaving and left a glowing surface behind. “Monster” is the appropriate term since these planes are not just large physically, but they feel large .. and there is the rub. They disconnect one from the wood. It is a little like pushing a board over a power jointer (although the other way around). There is little that is delicate about this experience so, for those who have a yen for the Jim Krenov spirit, these planes are not for you.

But they perform or, rather, I believe that the extra mass makes performance easier to achieve, which is likely to suit a lesser experienced person.

Interestingly, many years ago I described the Marcou as the best performing smoother I had used. This is a bevel up plane, which I set up with a 60 degree cutting angle. I wrote a review years and years ago about this plane, and my esteem for it has not altered. One of the planes it was compared with was a LN #4 1/2. That did quite well .. but that was pre-chipbreaker days. The LN Anniversary, used here, has a lot more mass than the standard LN #4 1/2. It came with a 50 degree frog, which I have replaced with a 45 degree from (after an unhappy and brief time with the 55 degree frog .. can one say immovable tank?). Closing down the chipbreaker is a revelation with this plane. It could go into reversing grain where the Marcou could not. Simple a powerhouse in every way.

High mass? Definitely not for someone planing all day and every day. But otherwise .. yes .. it does add up to more in a number of ways.

Regards from Perth

Derek

Messages In This Thread

Light vs Heavy planes
Re: Light vs Heavy planes
Re: Light vs Heavy planes
Re: Light vs Heavy planes
Re: Light vs Heavy planes
not the direction I went *PIC*
5 1/4
Re: reframing the issue
Re: reframing the issue
Friction, and more
The experiment and conclusion are both confusing
Re: Heavy and light
The best case for heavy planes...
another factor
If you're trimming furniture...
At some point..
Inertia and figured wood
Re: Jim, what is Osae-gani? *NM*
Osae-gani
Re: Osae-gani
Note on fitting
Re:wedge fitting
funny...
Re: funny...
Re:wedge fitting
biases for the maker...
Re: Light vs Heavy planes
Re: Light vs Heavy planes
Not a positive contribution to the discussion
Re: Light vs Heavy planes
finding out who to listen to...
Re: Same
Old history
Shops using mostly hand tools..
Re: Shops using mostly hand tools..
Don felder's guitar...
Misprint?
cultural thing...
Re: Misprint?
Re: finding out who to listen to...
I agree...
Re: finding out who to listen to...
Turnover, newbies and FAQ
comment on teaching
If you get my drift...
Re: Light vs Heavy planes
new vs. old planes...
I like tools from Brooklyn
Re: I like tools from Brooklyn *NM*
Infills in the UK
I'm glad you commented.
Note on a modern infill
konrad's planes...
Re: I'm glad you commented.
what I've found...
Re: what I've found...
interesting that...
Re: Calling BS
I haven't seen it....
Re: I haven't seen it....
Re: I haven't seen it....
Re: I haven't seen it....
Re: I haven't seen it....
Truing Kanna
expanding on what jim said
Re: expanding on what jim said
Re: expanding on what jim said
Coupla thoughts
different methods of lapping and the bump
Re: Calling BS
Re: Facts, not assertions
Re: Facts, not assertions
I think we're agreeing...
Re: I think we're agreeing...
Re: Me too
Wood isn't indefinitely stable, either
Re: Calling BS
Re: Calling BS
Re: Calling BS
by the early 19th century
Re: by the early 19th century
It's not offered as ball court...
I miss Todd Hughes' contributions too *NM*
Re: It's not offered as ball court...
I'm guessing on parts here...
Re: Can't argue
Weight Comparison
more infill weights
Re: more infill weights
now there is a pearl of wisdom
Re: more infill weights
initial fitting...
one more follow-up comment.
Re: one more follow-up comment.
rosewood
Re: rosewood
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