Hand Tools Archive

Subject:
In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..

david weaver
It's no secret that I've taken a fascination with building double iron wooden planes out of beech. Years ago, there was a long discussion here about the shortcomings of double iron beech planes, and as far as the later planes that may have been made in haste or worn out when "experts" go them, I can't really discuss those. they frustrated me when I was a beginner, too.

Building these planes and learning from some good examples of them

The descriptions of the double iron plane shortcomings were thus (many from Larry):
* the planes were hastily made
* the cap irons created a problem with the wedge fingers where there was a choke point at the corners, and the fingers have to terminate at the top of the cap iron. The choke point forces a user to clip the corners of the iron to avoid clogging, reducing the effective width of the plane.
* it's not possible to have a tight mouth or a closely following wear because the wear in either of those situations becomes a clogging point for chips coming off of a closely set cap iron

Not to mention some extra steps have in that you need to mortise another slot in the bed with enough room for lateral movement, and you have to carve a slot in the wedge as most english cap irons have a large protrusion sticking off of the top of the cap iron.

Here's what I've found after building a half a dozen of these wedged planes (actually 7 now), and before I built the first, I went on a buying spree of buying high quality older double iron planes and examining the ones that worked well (that included planes that had tight mouths and wide open mouths). Invariably, all of the very tight planes except for one were made in england (the one US make was early-mid 1800s - I think it may have been a maker "lamb" (there were several using that name).

Anyway, here's what I have come up with in terms of the points above after learning to properly make the planes because of the buying spree that finally yielded some little used and well made planes.

* the earlier planes were not cheaply made. The work inside the mortise was extremely precise with very crisp lines and no loose tolerances. The wedge fingers neatly match the abutments on the tapers. The counter to this is that when you look at the later single iron planes, those are also poorly made.
* There is no problem with feeding all the way to the edge of the plane. The wedge fingers do not catch shavings and the wear does not create a clog point. If either of these problems exist, the plane is not properly made or has been user modified to cause the trouble
* the wear in a double iron plane does not follow the bed angle closely, it isn't an issue of any concern if the mouth opens with wear. Truing of the sole of the plane needs to be done only if the sole develops twist from poor lumber selection, and that's something avoidable. Wear at the mouth is no issue because the mouth is not controlling tearout.

There is also the notion, that I believe is false, that the finest planes ever made were the later single iron planes before the double iron was developed. It may be true that the moulding planes from that era were better than later planes, but the double iron planes from the early 1800s are demonstrably superior in use to any single iron plane. And frankly, the problems larry had described about reduced cut width, etc, exist only when you don't know how to set up a double iron plane or use one. I have had no clogging issues in any of my planes, though in one I did have to open the mouth to about an eighth of an inch. (that would be a discussion for another time, as a very tight mouth has no clogging issues and a mouth that is open a fair amount doesn't, but in between can be a trick situation to get a plane to feed. The problem is avoided by making a mouth of a tenth of an inch or so since the mouth on a wooden plane over time will allow reduction of tearout, but not elimination)

There are no makers making quality double iron planes in any volume, and I don't suspect there will be. Rather than the issues that larry and others may discuss (not the least of which is most customers not having the skill to use a double iron plane, most of the buyers are probably beginners), I think the true issue for not making a double iron plane is that it takes more skill and time to make one properly, it is a little bit more complicated and the cost to make the planes is higher due to the need to make a reasonably tasteful cap iron and slot the cutting iron. George Wilson had made that comment as being limiting for Larry, and Larry dismissed it as he could make a cap iron if he wants to, but the reality is it would cause an economic problem in the plane price - one that is clearly seen in old catalogs.

The real difference in performance of one vs. the other is in the penultimate step of stock preparation, and I think that most people don't do that by hand, anyway. Kees did the work this year to describe that a double iron plane stays in the cut longer, and this is something very easily observed (one of my biggest complaints about the spectacular single iron JT brown jointer that I have is that as the iron dulls, it doesn't stay in the cut very well, and this interval is very early compared to a double iron plane - maybe at 60% of the strokes made with a double iron plane)

I was originally sold by larry's arguments because he is so direct in making them, but I find that a lot of them are false, and as Warren has often said, based on conclusions made by someone who doesn't know how to use the double iron.

That may seem dismissive, but every time I've seen an assault on the double iron plane, it's based on comments that I could easily refute in person.

So, I am firing the first salvo to open this discussion again. The shortcomings of the double iron plane as described in prior discussions just do not exist. I didn't understand why they don't, or even how to properly fit an old plane that doesn't feed well until I started to make my own planes.

Messages In This Thread

In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..
Re: Another Excellent Quote from the Archives *LINK*
Sound of dead horse being beaten....... *NM*
Re: I guess this is my version of historical text.
Re: It's not the plane you run...
Re: Ahh..this is the post I was looking for
Re: And another one I hope nobody believes! *LINK*
Re: Colonial Williamsburg
Re: Colonial Williamsburg
Re: better wood...
Re: better wood... but not faster.
Re: I guess...
Re: Colonial Williamsburg
Re: Singles Not More Efficient
Re: Singles Not More Efficient
Re: Demonstrably superior?
Re: Demonstrably superior?
Re: Demonstrably superior?
Re: Demonstrably superior?
Re: In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..
Re: In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..
Re: In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..
Re: In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..
2007 *LINK*
Re: thanks Warren
Re: Ahh...the gimmick line
Re: Ahh...the gimmick line
Re: Ahh...the gimmick line
Re: Ahh...the gimmick line
Re: wood...yes..
Re: wood...yes..
Re: wood...yes..
Re: Ahh...the gimmick line *PIC*
I can emphatically answer a couple of those!!
Summary and observation
Re: Summary and observation
Re: Summary and observation
Re: Summary and observation
Re: Summary and observation
Re: Summary and observation
Re: Summary and observation
Re: Summary and observation
Re: Summary and observation
Re: Summary and observation *LINK*
Re: Summary and observation
Doesn't jibe *LINK*
Re: Huge shift in the vibe
Re: Pushing discussions
OT Persuasion over the Internet
Re: OT Persuasion over the Internet
Schwarz blog 2007 *LINK*
some corrrections and comments
Re: as I recall..
Re: before 2011
Re: OT Persuasion over the Internet
Re: Apparently Mostly Not...
Re: Apparently Mostly Not...
Re: 2006
Re: In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..
Re: In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..
Re: In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane.. *PIC*
Re: In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..
Re: In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..
Re: I have a couple of other questions..
Re: I have a couple of other questions..
I use one....
Re: well, it won't be like a conscription..
Re: In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..
Re: In defense of the Double Iron wooden plane..
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