Hand Tools Archive

Re: Pictures of Most of Them
Response To:
Norris Vs. Stanley ()

david weaver
My suspicions are confirmed regarding the norris adjusters: They're crap. The no 2 with no adjuster blows the two A5s away in terms of being able to get it set to smooth quickly. All work well with the cap iron once set. The no 2 is just a delight all around, only needing to be used some to get the lever cap to loosen up and move a little more freely - something important for setting it.

I guess I lucked out to some extent - I got both types of norris adjusters in the two A5s - the one with a solid threaded rod as well as the telescoping type. I would have to say the one with the solid threaded rod is like having a car with 75 horsepower and a 40 mile an hour first gear, and the telescoping one is like having a car with 75 horsepower and a 60 mile an hour first gear. They are both just painfully awkward, and better used to get the iron close and tapping adjustments with full tension on.

No way that I'll keep both of them - they are identical in size and I need only one of them for measurements.

Still missing the modern norris panel plane, but It's no pearl other than having little use. It's later styled with very bulky cheap beech infills.


The rest of the planes i posted, I guess in case there is any discussion to be had on infills. The two A5s are on the right. next to them is a rosewood filled Buck branded panel plane (it is also made by norris). Don't know what happened to the bun, but what's left of it is reshaped into something functional, which is good, because it's front-heavy.

To the left of it are a norris shoulder and slater shoulder. I can't remember the number of the norris - 21 or 18 or something. Slater, no clue. I almost never use them because a chisel is faster, but I sold off a LN large shoulder plane to get the norris, which was only slightly more expensive and has miles more personality.

To the left of them is an infill smoother that I made pre-cap iron (second infill that I made). It's pretty much a theft of Ron Brese's design of his early planes, but dovetailed and not nearly as well finished. The infill is bois de rose. What a waste of a nice billet of wood that was - I didn't know any better. It was a deep red when I first made it, but it has aged to brown. If any of you remember clint jones, he had run across that billet somewhere for $75. It was full of bug holes and cracks but there was plenty left to get a front and rear infill - but it's such a rare wood that I should've passed it to someone with more skill. The cap iron and iron came from Ron Brese. Of course, I asked him if I could dead copy the plane design he was selling at the time and he was fine with that (it's no threat to his clean work, that's for sure). He gave me some pointers, which were helpful. It is a one-trick pony, single iron 55 degrees with a mouth a little less than 4 thousandths. It's almost too small, but it keeps you out of trouble. Not very practical following a try plane - more than 2 thousandths shaving thickness and you can feel the restriction of the mouth.

To the left of that smoother is a cast infill that I got last year from a tool dealer in england for around $200 or a little less. It is the nicest panel plane (in terms of using) I've ever used. No clue who made it, if it was from catalog parts or what, but I could tell in the sale pictures from it that someone had a dead-on idea of what the handle orientation should be. Unlike most panel planes, the handle is in tight under the iron and it does not feel front heavy at all in use. It is the sweetest adjusting plane I've used - the lever cap moves freely and if you loosen it wherever it sits, it gets a zero set instantly and keeps exactly that when you tighten the cap. One light tap with a hammer and it makes tissuey shavings, one more firm one and it's taking half a hundredth and leaving a finished surface that really doesn't need much of anything. You can adjust it in a flash with no thinking. Theoretically not the quality of the norris made panel plane, but the mathieson parallel iron is about as hard as a ward (surprisingly) and it's definitely nicer to use - one of the few infills that I've used that is not awkward in any way.

somewhere I missed the slater bullnose plane. An english friend's dad used it (he was a joiner/carpenter) and it had no iron when he brought it to me. The friend wanted to throw it out - as well as wanting to pitch a record 5 1/2. I kept both - he's definitely not a sentimental guy! I made an iron for the bullnose it's everything that a stanley 75 isn't. Works great and can take a pretty bold shaving in a stopped rabbet without getting flustered, and also does well with fine shavings.

To the left of all of that is the norris 2. The ward iron has seen some rust in the past, but not at the business end and I suppose minor enough that it doesn't show up in the picture. The cap is a wonderful design (don't know if it's ward) like the old ward wooden plane caps. You set it and it is perfectly behaved as you tighten it - it does not change its set at all when you tighten it down like some sprung caps will do. I am keeping it no matter what.

The last plane is a pitiful little straight plane that I made from scratch as my very first infill plane. Same idea as the brese plane, but with a mouth that's about twice as large. 55 degrees. The cross pin is so crooked (not sure if I marked wrong or what) that the lever cap sits somewhat diagonally, but it works. It's horribly heavy but i find a use for it once in a while on really small things that are hard, like planing boxing strips.

If I could only have three of these planes, I'd have the norris shoulder, the #2, and the unknown cast panel plane. Despite being a fan of wooden planes for most things, and a fan of the never-exceeded stanley #4, I could use them without being put out or without fiddling.

Next order of business with the A5s will be taking the adjuster out of one of them probably will do that to the ugly one. I think it will be a better plane, but it still has a flaw that the depth of cut goes deeper with more cap iron tension - that also makes it a pain with the adjuster. Just when you think you have it where you like it, a little more tension on the lever cap and then it's cutting way too deep. I haven't checked the iron bedding yet, but maybe the changing depth setting us due to the iron not bedding in the right places. I hope that's it, because I can fix that pretty easily.

(I forgot to measure the bed angle when I was downstairs - hopefully, I'll remember it next time).

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