In 1930 +/- would the manufacturing cost of a #4 be more or less than a wood equivalent coffin plane? Related, what factor drove wood planes from the market?
In the U.S. the last wooden plane co. (Sandusky) went belly up in 1926, I believe.
When Stanleys first appeared they were more expensive, something like twice the price, than woodies, but the price came down as manufacturing scaled up.
Woodies were driven from the market partly by all-metal Stanley/Bailey planes, but also by transitionals, which were very popular and much cheaper than the all-metal designs.
It's worth understanding the overall picture. Woodies were already in decline when S/Bs hit the scene; manufacturers were using prison labor to flood the market with cheap, low-quality planes, kind of like what's done with low quality import goods today.
They were declining because hand work of all types was declining. By the end of the civil war, most furniture here was made in factories. Homes were stick framed and wooden wall panels were replaced with plaster. Windows, doors, mouldings, could be purchased. And on and on.
The typical homeowner around the turn of the century probably used a plane the way today's homeowners use cheap consumer-grade power tools:once in a while, without much skill. Like Dave said, they didn't want to tune the sole (with another plane) every time they picked it up. They didn't use the plane enough to become proficient at hammer setting. In short, metal planes took over, to a large extent, because they're easier for the casual user.
As Dave indicated, the dynamic was different in England because hand work in general hung on a lot longer.
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