Hand Tools

Re: Followup Question from PPA

Sgian Dubh
I agree that a plane with a concave sole is going to make it either difficult or impossible to straighten a board edge, and for the reasons you suggest. I've certainly had experience of planes that really wouldn't work as you describe, usually badly abused clunkers that are quite common in educational workshops. The problem with tools in educational settings, e.g., college joinery courses is basically down to the fact that no-one maintains them or tunes them up, and the students abuse them. No-one maintains them because management consistently understaff their workshop facilities and they includes some airy waffle about technicians or teaching staff being tasked with looking after the tools, whilst not allocating designated time for the staff to do the job.

As to my own planes, I've taken time to check the soles and flatten them if required, and with the exception of my no 7, already described earlier, firstly with a straight edge followed by the simple expedient of sticking a long length of 80 grit paper on to a long flat surface, such as a surface planer table, and doing a quick rub to see what kind of scratch pattern develops, and where on the plane's sole that scratch pattern shows up. That's followed by either doing no more because the sole is okay, or doing maybe five or ten minutes extra abrading to take out high spots (and usually moving on to paper with finer grit, but not always). The chances are that all my plane soles are slightly convex, but I don't check with accurate enough measurement tools to know for sure. However, all the planes that matter to me in use work fine, and that's really all that matters to me.

As to being able to flex a plane in use, specifically my no 7, not others I use, I try to do so on rare occasions, but I can't say for sure that I succeed. All I'll say is that I seem to be able to achieve a slight difference in the plane's action on the wood but it's an entirely subjective impression. I'm certainly not going to try and convince you that you are in error to say that a plane's sole can't be flexed in use to any appreciable degree. What I do know is that I can get my planes to do what I want, or need, them to do, and in the end what else really matters? Slainte.

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