A tale of three smoothers

A tale of three smoothers

Robin Gates tunes three classic smoothing planes and is surprised by his results


I was sheltering from the rain in a local junk shop – or antiques store, as they call them nowadays. It can be a rueful experience browsing in these places, being reacquainted with the clutter I’ve thrown out, now waxed with a coat of dealer’s hyperbole and tied with a breath-taking price tag. But on this occasion I was pleasantly surprised by a wooden smoothing plane keeping company with the domestic bygones and, at £6, cheaper than fish and chips. At this price it stood in danger of being upcycled as a table lamp, so, as a woodworker, I felt duty-bound to return it safely to the bench.

Besides, although I already had a forest of woodies in the shed, ranging from jack and jointer to bullnose, plough and moulding planes, somehow the coffin smoother (so called because of its shape) had escaped me. I carried it to the cash desk as though it were an injured bird.

Together with my go-to Stanley No.4, and a Spiers infill plane I’d bought out of pure lust, the woody completed a trio of smoothing classics. While they all did the same job, they were as different from each other as Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras, so I decided it would be illuminating to tune them equally and see how they performed when on song...

Read the full article in The Woodworker July 2017

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