Moulding plane build thoughts

There is much debate on laminated versions of plane building versus building a plane out of a single block of wood.  The arguments that are presented by toolmakers mostly are that the laminated plane isn’t stable, which can only be true if it isn’t quartersawn or riftsawn or its made out of several different species of wood or the same species, but not of the same tree.  However, the case is dead in the water if its built from the same tree.  Now probably there are plane owners who have beautiful planes made from contrasting wood and probably have never made mention of any issues, highly unlikely though in my view due to the fact of seasonal changes, but still I don’t want to dismiss this probability as every plane owner knows his plane best.

If traditionally built planes need small refurbishment on the soles, then how is it possible that a plane with several species of various woods slapped together would erase this phenomena?  The sole should not need refurbishing every new season I might add, but every few years it may well need it.  That is in reference to both versioned planes.

If I were to take a quarter sawn 8/4 lump of wood and resaw it in half and glue it back together again, it would continue to behave in the same manner as it did prior the cut.  You have not altered the grain direction just because you severed it and then reglued that piece back on. On the other hand if I were to flip the stock and glue the grain facing the opposite direction, then they will in time pull themselves apart.

With the grain running horizontally you will have minuscule movement across its length which is what you want, but it will not stop movement across its width hence why the sole needs reflattening from time to time.  As long as the wood has been properly dried and preferably air dried you may not need to reflatten the sole for a number of years.  Reflattening is so minute that a light touch with sandpaper is all that is needed.

In my case I’ve laminated two pieces from the same stock with grain running horizontally and against each other.  Having the grain orientated in this manner will not allow the joint to come apart, instead they will push against one another.  Now I’ve read somewhere long ago that hide glue is flexible which makes it even more ideal for woodworking especially in this case.    Think about it, PVA solidifies into a rock but its downside is it isn’t reversible.  Hide glue also solidifies into a rock but with moisture and heat becomes reversible, its this reversibility that makes hide glue flexible that it allows the timber to move throughout the seasons.  Now I know what your thinking but your wrong, it takes a fair amount of heat, moisture and effort to pull anything apart that’s glued with animal protein or better known as hide glue.  The moisture that your timbers absorbs has zero effect on the glue bond and integrity of your joints.  They are not compromised in any way nor will they come apart.

So in my case in my current build, with the grain orientated correctly, the use of the same timber from the same tree and only a small top portion of the plane is laminated with a glue that will allow it to gracefully move, I fail to see how the British at the time could call this French method that I thought was my own as inferior.  I haven’t yet seen any evidence that substantiates this rebuke.

Bear in mind I have built prototypes of these planes 1 year ago out of quartersawn structural pine using the same method as the French.  These planes are as flat as the day I built them and the laminated quarter is as solid and gap free as the day I glued it.  Also bear in mind I live in a tropical environment where moisture levels are higher than other cities, and humidity in summer months are so bad that your drenched in sweat even at 2 in the morning and worse if your in my workshop that’s why I love winter.  So I find their justification hard to believe especially when they live in a country where their summers are like air conditioned rooms.  There is more chance of a rift sawn block warping than a laminated quarter sawn cupping or bowing itself into a banana.

I think this idea is kept alive by tool makers who are paraphrasing like parrots ancient beliefs without any factual evidence to this claim.  It’s not much different to the ancient belief that spirits reside in trees hence where the term “knock on wood” came from.  It is commonly known in Japan that some woodworkers believe that the tree has its own spirit, hence why I am of the opinion that their planes have been developed to work on the pull stroke, to draw the spirit of the wood to oneself.  I believe that pulling vs pushing delivers no added benefit to the woodworker, but psychologically it does to the believer.  Add to this belief the wood to being sacred, you will show it respect and due care when working it, something you should be doing anyway.  This tree was once alive and life was taken from it to serve mankind, you should work to the best of your ability with humility and respect for the honour given to you to work that wood by none other than God Himself.  That’s my personal beliefs I respect others for theirs.

Regardless of beliefs,  both versioned planes push or pull function the same producing equal results, but what gets me is the mystical jargon western sellers use as a marketing strategy to make you believe otherwise.  I had one use this very same tactics on me once in Brisbane and I couldn’t help but laugh, I would never normally laugh but I would like to hand them a handkerchief to wipe the shit dribbling out of their mouths in a polite manner of course.  Please forgive me for being so vulgar but sometimes there’s just no other way of putting it.

Both planes produce the same wispy shavings, one does not supersede the other, they are equal in every respect other than personal preference by the user.  The same applies to the English build vs French build, both builds work and both versions will behave the same as long as you follow the golden rule set out above.

The British method is no more superior than the French method and vice versa but you have to ask yourselves, how much of it is really politics.  Don’t forget they were at war with each other, each side favoured their own and belittled the other.  The American revolution brought about many wonderful changes and innovations to furniture design completely severing any connection to their old homeland England and even went as far to change the spelling of many words.  People avoided English products,

A) it was expensive and B) there was resentments. Was English made furniture bad ? of course not, infact a British made plane far exceeds an American made plane in quality, every tool maker and historian will tell you that.  But politics was at play, and I am of the opinion that politics could of been at play there as well.

Logic wins every time, as long as  you go along with nature and not against it as the Japanese say you will have perfect harmony.  Another fine example of logic winning, we all know you cannot plane a sizeable board flat with a smoother.  Someone says you can, common logic and sense proves otherwise.  The longer the plane the flatter the piece will be, that’s logic and I think even Mr Spock would agree with me on this may he rest in peace.  But the newcomers who don’t know any better will continue to defend this modern myth due to gratitude and sense of loyalty to that “someone”.

Research,knowledge, reason, logic all come together to form an opinion or even conclusion if your lucky which are the ingredients that form an intellectual.  But without an opposing force, someone who is willing to challenge your idea with valid points, critique and new ideas while maintaining mutual respect, all your left with is one man’s opinion unchallenged.

Well that’s my take on all of this  and I apologise for not having any sample pictures as I’ve written this on my iPad during lunch and have no option to save it as a draft like on the PC.

To give you a heads up where I’m at I placed the order for 1 1/4″ iron blanks but they are out of stock and aparantly even LN US is also out of stock, so instead of putting the build on hold  I’ve ordered 3/4″ blanks.  I’m hoping they too won’t be out of stock.  It’s not a good start but it seems like there are a lot people making moulding planes.

Also I know I’ve been slack on finishing off those videos on the planter box, it’s been really hectic at work and am just buggered after work but I promise I will get around to doing it this week if not sooner.

My next post will be on the research I did on A2 and O1 steel which the find was interesting I thought.

3 thoughts on “ Moulding plane build thoughts

  1. I’ve laminated my fair share of wood, softwood and hardwood. I can remember only a couple of times that I had any issues with wood movement. Both were my fault. I knowingly used junk wood. None of my laminations done with careful wood selection and grain orientation have ever given me any problems.

    There are a whole lot of Krenov style planes around the world that seem to be working just fine with laminated construction. The Japanese planes that I recently finished are from solid timber mostly because it was easier to make them this way.

    It seems that tradition plays the biggest role on the what is “right” and what is “wrong”. Now that we can see evidence from all around world it is becoming easier and easier to seperate fact from tradition.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A friend of mine (Whelsh) last year gave me a few hand planes planes and irons.
    The coffin smother had a few laminated inserts of wood – its was very well used and the iron was from England late XIX century and a laminated (2 parts with a brass insert in the middle) toothing plane early’s XX century…
    So I’m sure you’ll be fine 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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