This is a nice inspirational video on Larry Williams and his business partner Don. It’s interesting though to see some machinery used in the production of these fantastic planes. I’ve always found it odd that machinery is used to produce hand tools to promote handwork. No ear protection, no dust, its quiet and efficient but when it comes to manufacturing them, it’s not cost effective and inefficient to do so by hand. Kind of hypocritical don’t you think, it’s like selling tools vs selling furniture, you can sell tools all day everyday but you can’t sell the stuff you can build with them.
Larry mentioned that moulding planes are sophisticated tools and I agree with him, they are as much needed in ones tool kit today as they were back in the day. I know modern day furniture has very little mouldings implemented in their designs, but fashion comes and goes it’s more a cycle or like the hour hand, its start at 12 and completes its revolution ending at 12. Nothing knew is ever thrown at us, nothing knew in terms of design is every invented, fashion comes and goes like the tide, if you don’t believe me look carefully and you will see bits and pieces of things taken from the past going back as far as 2000years and I’m not only referring to furniture.
In this modern age most people don’t like brown furniture but do like the carvings and mouldings and the initial design of some antique furniture. So why have it brown? I’ve seen a beautiful highboy in FWW made entirely from Tiger Maple. It’s the same style of furniture but it isn’t brown, the creator thought out of the box. So you don’t need to stick to any period correctness colour just to go with your own creativity.
Referring back to my own build I’m finding it frustrating to shape the irons to make a perfect replica of the sole’s profile. Unfortunately I had to resort to using a dremel to help with the grinding. If I had an assortment of files I believe I could do a much better job quickly and more efficiently. The two quality files I have are Bahco files and are the best files I have ever worked with. Sometimes I feel like buying a whole bunch of them in fear that they will drop their standard of work and produce crap like Nicholson does today. I wonder though how the select modern day toolmakers shape theeir soles and irons? I look at James Celeb’s profiles and they’re perfect, I looked at Matt Bickford’s and Larry Williams and HNT as well and all the irons perfectly match the sole. So perfect that it’s impossible to think that they did this by hand and I don’t think that they did.
When I examine Ron Herman’s profiles through his videos there are slight variations because he grinds them by hand and some of my own antique planes again you see those slight variations as well. I could be wrong as I’ve never held any of those above mentioned toolmakers planes in my hands before to study them up close, but it just looks too machined perfect to be done by hand. So I wonder what is it that they they use to get it so darn perfect.
I believe that I will get it perfect by hand, I know me and I know how much of a nit picker I am so it’s only a matter of time before I get to that aha point. It’s easy to say I don’t know, it can’t be done and to resort to some machine to do it for you. For me that’s not being a craftsman, a craftsman relies on his own skill sets or develops them and not rely on some machine to do it for him. For me it’s always been about skill development and freedom from the dependence on machinery.