I think I caught the hand plane bug somewhere, maybe during the last LJ get together. It probably just festered under the surface and waited until my mind was weak enough before it bit. At any rate, after my experiences with tuning and working with my block planes, I felt the draw to pick up a smoothing plane. I checked the LN website and I am not quite ready to part with $400 to get their no. 4 and a cool little screwdriver so I went the ebay route. I didn’t see much there for a smoother but a Record caught my eye. After doing some research, I found it to be a late 80s model and every bit of advice I read indicated that it was best to pass on that era. But the mind works in funny ways and I found myself thinking about it and losing sleep over it, so I decided to just fork over the 20 bucks and be done with it. I figured the worst case scenario would be practice fiddling with the thing until I got a decent plane.
The plane arrived yesterday and it really is a decent plane. It had a cast but not ground finish, had a decent heft to it, the sole was relatively flat, and virtually no rust to the plane. The tote and knob were still wood (though not rosewood like the pre-wwii models), and there was still a bit of brass to the hardware.
I took the plane apart, placed some items in an evapo-rust bath and flattened and sharpened the plane iron. The iron was made from Tungsten Vanadium steel which held a pretty nice edge and I now am sporting bald spots on my arm. (Why do we do that anyway? Can’t we all just get matching tattoos?). The knob and tote were loose so I spent a little bit of time grinding the bolts down to give the brass nuts a tighter fit. Both tote and knob are secure now.
After re-assembly, it didn’t take too long to get the sole flat. It either came out decent from the factory or the previous owner spent some time tuning it themselves. This model still retained the frog adjustment screw so I don’t believe this was released as an “economy” model.
One of the methods for dating the plane is going by the lateral adjustment lever. The last production change (after 1988) used a die cast method of manufacture. This is how I knew it to be a later model from the ebay picture.
I ran some test cuts over some white oak. The project I bought the wood for is part of the reason why I wanted the plane in the first place. I experienced no chatter and had the shavings I was looking for. I also enjoyed the “shuck” sound that the plane made while running over the wood. Having experienced (way too many times) the distressing sounds of cracked and splintering wood fibers, I recognized the difference immediately.
All said, I am pretty happy with my purchase. I didn’t have to purchase any new parts and the plane is working how it is supposed to, and at a price difference that is more than substantial. Of course now I am going to be looking up shoulder and jointer planes, but that will be a whole other story :)
-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.