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dw- Plane notes from the field #7: WHY WERE HAND PLANES CORRUGATED

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Blog entry by Don W posted 11-27-2016 10:04 PM 1068 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: My Union Planes and what I know about them Part 7 of dw- Plane notes from the field series no next part

After a question was posted elsewhere and a discussion pursued, I decided to do some research on WHY WERE HAND PLANES CORRUGATED.

http://www.timetestedtools.net/2016/11/25/why-were-hand-planes-corrugated/

Part of my intent was to debunk the theory that Stanley came up with it as a marketing gimmick. I think that was a success.

Let me know what you think.

The debate rages on. Why are hand planes corrugated. Some say it reduces friction. Some say it does not. Here is what I can dig up on the subject. This is historical facts of why early plane makers thought it was a good idea. Marketing? Maybe. You can decide.

Keep in mind, Stanley was far from the first to offer corrugated planes, but it’s possible its marketing capabilities helped carry on the tradition, although I can find no evidence it marketed corrugation as an advantage.

Birdsill Holly is said to have the first successful production metallic plane. These planes are Circa 1852. His patents do not mention corrugation however......................................click to read the rest

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.



16 comments so far

View Brit's profile

Brit

7183 posts in 2599 days


#1 posted 11-27-2016 10:29 PM

Nice research Don. Lovely to see that information all in one place with examples of the planes.

-- https://www.clickasnap.com/Andy61 - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View theart's profile

theart

8 posts in 310 days


#2 posted 11-28-2016 01:41 PM

The friction story makes sense if you’re planing under water, in air not so much. My guess would be that the corrugations were added to allow more even cooling of the casting, which reduces internal stresses and minimizes warping. They also greatly reduce the amount of material that needs to be removed during the final grinding of the sole.

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

4117 posts in 894 days


#3 posted 11-28-2016 02:20 PM



The friction story makes sense if you re planing under water, in air not so much. My guess would be that the corrugations were added to allow more even cooling of the casting, which reduces internal stresses and minimizes warping. They also greatly reduce the amount of material that needs to be removed during the final grinding of the sole.

- theart

My suppositions are along those lines as well. Corrugations may have aided in more stable solidification of the castings. However, I think it was more that most likely planes were scraped flat by hand. Corrugation would leave less material that had to be removed speeding up the process. Even if they were lapped rather than scraped, the interrupted surface would have reduced the time and effort required.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View terryR's profile

terryR

6833 posts in 2064 days


#4 posted 11-28-2016 04:27 PM

An intriguing read, Thanks, Don!

Cannot get over the Steers’ patent with rosewood inlaid into DT slots. Beautiful. Less friction? Hard to tell by hand, we would need mult-thousand dollar equipment to measure drag.

All I can see is MORE surface area to clean during a restore. :)

Makes me wonder why neither LN nor Veritas bother to corrugate their work.

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Rick.'s profile

Rick.

10092 posts in 2136 days


#5 posted 11-28-2016 04:29 PM

There was a guy who tried to use math to prove reducing friction wasn’t the original intent. His error is assuming the original thought process was logical.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View canadianchips's profile

canadianchips

2589 posts in 2753 days


#6 posted 11-28-2016 07:24 PM

I would BET ALL MONEY on marketing !
Other plane makers were moving into a market that Stanley wanted control of.
Come up with another gimmic to sell a few MORE than competition.
I dont buy int o less friction making it easier to plane. I have BOTH…...I cannot tell difference !
I do prefer wooden sole planes like Stanley #22 through 37 over metal ones. I honestly can tell difference when I use those !......Im a wood guy…..they look nicer too…... (Not counting ornate 41’s)

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Don W's profile

Don W

18453 posts in 2323 days


#7 posted 11-28-2016 10:06 PM

So it’s clear Stanley didn’t come up with the gimmick.

Its documented that Stanley didn’t believe the theory.

And if Stanley advertised that the corragated worked better, where did that advertising go?

The article wasn’t meant to be a “what’s today’s theory”.

This might have all taken place 100+ years ago, but these were some pretty smart engineering minds.

There was an obvious aversion to metallic planes at the time, be it real or just a reluctance to change.

I’d buy the marketing theory if I could find more than a few mentions in the small print, but I can’t.

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View JayT's profile

JayT

5404 posts in 1967 days


#8 posted 11-28-2016 10:24 PM


This might have all taken place 100+ years ago, but these were some pretty smart engineering minds.

There was an obvious aversion to metallic planes at the time, be it real or just a reluctance to change.

I d buy the marketing theory if I could find more than a few mentions in the small print, but I can’t.

- Don W

My thinking is running along the same lines as those last few thoughts.

I find it very interesting that several of the references talk about vacuum, adhesion and “clinging of the plane to the work”, which I’ve never experienced with a plane. I’m wondering if that is part of the equation. Are there any marketing materials from that time touting wooden bodied planes (i.e. transitionals) being better than iron because of not forming a vacuum? If so, it could be that the corrugated models were marketed as a counterargument in order to get people to switch, not really as a solution to an engineering problem.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View mafe's profile

mafe

11583 posts in 2845 days


#9 posted 11-30-2016 01:24 AM

Hi Don,
Yes interesting.
I don’t feel any difference when using the one or the other type, so by feel I can’t say it is better or worse.
Yes the plane are not a winner used on the edge, so this is a minus.
It will make the plane lighter… yes a fraction, but I actually prefer weight.
Works better on wet wood… I don’t plane wet wood.
It has less friction, I have no doubt about that, if you remove half the surface, but you still have same weight on the rest, so if it makes any difference, I doubt it.
The sexy factor… yes having one is sexy – a fun story.
Some how the small round once makes more sense, then hot air could form a air flow under, like this friction would be less, but in reality… naaa I doubt it, wood is not air tight.
Production, yes there would be less surface to flatten after the casting, that means faster and less wear on the expensive grinding wheels, less metal casted, so possible.
I think, at first it was made from the idea of less friction. Then perhaps realizing cheaper production. Finally as a sales trick and on demand.
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View hnau's profile

hnau

88 posts in 298 days


#10 posted 11-30-2016 05:38 PM

-- Spammer in processed of being removed.

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7592 posts in 2670 days


#11 posted 02-12-2017 04:39 PM

Don,
I agree about it being a “gimmick”, and with little merit. Personally I have found some of my corrugated planes to also have stiction/vacuum issues. IMO, that is because all of the corrugation lines/areas are isolated along the bottom of the plane. It those lines continued through the very ends of the plane (opening a passage for air), or at least had one drilled through hole for each corrugation, then the “less friction/stiction argument might actually be viable. Just my 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Don W's profile

Don W

18453 posts in 2323 days


#12 posted 02-12-2017 06:26 PM

Thanks guys

If you haven’t seen them, here are some test results.

http://www.timetestedtools.net/2017/02/02/does-corrugation-reduce-friction-on-a-hand-plane/

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Rick.'s profile

Rick.

10092 posts in 2136 days


#13 posted 02-12-2017 08:10 PM

Thanks Don for doing the research and testing.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3269 posts in 1553 days


#14 posted 02-12-2017 08:38 PM


Makes me wonder why neither LN nor Veritas bother to corrugate their work.

- terryR

LN has offered corrugated soles in the past. Have they stopped?

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

13529 posts in 3853 days


#15 posted 02-12-2017 08:48 PM

It used to be an extra charge. When Paul Sellers used to post in the Handplane of your dream thread, he was very anti corrugated sole. I believe his concern was damaging the work piece if you hit it wrong. Not sure if he still is of the same opinion.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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