My Dutch tool chest was made for traveling. And when I’m on the road, I won’t have access to a router table. So to make grooves, I needed a plow plane. Yes, I could take my Veritas small plow plane. But that would violate my rule to only take tools that I could accept—though grudgingly—being lost or stolen.
So I researched vintage (i.e. affordable) plow planes and settled on the Record 043 to serve my box grooving needs. Record is an English company, so it’s not surprising that I found my eBay specimen in Norwich, UK. The price was decent but shipping boosted the final cost to around $80.00. And while the £15.00 shipping fee hurt, the sentimental value of having a tool that comes from my ancestral land takes a spot of the sting away.
Here’s what showed up on my front porch.
After a good sharpening of the 1/8”, 3/16” and ¼” irons, the plane cut decent grooves. Even so, I decided to optimize its performance with a good tuning.
Tuning the Record 043
I read a nice article here that guided me through the tuning process, (see “Will it work out of the box?”).
Lap the skate
The bottom of the skate was slightly out of true, plus showed machine marks from its manufacture. To correct these issues I lapped it through 2000 grit sand paper.
I also checked the edges to remove any burrs or hindering nicks. Now the polished cast iron sails across the wood.
Add a fence
In my opinion, the stock fence is simply too small to deliver, spot-on and consistent grooves. So I crafted a fence out of walnut (½” T x 1 ¼” W x 4 ½ L.) I cut and chiseled a shaving escapement as detailed in the Record 043 owner’s manual.
Then rounded the bottom two corners and chamfered the outside edges.
I finished the fence with Danish oil followed by a liberal waxing of the inside face to minimize friction.
Make shorter fence rods
The stock fence rods are 5 ½” long. What that means is that they extend several inches beyond one side or the other. And that interferes with my grip.
To rectify that, I made 3” rods from some 7mm silver steel that I ordered from Chronos Engineering Supplies.
The shorter length won’t be a problem since I’ll be using this plane for box bottom grooves. And it clears the way to a better grip.
I sharpened the irons with a 30 degree bevel. The manual calls for 35 degrees. The 30 degrees has worked fine so far. But choose for yourself.
Testing the Record 043
With the tuning and fence done, I set up the plane to make a 1/8” test groove.
That resulted in a pretty clean groove.
Which fit some 1/8” plywood very nicely.
Comfortable to use, perfect for grooving role
The 043 is surprisingly comfortable to use. And it performs the box/drawer grooving role quite well. So now my Dutch tool chest has that base covered.
Though after using it for a while, I must confess that I would be mightily disappointed if this plane was lost or stolen :)
© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.
-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."