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What's the big deal with infill planes?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 08-15-2011 05:04 AM 3305 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Brett

660 posts in 2148 days


08-15-2011 05:04 AM

Okay, I realize my question is probably something of a sacrilege, but what is the big deal with infill planes? Granted, they’re definitely beautiful, but I’ve read comments that they even work better than other types of planes. Why would that be so?

-- More tools, fewer machines.


14 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

8313 posts in 3113 days


#1 posted 08-15-2011 05:10 AM

More concentrated mass over the mouth = more pressure + speed = more chatoyancy..

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WayneC

12642 posts in 3563 days


#2 posted 08-15-2011 05:15 AM

Lol = in other words, they are wicked heavy, well made and they plane very well. Also, there were not as many made as the stanley style bench planes so they have strong collector value.

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

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Don W

17971 posts in 2033 days


#3 posted 08-15-2011 05:17 AM

i think they are less likely to be mass produced in the way the Stanley’s are, so along with everything above, they also have more attention to detail. Generally speaking of course.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

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Brett

660 posts in 2148 days


#4 posted 08-15-2011 05:22 AM

Are they really that much heavier? If you compare two 9” smoothing planes, one a Stanley and the other a quality infill plane of some sort, how much heavier is the infill?

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2105 days


#5 posted 08-15-2011 05:27 AM

... plus, when the “collectors” have all the regular planes, all the saws, all the braces and bits, all the chisels, hatchets, mallets, etc. then any other category of tool is ripe for jock exploitation. ;=)

It’s actually less expensive to stay busy constantly buying old stuff and restoring it than to use the tools you have to build projects.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

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Loren

8313 posts in 3113 days


#6 posted 08-15-2011 05:31 AM

I think Stanley mostly just kicked the butt of the infill plane makers
by undercutting them with efficiencies of scale and automation.

Thus, rarity in part contributes to the mythology.

I like my Lie-Nielsens, but I can do work just as fine with my Baileys
and if I had to I could make my own wood planes and do the same
work. The iron how sharp it is and the skill or the craftsman matter
the most in terms of end results.

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Brett

660 posts in 2148 days


#7 posted 08-15-2011 02:04 PM

David, it’s especially easy to stay busy buying and selling old tools when the your workshop is in your garage and the daytime temperatures are 108. :)

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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Newage Neanderthal

190 posts in 2016 days


#8 posted 08-15-2011 10:17 PM

On a good infill, The bed (not a frog) will seat the blade all the way down, it will have a thick blade, the mouth will be just open enough to allow a shaving to pass, and it will feel warm and creamy in your hands. Basically, you have little to no adjustment. It does one thing, and it does it well. Little to no tear out, chatter, etc. Kinda like asking whats the big deal about a 1963 Ferrari GTO when a new Kia will get you down the road. MMMMM, 1963 Ferrari GTO, umm what, planes, oh yeah.

-- www.newageneanderthal.blogspot.com . @NANeanderthal on twitter

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Bertha

13003 posts in 2159 days


#9 posted 08-15-2011 10:35 PM

I just think they’re gorgeous. How does a pristine Spiers infill plane perform? Hell if I know; I’ve never even touched one!

Doesn’t keep me from wanting one.
Really badly.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Brett's profile

Brett

660 posts in 2148 days


#10 posted 08-15-2011 10:54 PM

I think they’re gorgeous, too. I’m just not sure if the wood cares. :)

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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Bertha

13003 posts in 2159 days


#11 posted 08-15-2011 10:58 PM

Nah, I don’t think the wood gives a crud. As an admirer, not an owner, I look at it like this: what designs are the guys at the top of the food chain (Philip Marcou, etc.) making? For the most part, they’re making infills. We’ve got Lie Nielsen for modern Stanleys and Bridge City for futuristic stuff. I just think the infill is a timeless design with a remarkable beauty.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View lwllms's profile

lwllms

555 posts in 2747 days


#12 posted 08-16-2011 03:39 AM

At the time of the introduction of the double iron in the last half of the 18th Century plane making like many industries were in a state of change, going from purchasing goods from a local maker to purchasing more distantly made goods from a retailer. It was the beginning of the industrial revolution with mass production and mass marketing.

Profitability of mass production increases when things can be simplified. Up until this point each type of hand plane was available in four different pitches—common (45º), York (50º), middle (55º) and half (60º). Molding planes with their complex profiles didn’t lend themselves to simplification but bench planes did.

By using double irons the process only had to make, package, store, ship and display only one of each size of plane rather than four. They told woodworker that cap irons eliminated the need for anything other than common pitch, a marketing ploy that still holds some ground today. The British switched their common pitch to 47 ½º for their bench planes but American makers stayed with 45º.

When metal plane makers came along they copied the bed angles used by wooden plane makers. Metal plane makers also used double irons. These metal plane makers stayed with the pitch used in the respective countries. As the industrial revolution progressed, it eventually led to factory made furniture produced by machines.

Carpenters found their changing work environment favored metal planes. Wooden plane production pretty much parallels the number of people employed in the bench trades. In Great Britain, where small neighborhood cabinet makers stayed common through the 1950’s, wooden plane production continued until the 1960’s.

Eventually, Stanley pretty much took over the carpentry market here and in Great Britain. With their 47 ½º bed angles British infills out performed that common pitch Stanley planes in hard woods so infills held a part of the British market until around the mid 1950’s.

In the 1970’s woodworking became a popular pass-time. With their extra 2 ½º of bed angle and the “OOOhhhhh” factor of brass and exotic woods, infills developed a mystique and reputation. Just a few write-ups in magazines and suddenly every woodworker coveted an infill.

The reality is that the slightly higher common pitch of British double iron planes, including infills, isn’t as effective a the traditional pitches.

Just a brief bit of history to which I could add a lot.

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Brett

660 posts in 2148 days


#13 posted 08-16-2011 04:35 PM

lwllms, thanks for the info. I enjoyed reading it.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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lenpam

7 posts in 1991 days


#14 posted 08-17-2011 03:55 AM

Just out of curiosity how many of the posters own and use infill planes? I’ve been collecting and using them for a number of years and I’ve yet to meet a woodworker who uses them who doesn’t think they are the best working planes available be they good older ones or new age infills. It’s a nice plus they look good and have a lot of style.but that’s secondary to their abillity to work wood. The benefits are inclusive to their construction where heavy irons bedded on wood for most of the irons length vitually negates the faults of metal planes such as chatter,jumping and skipping on hard woods. The fact is making infills is a long arduous and intensive job when made the traditional way and is why much of the cost is so much higher the a mass produced metal plane. Their weight is for the most part a big plus since combined with the well bedded and thick cutting iron they can outperform and outlast metal planes,a good infill hand plane will cut for a much longer period then it’s mass produced cousin the metal plane and do so with an iron that isn’t very sharp any longer. That sounds crazy doesn’t it but it’s one the first things you’ll notice when using a good infill smoother,there isn’t any tear out even after you’ve been at it a while and you know that iron has lost a good deal of it’s sharpness. I think the reason they fell out use[notice “use” not out of “favor”] was the cost factor of making them compared to the mass production techniques of Stanley and it’s competitors in the later 19th and 20th centuries. Even in their heyday infills cost a great deal because of the labor involved in making one,so many woodworkers found the cheaper Stanley offerings an alternative they could choose opposed to say Norris or Spiers planes. There were many other quality makers like Henry Slater and many unknown makers especially in Scotland and the UK that made these handmade masterpieces and all were eventual victims to the Stanley type mass produced affordable workingman planes. The feeling of using a well made and well tuned infill plane is something you need to experience before you understand the fascination with them. They aren’t cheap by any means and the very good old ones are getting harder and harder to find.The new makers of quality infills like Wayne Anderson and Konrad Sauer made by hand in the old technique as well the fantastic machined wizardry of Karl Holty still have their place in the workshops of many affectionatos of infill planes. The beauty combined with function is in a catagory all it’s own,so get your self one of find one to try and then you’ll see why all the fuss. Len

-- INFILL MAGNET

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