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Corrugated sole, or smooth?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 1099 days ago 4143 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Brett

621 posts in 1307 days


1099 days ago

Practically speaking, is there much of a different between the effectiveness of metal hand planes with corrugated soles and those without? I’ve flatted the soles of both types, and a corrugated sole is obviously much easier (I ‘bout kilt myself on a smooth No. 7), but I’m wondering about usage.

Are there certain tasks that corrugated planes are better at, and other tasks at which smooth-soles excel? I read that corrugated planes are supposed to have less friction, but as an engineer I know that friction is not affected by the surfaces area of the sole, just the weight (or force) and the types of materials involved. However, the corrugations do come into play when a plane is used at a slight skew angle , or when it’s being used to joint the edge of a board, so that comparison is not completely valid.

Anybody have any real-life experience in using both types, and can you tell us which types you prefer for specific tasks?

-- More tools, fewer machines.


27 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15683 posts in 2842 days


#1 posted 1099 days ago

I have both types in my collection, and I don’t find there is a noticeable difference. I suspect it is one of those things where some people will swear by one or the other, though.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Loren's profile

Loren

7386 posts in 2272 days


#2 posted 1099 days ago

The corrugations are said to reduce suction on smoother surfaces.

I like corrugated jack planes. Dunno why exactly.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View wingate_52's profile

wingate_52

219 posts in 1194 days


#3 posted 1099 days ago

Use a corrugated plane on a resious material such as Pitch Pine to remove stiction. Oily woods like Iroko and Teak are others that are sticky and the corrugated planes are more easier to use .

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cabmaker

1304 posts in 1433 days


#4 posted 1099 days ago

I have both and honestly I prefer a smooth sole simply because It is much easier for me to sight the iron alighnment. And basic physics would tell me that there may be less friction with a C sole but your not likely to encounter that as an issue unless you intend on doing lots and lots of surface planing (as in several hours a day).

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Bertha

12951 posts in 1317 days


#5 posted 1099 days ago

^I’m with Loren. I go corrugated when I have a choice but I have no good reason why. I’ve been trying to get our friend, Dan, to do a side-by-side objective comparison with his two 4 1/2’s. In my mind, my corrugated jointer puts up less resistance. The jury’s out, I suppose.

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

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3302 posts in 1278 days


#6 posted 1099 days ago

My jack takes a lot of abuse. I went with corrugated just to make truieing the bottom easier.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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WayneC

12260 posts in 2721 days


#7 posted 1099 days ago

Only voice I have heard in oposition to corrugated soles was from Paul Sellers. He indicated they can hang up on the work and recommends they be left to the collectors. It was in one of his plane threads, perhaps the buying planes off of ebay thread. I personally have not had any issues with them, but given Paul’s depth of experience, I would put some weight into this arguement.

One other thing that people say is that you can lap the sole of a corrugated plane flat quicker than you can with flat soled one. Again, I have not had an issue lapping either type of sole.

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

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wingate_52

219 posts in 1194 days


#8 posted 1099 days ago

Some say that the sole of the corrugated plane is thicker, same or more mass with less friction, sounds a winner.

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Dan

3543 posts in 1504 days


#9 posted 1097 days ago

I have both corrugated and smooth versions of my #3, 4, 4 1/2, 5, 6, and 7 and I am pretty sure I like the corrugated ones better. It is impossible for me to explain why I like corrugated soles its just a feeling I have when using. You would have to use both to know if you can feel a difference or not. I don’t think one sole is better then the other and I cant point out a negative that one has that the other one doesn’t.

Wayne mentioned a discussion post on another post where Paul Sellers gives his thoughts on corrugated soles. Paul’s thoughts if I remember correctly are the corrugated soles get clogged with shavings in the grooves while using which can cause you to be planing on an on even surface. I believe that was his main negative but correct me if I am wrong, I read it a while ago.

I do not agree with Paul’s view on the corrugated soles. I don’t doubt the fact that shavings can get caught up under the sole but I cant say I have ever had that problem. I am sure its probably happened to me before but its not happened enough to even recall it happening. I also cant say I have never had shavings get caught up under my smooth bottom planes. Just has not been an issue at all for me. I would never say the corrugated soles should be left for the collectors as mine have been great users for me and work just as well as my smooth sole planes.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

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WayneC

12260 posts in 2721 days


#10 posted 1097 days ago

I went back and looked and confirmed the discussion was in the ebay plane thread I listed above… My intent is only to show the first post I have seen related to negative aspects of corrugated soles. I would recommend going and reading the post in context and reading the entire post if you have not already read it. It is a pretty interesting discussion.

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/27774

Paul

The advice is bad, Al. I do not usually intercede between the decisions and advice of others, but I do, in this case, want to go on record with reference to corrugated soles. A friend went against the sage advice of his elder mentor craftsmen and bought one of the corrugated soled versions decades ago. Every time he used it the grooves clogged with wafer thin shavings, just as he had been warned. I mean with every swipe the sole sucked in the shavings on the return stroke as it sometimes does with regular flat soles, but a thousand more times in a day. I wish this maker had done the research and asked a few older woodworkers before going into production. Reduces friction? Maybe some. Ever tried running a chamfer with a corrugated soled plane. It works; but only now and again. Break the corners on a box, sure, but it’s risky on a finished piece.
Let me know how you go on. I don’t in any way want to hurt any reputations but some people are going to be taken in by a pretty face. Don’t ever use a corrugated soled plane on veneer work or fine work. You’ll pay the price.

Follow-on Question from me
Interesting. Paul, would you see any issues with corrugated soles on jack or jointer planes?

Paul’s response
Absolutely. The fact that corrugations are there means that any slight skewing along narrower edges or near the long corners or any slight tilt on the plane causes the corrugation to catch on the corner of the wood and this tears the corner sometimes. No, oftentimes.

Now if you are a collector person, which I hope you are not, this would be a great addition. In fact I strongly recommend that all plane collectors, that is those who merely perceive planes and tools as relics of a past woodworking era to be displayed for entertainment and amusement, should buy up every corrugated plane they can find and amass a wonderful collection. That way we wont have to address this issue ever again except to say these planes are highly sought after collector items equal in use to the woodworker to the Stanley #1.

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

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1317 days


#11 posted 1097 days ago

Like Wayne, I always defer to experience. In my limited experience, I tend to prefer the corrugations for ease of lapping and ease of waxing. I can certainly imagine how chamfering might become problematic, should the corner ride a groove; however, the mouth is spared the grooving. I’ll continue to use the corrugated ones in spite of the respected advice. I guess it’s a personal thing until Dan releases his 4 1/2 study;)

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

View Loren's profile

Loren

7386 posts in 2272 days


#12 posted 1097 days ago

I’ve used corrugated jacks for years and never noticed any of the problems
Paul complains about… perhaps the problems are related to technique.

I lift the plane slightly onto to right edge one the backstroke so as not the
dull the iron. I never did it to prevent clogged shavings, but perhaps
the method does that as well.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2072 posts in 1264 days


#13 posted 1097 days ago

Paul’s planes are so much sharper so much faster than ours. There’s “no telling” what he is uniquely experiencing. ;=)

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

View Dan's profile

Dan

3543 posts in 1504 days


#14 posted 1097 days ago

”Every time he used it the grooves clogged with wafer thin shavings, just as he had been warned”

I will say again I have never had this problem with any of my corrugated planes. I have no problem using the corrugated soles on fine woodworking. I don’t doubt Paul has run into these problems with the corrugated soles but I would never suggest one not to use them.

David made a good point saying there is no telling what he is uniquely experiencing. That is very true. Where one user may have issues with a tool another user may have a completely different experience with the same tool.

It will be a never ending debate but I will stick with the opinion that both types of soles will work just fine.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1317 days


#15 posted 1097 days ago

Like Loren mentions, if you skew the plane during a cut, the corrugations should be moot. I can’t imagine the corrugations “clogging” but that’s not to imply that it couldn’t happen. It’s just hard for me to imagine. Lol with David. My marking gauge is the fastest on the block.

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

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