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Hand Planes Dedicated to the galoot's favorite tool - the hand plane.

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Old 02-21-2013, 09:11 PM
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Default Steel, Iron, Bronze or Wood

Hand planes are made of a number of different materials. The ones that immediately come to mind are cast iron, cast bronze, steel (for infills) and wood.

I am curious to know the practical differences between these materials for plane bodies from a user's perspective.
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Old 02-22-2013, 01:55 AM
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Default Re: Steel, Iron, Bronze or Wood

Hi Chris,

I've been studying a lot of materials lately about the different kinds of hand planes, materials, and uses. These materials all weigh different amounts and all wear differently. A wood plane is obviously the lightest and thus you should have less fatigue pushing over and over across a board. But if you push it across a corner like a chamfer you can dig groove lines in the bottom. Some makers are impregnating their wood planes with an epoxy or other hard resin to make it more durable and stable as well. I know lots of people love wood planes because of the feel it has opposed to a metal plane. Steel is obviously the heaviest material, but it is also the least likely to wear. Bronze is somewhere in between as far as weight an wear.

I'm actually considering learning how to make a dovetailed Norris style plane just because they look cool. I've heard that a really good one performs well too, but I've never personally gotten to use one.

What kind of plane are you using currently?
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:45 AM
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Default Re: Steel, Iron, Bronze or Wood

Most of my planes are cast iron. Some are wood.

Steel and cast iron seem the most similar and I'm especially curious to know if they feel or perform differently.
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Old 02-22-2013, 02:43 PM
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Default Re: Steel, Iron, Bronze or Wood

They say, iron absorbs vibration better than steel.
Hard to imagine that the difference could be relevant at the hand plane scale.

Wood or metal?...I think the the biggest factor is mass. Do you prefer the momentum (and shock absorption) the extra mass of a metal bodied plane provides or do you prefer the easier to transport lightweight wood tool?

But there is another significant factor. I like my japanese planes but I haven't used any in a few months and took a look at one last week and the low winter humidity has warped the body so much that it would be nearly ruined to "adjust" at this point. I'll just have to wait for better weather and use the cast iron tool.
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