Small Coffin Smoother Cleanup (Part 1) The Iron

I looked over this small coffin smoother quite close before I purchased it. The sole was in pretty good shape, and the mouth appeared to be quite tight. The iron looked reasonably long, though I couldn’t take it out before purchasing. There was a small crack just behind the eye. They typical spots of beige paint splatter. The wood was a bit dry and felt grimy as one would expect for a tool that hadn’t been used in years.

Small dirty coffin smoother, bottom.
Small dirty coffin smoother, bottom.

The first order of business was to remove the wedge and iron. A couple of good wacks with an appropriate mallet and it came out. The top iron is reasonably short, but I like the shape of it. The cutting iron was nice and long, and had a very large and steep secondary bevel. After dis-assembly of the iron, I put all the parts in the citric acid bath for a bit. This removed most of the rust, and with a light scrub from a gentle stainless steel wire brush they cleanup up nicely.

Small dirty coffin smoother, upside down and disassembled.
Small dirty coffin smoother, components are upside down.

Next the iron went to the sharpening stones, most of the time was spent on the extra coarse getting rid of the harsh angle on the secondary bevel. While I didn’t regrind a full primary bevel, I did redefine a large portion of it but I didn’t want to waste the steel to take it back another 1/8″ to bet a full primary bevel. I also flattened the back quite a bit. I didn’t quite go all the way as I normally do because I am going to put a back bevel on it eventually. Both sides of the iron went through the ranges of grits I have and I even stropped it at the end.

Small dirty coffin smoother, disassembled.
Small dirty coffin smoother, disassembled.

I only did a little bit of work on the top iron, I was impatient and wanted to see how it would cut. So I reassembled the plane and with a bunch of tapping and testing I was able to take some nice fine cuts on oak. A bit more adjustment tapping and I grabbed a piece of curly maple. With my Stanley planes I had been getting tear out on this particular piece of maple, but not with the small coffin smoother. I’m impressed, and I know I have more tweaking and adjusting to go still. For some reason the shavings seem to get hung up once in a while, I hope its nothing I can’t resolve.

Partially tuned small coffin smoother cutting curly maple.
Partially tuned small coffin smoother cutting curly maple.

Back at the sharpening stones I straightened the top iron as it didn’t line up as well as it should when attached to the iron. Next I flattened the contact point of the top iron. The top iron now mates with the cutting iron, now no shaving should get stuck under the top iron while in use. Then I polished the front edge of the top iron, this will decrease the friction and help the shavings come out of the mouth better. I also added a very small back bevel to the iron, this will steepen the cutting angle and further minimize tear out.

Coffin smoother plane irons after initial cleanup.
Coffin smoother plane irons after initial cleanup.

My results so far have been extremely promising, this could very well be my super smoother! Next I will work on cleaning up the wood parts of the plane.

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