Super Smoother Hunt

I have been going through my stash of Stanley planes trying to find one I feel suit’s my needs for a super smoother. This was after watching Chris Schwarz video Super-Tune a Hand Plane yet again. First off I know I have a slightly different from normal set of needs as I want the plane particularly for small items so a corrugated bottom will be an issue. Frequently I will be using the plane upside down and running the work piece over the plane.

First I grabbed my #3 from the wall, ugh it’s corrugated, and the frog has larger open areas which is less than optimal. Besides it’s a newer style with a high knob and I was really hoping for a low knob, yes it’s picky of me. Additionally the rear tote is less than a perfect fit, notice there is a gap in the rear.

Then I grabbed the #3 I still have in pieces, yah don’t ask, it’s spread all over the the back bench. Huh, it’s nearly identical to the other one, how disappointing and frustrating.

Next is the #4 on the wall. Low knob, non-kidney screw hole in the lever cap, so far so good it’s the older style I was hoping for. The sole is not corrugated. The iron depth control is backward from the rest of my planes. But it’s so old it don’t have a frog adjustment screw! While this is possible to get working, it would be frustrating to adjust the mouth opening without the screw. Not completely eliminated, certainly less than optimum, though the backward depth adjustment would be annoying.

Hmm, I have another #4, it spent a year in St Louis with a friend. I rummaged through the stuff on the bench, then through a couple of bins that I haven’t fully unpacked from my last classes, there it is. I look it over and this one don’t have the frog adjustment screw either. I grumble to myself and set it down. At least the depth adjustment knob isn’t backward.

I have one Stanley smoother left, it’s a #4-1/2 and I grab it from the wall. Yay, it has the frog adjustment screw, a low knob, non kidney screw hole in the lever cap. But it has a corrugated sole, which is a killer on extremely small pieces. I just can’t win!

So now I have to figure out what to do…

  • Settle on one of the ones I have and live with the less than perfect tool for the job which would still need to be super-tuned
  • Find another new to me smoother online for over $30 plus hours of cleaning and super-tuning
  • Buy a Lie-Nielsen #4 or #4-1/2 for over $325 but has the least amount of work and I can get a higher angle frog
  • Buy a Veritas #4 or #4-1/2 for over $200 and I’m guessing a little bit of of effort
  • Buy a Wood River #4 or #4-1/2 for over $145 and clean off the grease and still likely need to super-tune it at least a good portion of it
  • Refurbish one of the coffin smoothers I have which includes re-soling it and making sure the iron and wedge will still work well
  • Make a new coffin smoother and buy a tapered iron from Lee Valley for $37+ and figure out what wood to use
Left: Stanley #3, Center: Stanley #4, Right: Stanley #4-1/2
Left: Stanley #3, Center: Stanley #4, Right: Stanley #4-1/2

Decisions, decisions, I just have to make up my mind. I know I am being extra picky here, but I want to do this only once and I would like it as close to perfect as I can get. Hand Works is coming in a couple of months, maybe I will put it off until after I have put my hands on some tools there and tested them out.

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