By Garrett Hack, John Sheldon
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Extra info for The Handplane Book
How do you go about choosing a good plane iron if you need one? Fortunately, few of us will wear out an iron in our working lifetime; if we do, it will probably be a common size for a bench plane. Certainly there are irons available in many modern steel alloys, each with slightly different working characteristics. With modern steelmaking processes and sophisticated means of hardening and tempering, plane irons have probably T H E Q UA L I T Y O F AN I R O N Tsteel for plane irons has he search for the ideal been a difficult one.
Eastern planes use a variation of this wedging system; they have very thick and short single irons wedged into place against a cross-bar, sometimes with either a wooden or steel wedge that does some of the same work as a cap iron. CAS T- IRON PLANES Cast-iron bench planes might look different from their wooden counter parts, but the parts are basically the same. The one-piece cast-iron body has sides machined square with the sole, a mouth and a throat that the shavings pass through, a rear handle and a front P L A N E M E C H A N I C S 31 knob bolted on, and machined faces where the frog attaches.
MATERIALS Wood has always been an important material used in plane making, whether the plane is all wood, primarily cast iron, or somewhere between the two as in transitional planes. Beech is the most common wood, used in all types of wooden bench and molding planes because of its stability, toughness, and density. Some early American plane makers made planes of yellow birch, a wood similar to beech, for probably no other reason than to be different and distinguish their planes from English prototypes.