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Coffin Smoother

Coffin Smoother
My Dad recently gave me a plane of his, a coffin smoother. He is a sculptor mainly working in metal.
I have fallen in love with this old and battered plane and am appreciating its uses and qualities. I am newish to the use of planes, although I have renovated a few metal record planes and old wooden ones. The plank of wood you see in the picture is 4 x 13 inch and 6,1/2 feet long, an inch too wide to fit through my planer thicknesser. Out came the planes, and Dan and I had to take the wind out and level smooth. We both by far preferred the wood planes, they just glided over the wood, light and warm to the touch. This is all very subjective, but these things certainly add to the pleasure of the work in hand.
I have a lot to learn about planes, and I think one of the problems with both these planes is the rather large mouth size. In the larger plane the shavings all bunch up in the throat. I think it is time for an insert to be fitted to reduce the mouth size.
This plank of wood is being made into a bench, the “mortice” joints you see are sliding tapered dovetail joints. The female parts are easy to cut, but the male tenons are not that easy and take a long time to pare down to fit. More about this in a later blog.

2 thoughts on “Coffin Smoother

  1. Sean, that looks like a really nice plane. The high bed angle means it should work well with figured wood, provided the mouth is tight. The larger jack planes work best with an open mouth and cambered iron so you can really hog out big chips in a speedy way. The next size up—the jointer— works well if it has a slightly cambered iron and not too tight a mouth. It cleans up the marks left by the jack.

    If you want to learn more about handplanes, I suggest searching Chris Schwarz' blog or getting his book on handplanes. All of the above are things I learned from him. Happy planing! :o)

  2. Sean, that is a lovely old coffin smoother. I love planes and planing. It looks like a "York pitch" plane to me, i.e. 57 deg pitch. Good for hard, gnarly wood. You are right in thinking you have to close down the throat a bit. Typical for a York-pitch plane would be 1-3 mm; the old books say 1/16". The tighter the throat the finer the shaving. A very, very good book on planes is "The Handplane Book" by Garret Hack. Most of what I know about planes I learned from that book. I confess to being a hand pplane freak. I own about 15 of them and I don't think I have enough!

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