Plane Crazy archive
Tuesday 5 March 2013
We show you what used to be and why, in the world of hand tools, and whether they are still useful
While attending the Bentley Wood Fair a while ago I wandered around all the tents offering secondhand tools and lust got the better of me. Thirty pounds sterling lighter I had a rather cute Record No.3 bench plane in very fair order looking little used, even the transfer on the hardwood 'tote' - rear handle - was still intact. With its lateral adjustment lever tab 'peened' into place, not just folded steel, I would say at a guess this model is from the mid-1970s. A slightly tight fit on my chunky hand, it is nevertheless a nice tool to handle and often preferable to the much more common and wider No.4.
The second more recent acquisition on eBay is the much rarer No.3C - the C standing for 'corrugated' sole, which is supposed to make planing resinous pine easier. It has a sleeker build than the Record with a more comfortable low front knob and thinner sides to the base casting, which is where the problem is - yes, a crack on either side of the mouth with a long done, 'stitched' repair on one side using tiny steel straps, four screws and rough file work on the outside, and loose on the other side, making it unusable. The tote also had a crack, now reglued. But then this plane according to 'Patrick's Blood and Gore' - seriously! My little marvel is about 110 years old. This is supported by all the design evidence including the inclusion of a lateral lever of a type that is post 1888, while the blade is stamped Pat Ap'l 9.92 (1892). It also has the small thumbwheel and no frog adjusting screw.
Rather than tempting fate with a distortional casting weld, I used an industrial strength epoxy resin and a piece of brass shim to repair the side and painted out in black, opposite the early stitch repair.
After minor tuning and a sharpening session it works really well, producing smooth ribbon shavings, so I think £22 was well spent for a piece of early metal bench plane history.