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Some of my Plane.  Mostly 9 s  and look alike.

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I admit it.  I've got too many planes.  I can't help stopping at every stall in the flea market that carries used tools for a look see.   After I got into rod building my habit only got worse.  Stopping by the local home improvement stores over the course of a year I ended up with both a new low angle and regular block plane.  I'm happy to report that I've done a fairly good job of removing the temptation.  That is... I now own all the available cheep block planes that are useable for rod building.
Unlike a screwdriver, saw, or hammer, the block plane is a complex tool.    By that I mean they requires some understanding of how they work, how to adjust them and how to make them work better.

The term "Block Plane," when applied to rod building generally means the Stanley 9 or it's later relatives.  Beside Stanley, Record, Lie-Nielsen and several other makers build Block planes.   Sears and other outlets often sold versions of this plane under their own names.  They all have the following in common.

1. They can be comfortably used with one hand.
2. They have an adjustable throat
3. They have a mechanically adjustable blade.

Most of the planes have the blade set at between 20 and 25 , with the angle of the blade ground to about 30 degrees.   Some of the planes (referred to collectively as 60)  have blades set as low as 12.  These planes are not usually useful for rod building because the low angel will tear the long, thin bamboo  fibers. (I do have a new Stanley low angle that seems to work very well, with a very steep blade angle.)

Let's look at a 9 block plane.  The terms used to describe the parts are fairly self explanatory, but different people call some parts different names.  I want to  give you a list of the terms I'll use.  In some cases I've seen the same part called out by another name, but in all cases I'm using a term I've seen before.
 

Parts of a 9 1/2 Block plane

     A. Cap screw
     B. Iron Cap
     C. Iron or Blade
     D. Lateral adjustment lever
     E. Depth adjustment wheel
     F. Adjustment wheel screw
     G. body
     H. Toe (front foot) 
      I. Eccentric toe adjustment lever
     J. Toe screw
 


 
There are two basic in and out adjustment designs.  The lever action has a lever with teeth on the top that fit in groves in the bottom of the blade.  The  lever is held in place by a horizontal pin that's centered under the teeth.  A knob that's set on short,  threaded rod at the back of the plane controls the lever. Screwing the knob up and down moves the  blade in and out. 

The second way the blade moves in and out is by an endless screw that runs parallel  to the blade.  Some kind of "truck" fits into the bottom of the blade and attached to the endless screw.  Turning the knob on the back of the screw moves the  truck (and the blade) in  and out.

The plane on the left has the new endless screw adjustment and the one on the right has the older lever style.
Both types have some kind of horizontal lever that will adjust the blade laterally in the opposite direction the lever is moved.  The whole thing is usually held in place by a screw that goes thought the cap iron into the body.   This screw can be adjusted to make the adjustments very tight or very loose.  (Tight might not be right.  Wayne Cattanach says he leaves his as lose as he can.)
 
Plane Soles
Turn the plane over and look at the bottom (called the sole).  Even though it doesn't look like there's much there we'll be spending quite a bit of time looking at this critical area. 

It's made up of two parts: the bottom of the body and the adjustable front portion, called a number of names, from the adjustable sole, to the front foot.  (I'll call it the toe just because it's easy to type.).

The slot between the toe and the body is where the blade will rest.  It's also the area that allows the shavings to escape.  It's called the  mouth or throat and should be adjustable to the point the toe touches the blade.

Slotted soles
One modification some builders make to their planes is the addition of a 3/4 to 1" wide slot, .003 to .005 deep down the center of their plane sole.  This allows the plane to rest on the form without the blade cutting, scraping or nicking the form.   I made my own slot on two of my planes by simply cutting a piece of sandpaper and --using spray-- adhesive, attaching it about 1/2 inch from one edge of my flat surface.  Then it was rub, rub, rub until the sandpaper cut into the metal.  It's a slow process and anyone who wants to do it that way should think about finding a good machine shop.

There are a few other things you should know about block planes.  For example not all block planes have an adjustable throat.  The Stanley 110 is a example.  While useful for a few rod building  jobs, they won't do for final planing.

A Block plane should fit your hand, be adjustable and light enough not to tire but heavy enough to stay on top of the strip.  The following table has information on some of the planes I own.

   MAKE
  LENGTH OPEN  THROAT
OPEN
THROAT
CLOSED
WIDTH  WT.
 ?  7 in .161 .050 1 7/8 22 oz.
Stanley 6 5/16 .136 .042 1 7/8 20 oz.
Sears 6 1/2 .276 .075 2 23 oz
MILLER FALLS  6 1/2 .245  .135 1 15/16 22.5 oz.
 ? 6 1/4 .273 .056 2 25 oz.
New Stanley 6 3/8 .245 .000! 2 27.5 oz.
You can see that most block planes will be between 6 1/4" and seven inches long, by 2 inches or    less wide and weigh about 1 1/2 lb..  Which one is right for you depends on things like the size of your hand and how you hold and use your plane.  Some planes just work better for me then others

Let's explore the sole of a block plane

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