I have a wide collection of tools, be it power tools which take the hassles out of long arduous DIY jobs such as drilling, cutting, sanding and even sawing. But sometimes those power tools are such that little bit too powerful for the more delicate tasks around the home, or maybe that electric drill is too far away from the nearest plug socket, so it's back to the old fashioned hand tool so that you can complete the task.
One particular hand tool that I own, and have used for quite some time know, even though I also own an electrical machine of its type which does the job in a fraction of the time, is a strange little thing called a plane
"What, you own a plane?" I hear you shouting, "are you Richard Branson then?"
No, it's not that sort of plane, it is a plane that carpenter or joiners use when they have to smooth down a piece of wood, so the chances of it flying are pretty slim indeed, although not impossible if things on the joinery front don't go quite right, (but that's another story).
Anyway, this plane that I have, and am talking about today, is called a single blade plane and is made by the chaps that are possibly best known for there skills in making cutting knives, although they also branch out into making an assortment of tools such as hammer, clamps, measures, saws, screwdrivers and more. But it's the SB4 single blade plane that I am going to tell you about here.
Let's take a look at it...
The first thing you'll notice is that it has a know on one end, a nice curving handle on the other and what looks like a small piece of metal which is trapped by a bolt on another piece of metal, albeit a red coloured one. The trapped metal piece, which is actually the blade, has two little 'screws', one either end, with the blade sitting in the centre of them, which when turned lifts and drops the blade, with the bolt on the red metal piece keeping the blade in the position you want it.
Everything, that's the handle, knob and metal bits, are all attached to a flat piece of metal, or the 'shoe' as it likes to be known, which is as flat as Adele (the singers) voice, only this 'shoe' is a lot smoother.
The main body is made of a solid, and I mean solid, piece of metal, one complete piece so there's no danger of any welds coming apart if you treat this a bit rough, or even drop it on a hard surface. On the underside there is a single slot, and that's it, one single slot from side to side which the blade slides in and out of.
The blade itself is also made of a single piece of metal with one end 'shaved' into a fine edge so that it can cut through the wood, shaving slices off as you go.
The handle is curved in such a way that it feels so comfortable in the hand, whilst giving the user, (that's you and me) , plenty of control as it glides along the wood.
The plane itself is around 240mm long by about 50mm wide, with the height at the handle being about 140mm, and the entire thing weighs about 1.4kg, so it won't make your arm ache as you plane away.
That's it really.
That is what this plane looks like.
It's as plane as, well, as plane as a plane.
Is it easy to use..?
One word, YES, it is, (that's three words isn't it? So just look at the YES).
Once you've set the correct height for the blade then all you do with this is slide it along your piece of wood, taking a fraction off on every slide.
You just grip the back handle with one hand, take hold of the knob on the front with your other hand, then, with a little bit of downward pressure on the front end and a sort of forward bit of pushing on the back handle, you simply push the plane forwards over the wood you want to shave.
Simple as that.
The hardest part is actually getting the blade at the right height as if it's not out enough, or too high, then you'll take nothing or next to nothing off the wood. But if it's set to low, or sticking out too much, then you'll take too much off the wood and the smooth action you desire turns into a jerky motion like a teenager on there first driving lesson, kangarooing along.
So how do you adjust the blade then..?
Firstly you have to unscrew the single 'bolt' which is on the front red metal piece, this then loosens the 'trapped' metal piece, or the blade as you will. Then you can adjust the blade itself, up and down, higher and lower, by turning the two 'screw' type dials which are situated at the top of the blade itself. The little dials on each 'screw', when turned, will either lower the entire section of the blade or lower it, with each 'screw' being individual set, which allows you to lower or higher one side of the blade at a time.
Once you've got the blade to the height you want then you simply tighten up the single screw on the red metal piece and 'trap' the blade into place.
I do have to say that this process, getting the blade to the prefect position, can take a bit of time and a lot of patience, sometimes maybe even a few errors in the wood you're planing. But if you take your time that perfect position can be found so that you take just the right amount of 'shaving' off the wood you're working on.
This is brilliant for those 'little' jobs that a larger plane, or electric plane would be a little bit over the top.
When it's held in the hand if feels like a tool should feel, solid and a good weight, solid and robust, giving the impression that it is designed well for the job it is intended for, and a good job it does, without any real hassles at all
The handle not only looks good it is shaped in such a way so that it feels comfortable in my hand and with the smooth finish to it there's absolutely no danger of any splinters in your fingers and thumbs.
Then there's the little 'knob' at the front which is used more as a guide so that you can manoeuvre the plane with ease, shaving the wood with one smooth motion, almost like a curving action and you control the motion with the front 'knob'.
As I mentioned though, getting the blade out to the perfect depth can take a bit of time but once found, and locked on, it will shave away any unwanted wood in a smooth manner, without making a mess of the work you're taking pride in.
Adjusting the blade is another task that can take a bit of getting used to, turning one of the little dials at a time, with each side of the blade moving independently, until the blade is where you want it.
But again, once done, and locked on, there's no stopping it.
But I do have to say that when the blade is out of the shoe, like any other plane really, this plane should not be placed flat on a surface as this could damage the blade, which could lead to damage to the wood you're working on.
When you have to put it down either lay it on its side or place a small piece of something, maybe scrap wood or even a pencil, under the end of the 'shoe' so that the entire thing lifts off the surface.
And the price to get that piece of wood as smooth as Duncan Goodyear's head is a mere £20.00, or there abouts, which for this solid and long lasting piece of equipments is a cracking price indeed.
Would I recommend this?
Yes, without a doubt, especially for the small price, although if you've no need for something that smooths wood then maybe give it a miss.
I do have to say that there are several different makes of hand planes on the market, some good, some bad and some that aren't worth the metal they're made of. So do shop around for a decent plane, one like this Stanley one that will last you a long time.
© Blissman70 2012