The Wood Shepherd on Planes
As you can tell by now, planes are an incredibly multi-faceted subject, which is why they so easily attract Galoots (like crows to shiny objects!) When wood meets metal in careful manners, some truly beautiful things happen. In the late 1800's British gentlemen with names like Spiers and Norris began making the Rolls-Royce of hand planes, the infill plane. With the outer shell of the body made out of metal, the infill is so named because fitted into the metal casing is usually some sort of exotic wood such as ebony or rosewood.
The masters machined their metals to close tolerances, and infills are sometimes machined out of a single billet, sometimes the sides are dovetailed to the base, and sometimes the sides are riveted. The luxurious exotic woods were hand-fitted into the base, and the entire plane was carefully polished to a high luster. And the term "luster" would describe any Galoot longing for one of these!
Infills gained the reputation on the Old Tools email list as being the playground of well-off yuppies, and carried a moniker that adequately and bitterly described how we that are have-nots felt about that. Enough said; just say that infill planes will change the way you look at any plane once you try one.
Recently there have been a number of "cottage industry" infill plane makers emerging around the world, and they all seem to be producing planes that at least equal the originals for quality, fit, finish, and use-ability. I've had the opportunity to visit with a number of them, and every one was clearly doing what they loved to do, and making a product they loved to make and use.
The above information is only intended as a plane primer; listen to episodes 11 & 12 of my podcast for more information, or feel free to email me at mack (at) thewoodshepherd (dot) com.
Tool Information and Lore:
New (Quality) Hand Plane Manufacturers: