By Garrett Hack, John Sheldon

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M A SS When it comes to the plane's mass, all things being equal, a heavier plane is more stable, better able to support the iron and dampen cutting vibration, and able to cut a lot more smoothly. Taken to the extreme, we would all want planes about as heavy as we could comfortably lift, cast from pure kryptonite or some other incredibly dense space-age material. Such planes might work amazingly well, but we'd get pretty tired after a few minutes. What's important is to balance adequate mass for good functioning with how the plane feels during extended use.

In the days when plane irons were commonly thick and heavy, a cap iron was less important because the iron was rigid enough on its own. But when Bailey and Stanley introduced a very thin iron (presumably because it was easier to grind and hone), a well-fitting cap iron became very important for best results. Before thin irons became standard issue, two versions of a thick iron were common: parallel or gauged irons and tapered irons. As the name implies, a parallel iron is of equal thickness from end to end.

Auburn even competed by using prison labor1 By World War I there were few buyers left for wooden planes. The bright side is that wooden planes never disappeared entirely. They persisted longer in England, again because of the conservatism of the trades and a surplus of labor. That is why English molding planes can be found that cut Victorian moldings, whereas in this country such moldings were typically machine made. E. never stopped making wooden planes either, although there seem to be fewer and fewer available in woodworking catalogs these days.

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