The Circular Plane – Flexibility when you need it
Circular plane, compass plane, radius plane, ship’s plane, this is a plane with a lot of names. But when all is said and done, it is an iron plane with a flexible sole that can be adjusted to allow the user to smooth convex and concave surfaces. Stanley, Record and Kunz (and others) have made flexible sole planes. Kunz’s113 plane is still in production. All three makers chose to use the same numeric designation for these types of planes (with Record opting to put a zero in front of the numbers).
Years ago, I owned a Kunz 113. It was a very nice tool, but I rarely used it. In a “fit of angst” (and wanting money for some other purchase), I opted to sell it. For many years following the sale, I used other methods to smooth curved surfaces. Then not so long ago, a friend “forced” me to take a box full of old Stanley planes out of his shop. He was just “tired of tripping over them” and wanted them gone. Along with several very nice Type 11’s, I found an old 113. Pitted and lacking much of its old Japanned lustre, the tool seemed sound enough, the adjustments true and smooth. So, I parked it on the shelf designated for “seldom used planes” (the largest shelf in the shop).
Last week I needed to smooth a chair crest. So I retrieved the old 113 and put it to work. Despite having spent quite some time in “plane limbo”, it performed admirably (on elm, no less).
While not an everyday user, (unless you build rocking chairs for a living), a circular plane might prove to be a very valuable addition to your kit.
If you’d like to know about Stanley Planes, Patrick Leach’s “Blood and Gore” is loaded with information. And, by the way, Mr. Leach appears to prefer the performance of the No. 20. (Once you’ve pinched a finger in the adjusting “teeth” or lose your curve after absent-mindedly grasping the adjustment knob, thinking it a hand-hold, you may agree with him.) For Record plane fans, www.record-plane-reviews.co.uk is the place to go.