Hooked on Hand Tools – No. 3 Plane:
Randy Maxey gets hooked on hand tools and this time it is the No. 3 plane.
I cut my teeth on an old Stanley 4-1/2 smoothing plane. But, for me, it was too bulky for most of the work I do. When a friend found this No. 3 plane in a trash dumpster, he called and asked if I wanted it. “Absolutely!”
When he brought it to me, I took it apart, cleaned it, and fettled it to take thin shavings. I was curious about the black, plastic knob. Every plane I owned up to that point featured a brass adjustment knob. After a little research, I discovered that this is a “World War II” plane. During the war, brass was rationed and used for artillery. Stanley decided to use a material known as “Bakelite” for the adjustment knobs. Bakelite is the same material used to make the old telephones. It is the first synthetic plastic ever made. It was patented in 1909 by a German chemist.
This old No. 3 is now my go-to plane. It’s the one that sees the most use. It’s just the right size for many planing tasks, fits in my hands nicely, and is just a joy to use. I call in my “World War II plane.”