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Marples Prefabricated Smoothing Plane


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Although in some ways it might be seen as taking a step backwards by using a beech wood body, the Marples "Prefabricated" Smoothing plane is quite a nice little hand plane to have around the workshop.

Created in the late 1950's and possibly to serve a more "budget-conscious" market, the plane soon found favor at many of the schools in England who adopted these planes as an alternative to the more traditional wooden hand planes. Because it came equipped with an adjustable Stanley type frog it made it relatively easy to get good results at a cheaper price than buying a cast iron hand plane made by Stanley or Record. Unfortunately not long after this plane was released on to the market, William Marples was bought out and absorbed into the Record Ridgeway company and the planes were soon withdrawn from production. It's a shame as these planes feel comfortable and are quite nice to use.

Having an all wooden stock or body meant that the plane did wear out quicker, but no quicker than a normal wooden bench plane. Because the frog was fixed, being screwed to the back piece by two wood screws, there was no provision to close up the mouth again by moving the frog forward. Not really a huge problem but one that is, nonetheless. important. Still, it would be relatively easy and cheap to fix up though.

The body is "prefabricated", which basically just means that it's been laminated using four separate pieces of wood - five pieces all up if you include the handle. All the wood parts are beech: the sides on this particular plane being perfectly quartersawn while the growth rings on the body blocks are, more or less, at a 45° angle to the sole. The handle, or tote, is also quatersawn. Interestingly the front block, being heavily rounded at the top from side to side and equally heavily chamfered at the back, has a slot or grooved "feature" where the sides meet it at the back. While this in no way detracts from the workability of the plane it's nonetheless worthy of note.

The bed angle is a standard 45° angle for most work and the handle is simply glued into a routed rebate. I should add that although the rebate for the handle had been machined it also showed signs of hand chiseling which I found interesting.

This plane is so nice to use that I'm about to make a couple of wooden planes based on this model in the not-too-distant future. Of course it goes without saying that I will be doing a tutorial or article on the making of them. In the meantime you can check out the plans by clicking on the image above or the link below.

To download a JPEG or PDF file for this hand plane (or both of them together in a ZIP file), please click one of the links below.

Download Marples Prefabricated Smoothing Plane (JPEG)Download Marples Prefabricated Smoothing Plane (PDF)Download Marples Prefabricated Smoothing Plane (ZIP)

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