Advantages of infill planes?

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I've been doing a lot of learning about hand planes recently, and was interested to see the differences between metal bodied and wooden planes.
Then I read about infill planes. They look really nice, but can anyone tell me if there is a functional advantage of having the wooden infil vs. a regular metal bodied plane?
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wilbur wrote:

Bling. And weight.
er
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: I've been doing a lot of learning about hand planes recently, and was : interested to see the differences between metal bodied and wooden : planes.
: Then I read about infill planes. They look really nice, but can anyone : tell me if there is a functional advantage of having the wooden infil : vs. a regular metal bodied plane?
They have (or should have) very tight mouths, and the blade is supported all the way down to the mouth. The former you can get with a metal plane by moving the frog forward, but this results in less support for the blade.
    -- Andy Barss
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Infills have heft,tight mouths,easy to adjust,and a pleasure to use,stanley came out with the 4 1/2 to compete with the infills more heft,all in all the 4 1/2 is a very popular plane but really not comparable with an infill.if your really into planes you must have a smoothing infill.

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wilbur wrote:

It's how it's made that's the major advantage. Infills start out as flat plates and are machined prior to assembly, as opposed to starting out as a casting. Castings shrink as they cool and it can be a fair amount of work to get the sole dead flat. Infills start out that way. The weight is another advantage. There's also more hand work involved in making an infill, so each one is closer to a custom creation.
R
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Newly manufactured infills are probably machined from the solid as the low volume would make it more economical. Old ones, when they were in production, were cast same as any metal body plane. If you start out with a piece of metal thick enough to make an infill and machine it to shape, it WILL warp. It can, of course be stress relieved and machined strait. Cast iron will warp, unless stress relieved and machined strait. Cast iron, when treated correctly, is extremely stable. The bedways of precision machine tools are now, and always have been, made of cast iron.

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AS far as I know, both old and new infills are made from steel plate, with sides (usually of thinner plate) dovetailed to the base.
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May be true. I can't really say that I have sen a lot of the old ones but the couple I have were cast.
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have", do you mean the couple you own or the couple you have seen? If the former, can you post some details and a pic or two? What metal was the casting?
I think the better known makers, such as Norris, Spiers, and Mathieson, made their planes primarily from steel, with the bodies dovetailed together.
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I've got cast iron, ductile iron, cast bronze, steel plate and a mixture of steel and brass plate. If you buy a new kit for one, most are cast bronze. Most of the low-volume bijou makers today are dovetailing. For thumb planes, chariots and the like, then cast bronze has always been the common method.
For narrow shoulder planes, corian makes a nice infill (but a poor wedge, as it's inelastic)
If you make your own by dovetailing, go for the steel and brass route. It's easier to dovetail, easier to file the dovetail gap flush, and you can still see the join afterwards. It must be really galing to go to the trouble of dovetailing steel into steel, working hard to get an invisble join, then having something where only a plane duffer can appreciate the quality!
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might be looking elsewhere for one at some point.

plane from Shepherd), and like having the dovetails disappear unless you get them in just the right light. <g>
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Bristol Designs used to do them and I think Charles still has some castings, but I know that he can't source adjusters (Norris style) to offer any them more.
You can always make your own. It's not hard to get bronze castings made from a pattern, and it's not even a hard pattern to make. I'm tempted to cast my own (I've been doing a lot of bronze and silver casting lately), but I've no real need or time for one. I've got castings for an iron smoother (A5 style) and 1" shoulder plane that have been sitting here for the last 2 years already!

Corian is about 1.6 specific gravity, AFAIR. Comparable to dense-ish wood. Neither really matters anyway, a cast sole easily outweighs them.
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Or if you don't want to use a casting, here's a great photo documentation of Gary Kramer's building of a box mitre plane: http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery/view?p 9&gidi15920&uid93670
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I quite fancy a mitre plane like that and I would like to make a dovetailed one (brass sides).
I'm also just off the phone from someone trying to sell me a Bridgeport vertical mill for 600.....
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RicodJour wrote:

OTOH, that work should be done at the factory making it a non-issue for the buyer/user, unless--see below.

If the plate stock used to make the infill was properly annealed then it will probably be more stable than a cast sole, even if the casting was also annealed. Grey cast iron is also brittle, a cast plane can break in half if dropped, the worse that would likely happen to an infill would be a broken tote and chipped cutter.
Lee Valley makes their iron planes from ductile cast iron---it is not brittle like the old grey-cast iron. One of the woowdorking shows on PBS visitied the factory and showed the sole for a #7 being made. They flattened the sole by running it through a machine resembling a panel sander (linishing?) befor even taking it out of the mold. Very cool.
Note that a #78 broken at the mouth makes a dandy bull-nosed chisel plane.
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snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

Should be the operative word. I shouldn't know what lapping was if the work was done at the factory.

I hadn't thought about repairability, but that's a good point.

Compare the cost of even a high quality wood or cast plane to that of an infill. The infill is roughly twice the price at least. Ten or twenty bucks would cover the difference in materials, so the rest is the labor involved, which is substantially greater. As in most things, you get what you pay for.
R
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Not true.
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CW wrote:

Which part is untrue, the part about the plate being stable or the part about the casting being unsable?
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Cast iron is very stable and better wearing than steel.

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Not a metallurgist here, but I thought CI was softer than most steels, and more subject to wear by abrasion?
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