Question: Why Are European Woodworking Planes Still Wood?


Have been looking at buying some planes. Was looking at old Stanley's as I figured they could do the job. I came across an interesting fact - almost all the planes in the US and UK are metal but the planes in mainland Europe (ie. Germany, Denmark, Italy, etc...) are wood. I read some European woodworkers commenting on this.
Does anyone know why mainlaind Europe still uses wood planes instead of metal? I was always under the impression that metal planes are superiour but that could be my own ignorance.
Anyone care to comment?
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snipped-for-privacy@t.com wrote:

When I was in my 20s I got all wrapped up in the James Krenov book, "The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking" and really enjoyed making my own planes following the instructions in the book. They feel really nice in the hand because they're so light and precise if you take the trouble to maintain them. They're more important if you view woodworking as an "art". I couldn't imagine carrying one around in my truck doing custom carpentry though, at least the kind that I made which were all wood except for the blade. I don't think I'd be too interested in the manufactured wood planes that have metal parts for adjustment.
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The wooden planes I own are made in Portland, by Steve Knight. They work really well. They are different from iron planes, and so, for someone like me, who hasn't settled on one type of work, having multiple types of planes seems to work well.
www.knighttoolworks.com
The Euro wood planes I've seen/tried seemed to be quality work as well. Mostly Ulima, IIRC.
Patriarch, many, too many, planes.
Nahhh.
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Patriarch wrote:

Me too - they're beautiful to look at and to use. Dense tropical hardwood body with lignum-vitae sole and 1/4" thick iron makes for quite a solid-feeling tool! I also have a few metal planes, both old (1930s Stanley #4 smoother with updated iron) and new (mmm.... LN Low Angle Block plane...). All are fine tools, and I use them all for various aspects of almost every project. I couldn't say that either one is superior in every way. Next plane will either be a high-angle smoother by Steve Knight, an iron-bodied edge-trimming block plane from Lee Valley, or a scrub plane, which I'm considering trying to make myself, but I'll probably try to order the iron from Steve Knight. I haven't use any of the other woodies of European origin, so I can't comment on how those compare.

Actually, there's a hyphen: www.knight-toolworks.com
Good luck, Andy
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I haven't been to Steves website for awhile. He has added HUNDREDS of pictures of his BEAUTIFUL wooden planes at
http://www.knight-toolworks.com/web_temp_pics/PhotoAlbum.asp
No affiliation. Just like purty things made of wood.
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[...]>

and as workman's tools too not fancy and expensive toys. Look for instance at this French catalogue:
http://www.leroymerlin.fr/mpng2-front/pre?zone=zonecatalogue&idLSPub 48502 972&renderall=on
The basic workaday wooden planes are slightly cheaper than the steel ones. Wooden planes are also considerably lighter in your toolbag than steel - important for a mobile tradesman.
France certainly used to have a very well established traditional apprenticeship system for industrial arts, it may still. It was quite common for training to start with the students making their own tools and many of them continued to use them, bow saws, wooden planes and the like.
I have a couple of specialist old wooden which I use a lot in my building restoration work. I really enjoy them and I don't think metal would be any superior, but I bought them because for instance a serious 14" two handed joiners rebate plane is just not obtainable new.
Tim W
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