Bingo. Some of the Asian planes do have chip breakers. The
chipbreaker was a European influence from the late 1800's and is an
Today I went to the Korean deli where I get my prosciutto, pepperoni,
provolone and hot peppers sandwich (highly recommended) and they were
in the midst of a large renovation. They were installing some site
built laminate cabinetry and I asked the guy trimming the edges if I
could take a look at the hand plane he was using. It was longer than
this one http://www.handplane.com/archives/102 and without the
crossbar. From the sound of it you could tell that it was sharp and
working well - kind of surprising as he was working plastic laminate.
Felt good in the hand, nice heft, and it had a brass wear plate at the
mouth. I think tomorrow I'll ask him if he can get me a couple of
different planes for a good price so I can play around with them.
All planes work better with smaller mouth save, perhaps a scrub. There are
limits, of course, to clearances. One limit is addressed by the
chipbreaker, which allows better rigidity in a thin blade setup, and when
properly set, gets the shaving on the path to out of the plane and out of
the way, sort of like the contour of a bevel-up plane.
Yes to both final questions. A tight mouth and a sharp blade are
essential for fine shavings and tear-out-free surfaces. The
"chipbreaker", IMO, is more of a blade stabilizer especially in
bevel-down planes where the cutting edge is hanging out in space,
unsupported, for the length of the bevel. The "chipbreaker" (I think
I'll start calling it the "cap iron") adds considerable rigidity to the
cutting edge when set closely.
The "tight mouth" part presumes that the leading edge of the mouth is
sharp as well. The erosive effect of the shaving sliding over that arris
will, in time, round it over. That edge holds down the shaving helping
reduce tear out and when it's worn, it can't do that job as well. One of
the tune-up steps on older planes is to file the leading edge of the
mouth to true it up (if necessary.)
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