- I am continually amazed by the capabilities of this low angle bevel up smoother. With a 50 degree blade, for a cutting angle of 62 degrees, I was able to get shavings as thin as .001". In short order, the tearout was gone. With intermediate sharpening skills, anyone can do this quite readily. Yes, I know, I've watched Graham Blackburn do the same thing with a well-tuned Sears plane from the fifties. Consider this though. Less than a minute later, I can be shooting the end grain with a 25 degree blade and 37 degree cutting angle. A toothed blade is also available. The rest of my bench planes are Baileys and are perfectly fine. This smoother is not essential, but is nice to have. I have no desire to own any other premium bench planes, however.
- My year of living without a vise on my bench, other than the Moxon portable one, is going very well. In this picture, you see a vertical planing stop, a horizontal planing stop, and a side planing stop. It is so quick, convenient and effective to work this way. I don't know whether I will end up with a bench vise or not but I understand now why the standard Nicholson front vise is more than adequate.
- I have had substantial reservations about making my bench only 34" high. When I stand normally, it is midway between the pinky test and flat palm heights, but it feels too low, especially for planing. Today, I noticed myself adopting a wide stance with bent knees (not that one!) to be comfortable for planing and it occurred to me that maybe that's the answer. It lowers your upper body several inches. A wide stance is stable and powerful, and it also allows you to plane a greater distance without taking a step. You put your whole body into it. Because I have sufficient upper body strength, I have never felt the need for using my legs and it will take some getting used to. It's either that or raise the bench. I think the current height would be fine if I used wooden planes though.
- Compare the totes on the modern smoother and vintage Bailey #4 in the picture below. The angles are quite different. The Bailey is more comfortable to use on a lower bench.