New Wooden Smoother, Kind of...

Bill Satko

Methow Valley
Some time ago I was gifted with an old wooden smoother that had seen better days. I had helped some friends install a new hot water tank and they gave me their father's hand plane that had been sitting around unused for some time. He wasn't really a woodworker so I believe that he only picked it up as shop art much like you see shops decorated with large timber saws. So who knows how long it went without being used.

The blade was very tightly wedged in the plane and was a bear to remove, but I prevailed. The blade was not badly rusted, but I popped it into some rust remover and then flattened the back of the blade and put a new bevel on it. I also freshened up the chip breaker edge and ensured it sat flat against the blade with no gaps.

The body was very dirty but cleaned up with some scrubbing. I flattened the sole. The mouth opening is large for a smoother and I am thinking of patching the mouth to narrow the gap. Although the iron beds "okay", there is some funkiness' to it so I will ink the iron and wedge with dry erase marker, bedding them in the plane and then remove any high spots that show up with my plane floats. That being said, the plane cuts well.

The plane is an Ogontz number 3 smoother. Ogontz according to sources on the web was a “house brand of Sandusky Tool Co". It is a bit larger than my Voigt Coffin Smoother. It has a 2" wide blade and is 7-3/4" long. Both dimensions are 1/4" larger than the Voigt.






Also, that is not a crack that shows on the sole. It is only some discoloration of the wood.
I think it is great that we honor tools that have lasted, or will last, longer than we have, or will (y)
Unfortunately some tools are lasting because they are never used. I subscribe to Patrick Leach's monthly tool list and have notice that within the last year or two, many Lie Neilson tools are now showing up on his list which have never been used and still are in their boxes. Seems there were many people who bought these tools for some reason other than using them to build something. Collectors? I am sure a lot of wooden planes are bought for the same reason. I bought all my tools with the intent to use them. Not to say there are not a few I bought I shouldn't have as I hardly use them. Just a mistake in what I thought I "needed" and would use.

And there may be many that bought Neander hand tools with the belief they would use them but because it takes a real time commitment when compared to using their powered cousins never fully committed to them. Not only are hand tool methods generally slower, the tools demand constant care. They are constantly wanting to be sharpened. Woodies are even bigger babies as they often need their soles re-flattened due to seasonal changes. Despite all these limitations, I do enjoy them and have learned to go with the slower pace they often dictate. Kind of like taking a walk instead of driving somewhere. It is not so much about how fast you get to your destination but enjoying the journey.
Do you reckon the mouth is mostly a bit wide because the sole was planed back some to flatten it? Would it be better to put on a new sub sole or patch the mouth to narrow it in this case?