Planemakers Didn’t Understand

Hayward’s writing is suffused with a poignant awareness that the 20th century was a time of inexorable decline in the use and manufacture of hand tools. All sorts of skills and techniques that were taken for granted in previous centuries disappeared, and the use of the double iron wasn’t immune from this trend. By the end of the 20th century it was common, as I noted earlier, to hear the claim that cap irons didn’t really stop tear-out. Some writers speculated that the real purpose of the cap iron was to stabilize or add heft to the cutting iron. One prominent author wrote that cap irons “do more harm than good in a handplane” – a statement that would have shocked any late 18th-century woodworker. But it wasn’t just teachers and writers: Planemakers clearly didn’t understand the double iron either. 

–Steve Voigt, excerpt from “Cutting-Edge Technology: Rediscovering the Double-iron Plane,” in Issue Six


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