Another reason to like my No. 3 Stanley hand plane

In a previous post, I mentioned the bed rails I was making for a couple to replace their broken ones. I created a slot for the bed rail hooks by laminating 1/8″ Baltic birch plywood between two layers of poplar hardwood. This worked great except that the slot was visible on the top edge of the rails.

I cut some thin splines from a scrap piece of poplar to fill the gap. I glued them in place then trimmed them with a small gent’s saw, like the one you see here.

Crown Brass Back Gent’s Saw
Manufactured by Crown Hand Tools, these saws keep a thinner blade stiff
by reinforcing it with a brass back.

Crown Brass Back Gent’s Saw

Crown Brass Back Gent

I left them a little proud so I could trim them flush with a hand plane. The one I seem to reach for most often is an old No. 3 Stanley outfitted with a Hock blade and chipbreaker. I like the size of my No. 3. It’s ideal for tasks like this. I first trimmed the top edge of the spline flush with the top of the bed rail. This left the end grain. Normally, I’d reach for my low angle block plane or my old Stanley 60½, but since I had the No. 3 in my hand, I thought I’d give it a try.

I think it worked better than the block planes would have. The biggest reason is the additional mass the No. 3 brings to the ballgame. It was effortless to take thin shavings off the end grain of poplar. (Another reason why I like using poplar…but I’ll save that for another post.) And the No. 3 isn’t really that hard to handle because of its smaller size compared to other smoothers. As a matter of fact, its footprint is about the same size as the low angle block plane. I think the tote places the hand in a position better suited for forcing the plane through end grain.

The bottom line is, I’ll take my No. 3 over most of my other planes.

Happy woodworking,

–Randy