A note to any Americans reading this page: I'm plugging some Great British designs here. As a consequence, you're going to be reading about "plough" planes, and "rebate" planes. If you want to spell those words some other way, that's up to you.
So without further ado, here are the designs that made Record great (or vice versa).
Oh darn. Someone has pointed out Record did a nifty range of unfenced metallic skew rebates. I'll get to these soon
It was essentially designed for grooving in drawer and box bottoms; it was only supplied with 3 blades (1/8", 3/16", 1/4") but metric blades (4mm, 6mm, 9mm, 12mm) for "European" plywood were available as extras. You can put almost a blade from virtually any other combination type plane in this little toy - there is no depth of cut adjustment, and the blade clamp is a lever cap, so there are no notches, slots or divots on the blade. The blades do taper a little, front to back, to give clearance in the groove being cut. Most plough plane blades have this feature, if you examine them closely. More on the blade clamp a little later.
The tool can cut grooves up to 4" from the edge, and up to 1/2" deep. You probably wouldn't want to use it anywhere near these limits. The fence isn't really big enough. In fact, for the uses I find it best for, I've considered sawing 2" off the fence rods - they're too long.
Update:18th Jan, 2002. On a tip from Brian Buckner (thanks, Brian), I went to my local hardware shop and bought some 7mm (as measured from the original) silver steel at the outrageous cost of £1.36 for 333mm length. My hardware store isn't an engineering outlet; it's a member of the Toolbank network, which is quite common in the UK, and very useful.This plane is almost usable single-handed, although the fence has a very nice arched section, so your left hand can keep it pressed nicely onto the work piece. Everyone should have one of these little jewels.
Since the commonest use for a #043 is grooving in bottoms (or tops), the maximum capacity required is the thickness of your top/bottom stock; say 3/4". Allowing for my 1/2" auxillary wooden fence (very nice), I cut 2.6" rods from the steel. The result is every bit as nice as I'd hoped (see earlier paragraph) and I haven't taken a hacksaw to vintage iron.
The #044 is slightly smaller than a #050, and a good deal lighter. Many people use it as their ploughing tool of choice, using heavier, more versatile planes (#50, #405 (Stanley #45-a-like) or #55) only when they must.
Oh damn, the blade clamp's missing!
Most combination planes tend to lose parts that aren't permanently attached, or in the box. With many planes this isn't a big deal, you just end up with a few less options. But on the #043 and #044 the blade clamp is separate. If the screw loosens a little, the blade clamp (and blade) can become completely detached from the plane. On its meandering course from the Record factory to the workshop of a true rust-hunter this temporary separation may become permanent, leaving the annoying situation of an otherwise good plane, unusable because of a small missing piece.
However, all is not lost. Having performed a few experiments, I can tell you that the blade clamps of the #043 and #044 are interchangeable. So if you buy both, you can get away with one of them missing a blade clamp - this may be to your financial advantage.
However, if you have some metalworking ability, and a few hours to spare you may find these drawings(PDF, 41Kb) useful.
The blade clamp is essentially a screw lever cap; the front foot is pressed firmly down by tightening the rear screw. The pivot is actually a large, square casting on the body of the plane.
(Picture from Bob Brode's site, with permission - thanks, Bob!)
A passing reference to the T5 in the context of other, even rarer and more expensive planes designed for shooting boards
Despite its self evident large size and weight, many people find this the best shoulder plane to use, even on smallish tenons. Don't ask me why, that's what they say.
(some people have pointed out that Preston, and subsequently Record have a wide range of unique shoulder planes; I may get round to the rest one day.)
and a design derived very closely from the Preston #22. The genius
is in the way a single draw-bolt holds the blade in position
in both positions (open and closed mouth).
The draw bolt passes diagonally through the casting,
and would foul both blade holes, but for the
bolt being nicely recessed to allow the blade passage.
The tension of the knurled nut
pulling on the draw-bolt tries to pull the bolt
past the recess (but can't, of course) thus
providing the required holding force.
The Stanley design
requires the thumbscrew to be laboriously removed and refixed
when switching blade positions, and also means the thumbscrew
is mating against threads in cast iron, whereas both
male and female threads in the #722 design are steel.
For more on mini routers, see Frank Sronce's mighty collection
still made by Record.
The advantage over all other manufacturers' #78 versions is the double rail.
When a #78 is used in "sash fillister" mode, i.e. the fence far away on the opposite side of the workpiece to the rebate being cut (as illustrated), the fence is able to spin on the single rod that holds it. Many #78 fence retaining screws bear the signs of users trying (in vain) to apply sufficient tension to stop this. Of course, all plough planes (that I know of) use twin fence rods to avoid this. But only Record (O.K. and "Woden") applied this idea to metal rebate planes.
Further information, added 12 nov 2002
It appears there may have been a linear inheritance of the "2 railed rebate plane design". Following a sighting of a 2 railed rebate #A78 by WS of Birmingham on Ebay, a conversation with some fellow fans led to the following facts being assembled:
Museum of Woodworking Tools
At one time the 2506s was a 2506 with added depth stop, but it appears
that later the depth step became included into the "plain" 2506.
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