Because I am a low-grade narcissist (of course I’m a narcissist, I write a woodworking blog) I like to think that every idea I have was formulated without any outside influence. Like most narcissists, I like to believe that I am too clever to be influenced by anything but my own dazzling intellect. So when a few months back Graham Legend, I mean Haydon, posted on Popular Woodworking’s web page an article and video regarding the restoration of a coffin-style smooth plane, I grudgingly admit that I was fascinated. (If I can find the original article I will post a link to it). After watching that video and drooling like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I spent a good deal of time over the course of this year searching tool sales, EBay, and tool dealers to find a coffin-style smoother that was reasonably priced, yet in decent enough condition to restore. It took me from then until last week, but I finally found one on Patrick Leach’s web page, Supertool.com, that hadn’t already been sold, so I immediately jumped on the chance and purchased it.
The truth is I do not need a smoothing plane; I have a Stanley #4 that works perfectly. There really are only two explanations for why I purchased this tool. Firstly, I love the look of the coffin style plane, secondly, Graham Haydon is likely a Svengali. Maybe it’s his English accent, maybe it’s his writing, which somehow reads with an English accent, but everything he says or writes eerily resonates with me in a way that I can’t explain. Is it a man crush? Maybe. Want to hear something really scary? I did one of those silly quizzes on Facebook to determine who my most attractive friend was. Guess who the answer was? It wasn’t my lovely wife; it wasn’t the neighborhood hotty from 1988, If you guessed “Graham Haydon” you would be correct. In fact, I did the quiz twice just to be sure, and both times the answer was “Graham Haydon”. As a woodworker, Graham has such a strong strangle hold on me that I am certain that he is the only person who could convince me to sell my table saw and go full hand-tool commando.
As far as the tool, it arrived yesterday and like every tool I’ve ever purchased from Patrick Leach, it arrived completely as advertised. The body and wedge are in great condition. The iron assembly looks very good; there are a few minor nicks but nothing that shouldn’t be easily handled. The sole needs to be flattened. There is a high spot just behind the mouth, which I’ve found is the case with most wood-bodied planes. I truly look forward to restoring it, and while I’m going to try to keep the original “character” of the plane as much as possible, I have no problem in sanding or planing away patina if need be. I purchased the tool to use and in a lesser sense, learn from as well as “collect”, but I have no concern or worry in keeping its value for resale.
I’ll try to post some photos of the process as it moves along as well as write about the progress of the restoration. Hopefully I will do a good job and the plane will become a valuable addition to my tool set. The worst case scenario is that it looks cool sitting on the shelf in my garage. It should be fun, and that’s all I’m asking. And before I forget, if anybody out there knows of a good witch doctor, or possibly an exorcist please let me know. I have a strange feeling that somebody out there is controlling my mind.