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A Galoot’s Infill Smoother

It is several years since I last built a “Stanley infill”, my previous effort based on a #4. This time I decided to use the shell of a derelict #3 to create a small smoother – the final length is just 7 ½”. I also wanted to incorporate a few ideas. So what we have here is a bevel up configuration with a 25 degree bed.

The reason for the high bed is …

  1. to reduce the secondary bevel angle. The BU planes by Lie-Nielsen and Veritas all have a bed of 12 degrees. Concerns have been raised about the interference with the wear bevel. All planes – BU and BD – create a wear bevel bevel on the back of the blade as a result of the blade dragging over the wood. The issue is that the back of the blade for BU planes is the non-bevelled sided. For BD planes, when sharpening, the wear bevel is automatically removed. However for BU planes the wear bevel remains and must be removed specially. A higher bed would reduce the size and affect of a wear bevel.This is the theory. In practice I do not experience this problem.

  2. The second reason is to be in a position to freehand the bevel. With 12 degree beds, a high secondary bevel (in the region of 50 degrees for a smoother) is needed. This has to be created with a honing guide (for accuracy and reproducibility). A low 25 degree primary is still the basis of this set up.

Now with a 25 degree bed, it is possible to create a 35 degree hollow grind and freehand hone this directly. The 35 degrees is still low enough to camber.

At the time of writing, only Karl Holtey’s #98 had a highish bed - 22 ½ degrees.


Using a small 4” grinder and a Dremel, the base of the #3's frog was removed. This created a fairly flat foundation for the infill.

The blade is 1 ¾” wide and 5/32” (about 4mm) thick. It came out of a Danish Langeskov woodie. No cap iron is needed. Since a solid surface was needed, I filled the blade slot with a piece of brass. This was filed fractionally too large, then left in the freezer to shrink, before force-fitting it (a big hammer!). After it thawed the brass expanded and the whole piece became one solid affair.

The lever cap was carved (!) from a block of phosphor bronze (as I was informed) since I had nothing else to hand that was the desired thickness. This stuff is incredibly hard (I believe that it is used for bearings). It has a warm pink tone. I have used a combination of this and yellow brass throughout.

I lack metal machining tools, unless you include a drill press and an angle grinder. So the task of building a lever cap screw would be well beyond me – if I did not cheat a little. What I do is raid the local Borg’s gardening section for solid brass hose fittings and weld these together. The cap cover was a copper (Australian) 2c piece, so as to match the colour of the lever cap.

A tutorial on making levercaps and levercap screws without specialized equipment may be found here.

The infill is just scrap Jarrah, well seasoned but I did not have the desired thickness and had to laminate two pieces. This was shaped, and then epoxied into place. For additional strength and “a look”, brass screws were added, and then filed flush.

The order of construction is to build the infill bed first, then fit this - along with a finished blade (so one is using known dimensions) - until the edge of the blade lies just below the surface of the sole. Like so ..

One of the opportunities you have at this point is to make sure that the bed's lateral angle is square to the sole (i.e. the blade is level with the sole). Hence another reason to use a finished blade.

Once the plane is complete (sides pinned, sole flattened, etc), then carefully file the mouth until the blade begins to clear the end. This allowed me to make this mouth extremely small, and I have been rewarded with a plane that will take very fine shavings.

I must admit to having ambivalent feelings about the final shape. I much prefer round to straight sides, and the result here seemed to evolve as if it had a life of its own.

How well does it work?

Extremely well ….

I hope this effort might inspire a few more Stanley infills!

Regards from Perth


December 2006