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Thread: Planes - Smooth vs Corrugated

  1. #1
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    Planes - Smooth vs Corrugated

    Noob question. Smooth vs Corrugated. Do I care? I don't really understand the difference. I'm guessing the corrugated channel debris? I've collected a number of "User" planes from #3-#6. I'm now looking at #7 and #8's and they are quite a step up in price. What should go into my decision on smooth or corrugated?

    Thanks,

    dj

  2. #2
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    I think the sales pitch back in the day was that the corrugated planes have less surface area in contact with the work, which equals less friction, which means you can work longer without tiring.

    There is presumably a theoretical level of sense to the pitch. If you take a smooth bottomed plane and wax it, you will notice it slides much easier than an unwaxed one. In practice, I don’t think it is worth worrying about. If you are looking for a decent plane to use, and find one you like, don’t worry about whether it is smooth or corrugated.

  3. #3
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    What should go into my decision on smooth or corrugated?
    Whether or not it is in your budget. Whether or not the plane is in a condition that can be used without a lot of work. (unless you enjoy plane fettling, if that is the case, check out this old post > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?114373 <.

    In my experience there isn't a whole lot of difference. My corrugated sole planes tend to get sold, my smooth bottom planes tend to stay around.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Whether or not it is in your budget. Whether or not the plane is in a condition that can be used without a lot of work. (unless you enjoy plane fettling, if that is the case, check out this old post > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?114373 <.

    In my experience there isn't a whole lot of difference. My corrugated sole planes tend to get sold, my smooth bottom planes tend to stay around.

    jtk
    I'm with Jim, with or without a little wax or oil on the bottom it makes no never mind smooth or otherwise. I may have one plane with a corrugated sole stuck in a corner someplace. My first question would be do I need a #7 or do I just want a #7.

    ken

  5. #5
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    My first question would be do I need a #7 or do I just want a #7.
    Though in reality filling a want or a need can go a long way in brightening one's day in the shop.

    As to need, the question is how large is the stock you normally work?

    If you do work stock longer than a couple of feet, then a #7 or #8 might be a useful plane in your fleet.

    If like me you 'just have to have the whole set' then having the choice of which long plane to use today brings a smile to my face when entering the shop.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
    The only advantage I believe corrugated planes have is that if they are not flat it is easier to flatten then because there is less metal to remove.

    Even that I think is mostly theoretical.

  7. #7
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    I have both versions...and haven't found a difference between them...
    #3c vs #3
    #4c vs #4

    A #6c....sorry, don't have a straight 6....I do have a #5-1/2 smooth sole...
    #7c Vs #0-7


    Whichever is closest to hand...

  8. #8
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    Oh man. I thought corrugated planes were rarer than smoothies. No wonder I got my 8C cheap. 25 bucks...... I guess for a jointer, it will only be used on the flats, so the corrugated would less of a drag..... Pun.

    Measure twice, cut twice.

  9. #9
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    I have a 5C and it is generally my go to for most dimensioning work. It performs really well. If you find a good deal on a “c”, I wouldn’t hesitate.

  10. #10
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    I've got a smooth #4 and a corrugated #4, a couple of type no's different from each other, both pre 1940's. The only difference I see/feel is due to the blades (my sharpening?) and how open I've made the mouths. However, I've for a long time wondered if there was a more noticeable difference if your working with wet wood. On wet wood, it seems to me there might be an advantage to the corrugated sole. Anyone have experience on this point.

  11. #11
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    The wood can't tell the difference. That said, I've never cared for the corrugated bottoms. I'm just that petty
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  12. #12
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    I can pass on what my grandfather shared with me about his experience with corrugated planes. He and my great-grandfather were carpenters and interior finishers for most of the 20th century. They each owned a Stanley #6 corrugated (which are both nearly worn out) for roughing work and Stanley #4s that are smooth bottomed for finish trim work. When I asked my grandfather why the need for a corrugated plane, he told me a corrugated plane worked better with pine framing lumber when it had sap/pitch on it. I can’t elaborate further why that might be, but that’s what I was told. BTW, I still use one of the 6s and one of the 4s (both Type 11s) in my shop.

  13. #13
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    A simple thought: the smooth bottoms are much easier to clean than the Cs...
    Jerry

  14. I will confess that from the time I was a little kid, I thought the corrugated bottoms looked cooler but now that I am a user I don't think it makes much difference. As was mentioned earlier, if you need to try to flatten one, you'll need to remove less metal on a corrugated one. That's good if you know what you are doing, though it also probably means you could goof things up even faster if you are not as careful as you should be. Entrance into the flat sole society is not necessarily a no brainer sure thing.

    Condition and price would both be way higher on my list of concerns when shopping. Buy what you need/want, sharpen it well and put it to work.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Olexa View Post
    A simple thought: the smooth bottoms are much easier to clean than the Cs...
    I once worked with a fine cabinetmaker who hand planed large banquet extension tables perfectly. He said he didn't like
    the corg type because it was not as easy to see something stuck on the plane. But I think that purely theoretical since
    he would always set a plane down on its side.

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