I wasn’t really looking to get a block plane right off the bat. First, for whatever reason, the good ones always seem to end up costing near $35-$40 when they’re in decent shape. Second, it wasn’t a pressing need; they are good at trimming end grain, and that’s not something I wanted to fool around with just yet.
As has happened with my other planes, a somewhat questionable example showed up for a reasonable sum (that is, like $5), and thus, I am now the owner of this little Millers Falls #16:
At first glance, this thing looks positively awful. God only knows what inhabited this plane before it was shipped to me. That pin holding in the iron’s cam locking lever doesn’t exactly look like the original part. The chrome on various parts looks like it’s flaked off. And there’s not a lot of japanning left.
However, the rust is really only a little surface rust, the brass knob and depth adjuster are intact, and most importantly, the mouth adjuster is intact. The adjustable mouth feature is really what separates the men from the boys in the block plane business, and this, being a knockoff of the Stanley 9 1/2, has that feature. Don’t ask me why they made so many stupid block planes without it, or why these manufacturers (Stanley in particular) decided to make so many stupid block planes in the first place, or why a low-angle block plane costs so goddamn much these days. I do not know the answers to these questions.
What I do know is that this plane is going to need a little work to clean up, and that it’s not among my priorities right now, especially because I have amassed way too many planes since I started on this little mission of mine. Seriously. When the dust clears from this initial spending spree, I’ll have two smoothing planes, three jack planes, a fore plane, and a block plane. It has also dawned on me that I’m probably gonna need to start to learn a few simple things about metalworking at some point. In particular, a lot of this stuff seems to have riveted parts. I don’t know much about that.