I bought a Norton 220x waterstone today to add to the lower end of my arsenal. I was really eager to see how quickly it would flatten the back of a blade, so I tried it on the big Hock blade for my #7. It’s pretty impressive–that would have taken a million years on almost anything else. I would imagine that the only way to do it faster would be to scrape it with a file, but I’m not sure that I am comfortable doing that.
It’s fairly clear that I should get an 8000x stone. The 4000x/honing compound combination works adequately, but it takes longer with the compound than I would like. It seems to me that going 4000x-8000x-compound would work very quickly with better results, because you can get the whole blade on the stone at once.
Over the past few weeks, I’d been fiddling with my two Millers Falls #9 smoothing planes, trying to work out the kinks in them. I accomplished that goal (I think), but I’m now starting to think that the fancy-schmancy frog adjusting screw that Stanley introduced in 1902 is the devil. On my type 4 plane, the boss wasn’t tapped hard enough or something, so the frog wouldn’t move forward as much as it should have. I fixed that by using my socket wrench, a big screwdriver bit, and some lubricant to drive the screw farther in.
On the other plane, a type 3 (wartime) model, I couldn’t figure out why the stupid frog wouldn’t seat straight on its mating surface. It turns out that the stupid frog adjusting screw boss was tapped off-center. I fixed this by shoving the little pressed plate with the notch that fits into the adjusting screw off to the side as well.
Neither of these planes would have had any problems if they didn’t have frog adjusting screws, and that feature just doesn’t seem like it’s really that great anyway. I even thought about removing the plate.
On the brighter side, I don’t think that any of my other planes have these problems. In addition, my #7 definitely doesn’t have this problem because it doesn’t have the screw. Neither does my Millers Falls #900. My guess is that the MF #900 can be made to perform as well as any of the other smoothers because it’s basically like a #9 without the frog adjustment screw and a simple lever cap instead of the three-pointer. Not that I feel the need to prove this point at the moment…