Salvaging a $15 Infill Smoother, Part 1

The good/bad point of the past several weeks is that since my recuperation was underway but not complete, I could spend time in the shop but my arm/hand was not yet flexible and strong enough to undertake real work at the bench.  I did have enough capacity to putter in the barn, so I did.

This past summer I returned to the nirvana of ancient tools, namely Martin Donnelly’s annual warehouse emptying auction, wherein over three thousand lots, with perhaps more than fifty thousand tools, are auctioned in two-and-a-half days.  In addition to the wondrous fellowship of friends old and new I managed once again to score some treasures.  Shabby and bedraggled to be sure, but treasures nonetheless.  Well, maybe “treasures in waiting.”

One that totally caught my eye was this infill smoother of unknown lineage, bearing a single stamp of “J.Quick” although I have no idea if this was the maker or the owner.  The tool , in the words of my pal MikeM, “looked like a stretch of bad pavement.”  There was no denying it was a “project,” but being in a box lot of tools I got for about $75, its $15 price tag made it worth a bit of risk, imagination, and time.

Notwithstanding my friendships with infill plane makers of the highest repute like Konrad Sauer, Raney Nelson, and Ron Brese (although almost certainly due to the fair prices for their creations their planes are generally well beyond my means) my inventory of infill planes has been pretty scarce.  One, to be exact. I addressed this lacuna at Donnelly’s, both in the auction and out in the yard of tailgating.

This sad little smoother was sorta intact, but not really.  Neither the iron nor the wedge were original, or even fit the body.  Getting a good iron was no more complicated than going to the drawer in the cabinet with the spare tool parts.  I found a very nice old tapered laminated blade that was about 1/128″ too wide, a situation resolved in about a minute on the diamond stone.

The wedge took a little longer, refurbishing the body even longer still, but in the end the results were pretty nice.

Stay tuned.