|Shobha Low Angle Jack Plane|
Most Indian woodworkers would not be familiar with a low angle hand plane since no one made these planes in India - till now.
Shobha Industries, our favourite hand tools maker, has recently come up with a low angle plane that should interest hand plane aficionados in this country.
The Shobha plane is basically a modern copy of the famous Stanley #62 low angle plane. Like its illustrious predecessor, this plane is 14 inches long and about 2 inches wide.
It comes with a short stout blade which is much thicker than normal plane blades and an adjustable mouth which can be opened or closed by loosening the front knob and rotating a ring.
This plane was originally designed as a Jack plane for heavy work but somehow seems to have found favour as a smoother as well.
Several top notch Western tool makers like Veritas and Lie-Nielsen make similar copies of the #62, which according to some woodworkers work like magic.
|Vintage Stanley #62|
It comes with the standard Indian Rosewood (Sheesham) knobs and powder coated interior.
Apart from its adjustable mouth, it is a rather simple plane that does away with a traditional frog and cap iron.
The blade sits on an angled block which is part of the overall casting and is held in place with a lever cap that is tightened by a knurled screw.
|Parts of Shobha #62|
There is no lateral adjustment lever as in the regular bevel down planes as the blade fits quite accurately on the bed. The blade can be moved forward and back by a regular brass adjustor.
My only grouse with the plane was the way its blade had been ground; it came with a concave bevel and a coarse secondary or micro bevel. This made blade preparation extremely troublesome.
Many woodworkers do not care to put a secondary or micro bevel on their blades for whatever reason and for them grinding away the one made in the factory would be extremely tiresome and time consuming.
Moreover, a secondary or micro bevel actually needs to be very fine. It requires a very light touch on a high grit honing stone to produce a micro bevel.
David Charlesworth, an authority on the use and tuning of hand planes, recommends just four or so strokes on a 16,000 grit stone for a micro bevel. This apparently is more than enough.
On the other hand, a micro bevel that has been ground isn't a micro bevel at all.
I had quite a time fixing the blade - though once honed the plane behaved admirably.
I don't know how Shobha are going to price this plane but clearly it won't be cheap.
At the same time, is a low angle plane a necessity for the average woodworker? I don't think so. The regular bevel down planes work well especially with difficult tropical woods such as Teak and Sheesham so popular in our country.
I suppose a hand plane is a personal choice; some people seem to think that low angle planes are the best, others differ.
I find working with the Shobha #62 very pleasant indeed but I am certainly not going to pack up any of my regular bench planes I have tweaked and tuned over the years.
29 January 2017
I have made a brief two-and-a-half minute video on using the Shobha #62, which might give you an idea of what the plane is capable of.