The Multiplane

A new Multiplane is quite an investment – when I started this series of projects five years ago I was still under the spell of this tool and Stanley still had a couple of cheaper alternatives which could be recommended for grooving and cutting dados.

Five years on (running evening classes and producing the home learning course), how do I feel about them? The only successor to the Stanley/Record models that I knew was the Clifton – I have three old Stanleys and had one new Clifton; it was the best – too precious for sharing – so has moved on.

I see there are some alternatives showing up on the internet now, but the Stanley ones have gone (and to put it mildly, they were not very sophisticated). You can still get second hand ones, but make sure they are in good condition and all the parts are there.

There are websites devoted to the Multiplane and some people hate them but, after relying on these most complex and most versatile of hand tools, I think I can add my pennyworth.

I have worked fairly intensively with lots of electric routers and a variety of spindle moulders over the years and the multiplane is certainly not a router or a spindle.

There are some big limitations of the plough type of plane (including the Multiplane) that come to mind; you can’t plunge them, fix them to a trammel for curved work, or do an end stopped groove or dado. Apart from that, working with them is slower and requires more patience and skill.

So why use them at all? Well, they are still very versatile and to the dedicated hand tool user there is no alternative.

Old wooden planes -moulding planes etc. had a better design. The continuous wooden sole in the shape of the cutter grips the wood better and cuts out chatter, but good ones are hard to get now.

The 55, which is the most sophisticated multiplane that Stanley made, has an extra piece to beef up the sole but even that doesn’t allow you to use difficult wood. I have tried it. So, with that in mind, if you are lucky enough to have a good Multiplane don’t expect too much of it! Select your stock from the straight grained pieces at your disposal. Pine will be easier to work with than hardwoods. Always use the “spur” cutters when cutting across the grain and even when you are cutting along the grain when you are working with cross-grained woods like elm.

So what do Clifton say about it? The 450 Multiplane is for those who enjoy the sheer craftsmanship of working with hand tools.

The body is machined from quality grey iron castings, nickel chrome plated. The handle, knob and fence are made from rosewood. The plane is supplied with a set of 24 cutters made of Sheffield tool steel, accurately ground, hardened and tempered, to 61-62 Rockwell “C” hardness, cutting edge ground to 35 degrees, and these are packed in a plastic wallet. The Multiplane comes complete with all accessories packed in a traditional wooden box, together with full instruction leaflet.

An additional set of 16 cutters is also available (these include sash cutters, fluting cutters and reeding cutters).

Post time: 06-02-2017