There is something to be said about wooden planes; they sing when on the stock, when placed on the bench they seem to catch the light just so as to seem to glow, and every single one of them, old and new, has personality. Sometimes their tongue is muted, gagged in a foul mouth waiting to be coaxed out by sole tuning, bed squaring, mouth tightening, and chip breaker fiddling. These reticent characters are frustrating at times, vexing with these fouling troubles, driving one to hours of research and testing of theories. It is with these that one finds enlightenment.
Then there are those that simply can’t wait to speak; they virtually sing themselves to tune. Carrying the stories of their past caretakers on their bodies for all the world to see. The smacked and beaten heels, The fading on the sidewalls were those departed grasped and toiled until all was straight and true.
Then there are those that talk at first, babbling with joy, making the shaving fly out of the mouth and into ones face, but then are silent. Their bodies fail them, their totes crack. After each repair they somehow lose some of their voice; like a flower fading in the hot summer sun. These are the voices that haunt, their faded song echoing in the mind in the quiet hours of the shop. This song is the song of what once was; of the shavings sailing out of the mouth, the beautiful ssskkk that vibrates through the body and into ones hands, and thereby into the soul. It’s this song that keeps one striving to get that song back like a desperate lover driven to get back his love no matter the cost.
These voices, songs and tales of the plane are the reason why they continue on through history. To some the voice is heard out of reticence, this newest caretaker is hesitant, dainty, afraid to mess things up. This approach is well-meaning, and quite understandable; the wooden soul is old, and more often than not cracked in some ways or another and the new user is afraid it might break. To those who are reticent: Go! Make that old soul sing! Let it belt out its beautiful aria, and you the caretaker be enveloped in it’s song!
Then there are those caretakers, who at first sight, fell; falling hard into the voice of history, toil, sweat, heart ache, frustration, and pure elation of finding this beautiful soul. They take this wooden soul let it’s song ring to the rafters of the shop. With every use finding a new story it wants to tell, till at last it becomes an old friend, a fellow wooded sole mate in this wonderful, beautiful, woodworking journey.