Chris Schwarz's Blog

The Record 043: The ‘Gateway Drug’ for Plow Planes

When I’m trying to explain why I like hand tools to a hostile crowd – usually at a woodworking show – I like to pull out a Record 043 plow plane to demonstrate.

First, it’s cuter than socks on a squirrel. Second, it’s a drawer-grooving little monster. In just a  minute or two, I can cut all the grooves for a drawer-bottom using the 043. And I can talk as I demonstrate. No routers or dado stacks.

And the shavings are fun, too. Like enormous spirochaete bacteria (perhaps that’s not the best simile).

In any case, the 043 is a great introductory plow plane for budding hand-tool users. It’s robust, simple to set up and performs a useful operation in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

The reason I am writing about the 043 today is that tool-pusher Patrick Leach has come upon a small cache of these English tools and will be offering them up for sale (at a reasonable price) in his newsletter that comes out on Monday.

What, you are not a subscriber to Leach’s newsletter? Fix that here. Right now!

— Christopher Schwarz

22 thoughts on “The Record 043: The ‘Gateway Drug’ for Plow Planes

  1. Kurt Schmitz

    @Phil S – Really? Jumped the shark? “…when something that was once great reaches a point of decline in quality and popularity” applies to this entry on the Record 043? You did research and found that a user sells for a lower price than a dealer. Congrats! Good luck on eBay, my friend. I’ve bought from Patrick Leach and off of eBay, and eBay sellers are no Patrick Leach…

      1. Kurt Schmitz

        I read your post and knew about the tool sale. Not buying the conspiracy theory. Oprah Effect notwithstanding, I have to believe the vast majority of the readers of this blog are not lemmings – the numbers on eBay can be skewed by very few ‘enthusiasts’ and maybe even some speculators. For me, the #45 is a much-maligned tool but that’s what I use for ploughs, dados, beading, etc. and that’s just the tip of an iceberg’s worth of tool recommendations and warnings I’ve not dutifully adhered to. My last post on the subject, I know what you’re getting at, just turned off by the accusation.

  2. griz

    Patrick’s list is out and he has these on it. $115 might scare some away but it is still almost half of the Veritas and I know for sure Patrick will send a good copy or back it if you feel it is not. So yeah, I bit. I wonder what his price would have been if this little post didn’t happen??? :)

  3. Gary Roberts

    The Schwarz Effect is in action again. Over on that auction site, there’s a whole mess of little metal plow planes popping up for sale. If I ever decide to return to grad school for yet another round of torture, the Schwarz Effect will be my thesis.

    I’m not complaining. But then I already have my #46 for when it’s needed. Even better for the likes of me, all those bidders are buying metal plow planes and leaving my wooden plow planes alone. For this, I most sincerely thank Chris.

    I also thank Chris for illuminating the role of the plow plane in hand tool woodworking. Unplug that screaming router and save your ears.

  4. Andrew

    We see new tool comparison tests all the time… what about a vintage plow showdown?

    @J. Pierce
    The metal plows seem pretty simple, but a modern one doesn’t seem to come very cheap. The Veritas Small Plow Plane is north of $200… If Stanley came in at 1/2 the price, would it be considered cheap? Not sure since a vintage one costs about that much, and wouldn’t have the “benefits” of being cost optimized.

  5. Bill

    Chris,

    Thanks for the heads-up. Wish this had come out prior to you recommending the 044 I bought from Patrick in January. However, I’m very pleased with my purchase. Drawer bottom grooves are as fast, but much quieter and easier to clean up than ever before. Thanks for all you do for woodworking, especially for us neophytes. (did I spell that right?)

    Bill

  6. Lowellmk

    spirochetes? Socks on a squirrel? Hmmmm….did someone say something about plans?

    Won’t be able to get the image of a be-socked squirrel out of my mind for the rest of the day. By the way, that squirrel..it wasn’t wearing tub socks…was it?

    :)

  7. joshwhipkey

    I just bought my first plow! I got a wooden one. I’ve been looking for years, and finally got what seems to be a pretty good one at a great price. I have a baby coming any day now, and I need to have a small ‘quiet’ shop somewhere in the house. What an amazing thing that, thanks to folks like you, we woodworkers do not have to rely on the router, and table saw, and can vastly improve our knowledge, and skill while working next to sleeping babies.

  8. griz

    Damn namit. First the hand grinder now the 43. I guess you might as well right another tenon saw article. That way you could raise the prices on all 3 items I am looking for :).

    Actually I get Patrick’s monthly email and hopefully can work something out….Griz

  9. karlroth

    this is unrelated as i couldn’t find another place to email my comment to. i really enjoy your blog and its one of the sites i chek every day on my web peregrinations. although i understand the need for integration of the popularwoodworking website and that the content on your blog hasn’t changed i feel that your previous format had a much nicer, personal feel to it. this new look feels way too corporatist! will still be cheking it out but my pleasure is diminished . . . just saying. thanks for the great blog
    k

  10. J. Pierce

    Looks like I might be using my Mujingfang plow a while longer…

    Honestly thoough, I’m surprised Stanley hasn’t made a simple plough plane as part of their reissue line; I know the 043 was unique to Record, but a simple plough like this would be hard to screw up, and seems like it could be made fairly cheaply.

  11. Gary Roberts

    Thanks for pushing the little Record plow plane. The more you praise the metallic plow planes, the more happy I am with my wood plow planes. Let the people seek out the Record and Stanley models while I revel in my woodies! (full disclosure, I’m a huge fan of the Stanley #46, but that’s as far as that goes).

  12. K Anderson

    Ah for once ahead of the curve, me with a 43 and the Rapier #3 as seen at the top of the picture. Nice little planes, let the bidding begin.

  13. Andrew

    Like tja, sounds like I dodged a bullet. I picked an unused Stanley No. 50 off eBay the other week. Quite the stash that’ll be showing up in next week’s e-mail flyer from Patrick though.

  14. tja

    Whew, am I happy I got one when the going was still good. With this papal nod of approval prices are bound to skyrocket. Time to gather data on ebay to see the Schwarz effect in action. When a certain butterfly flaps its wings in Cincinatti …

    Haywards “Woodwork Joints” has only just recently descended from the price stratosphere it was launched into upon being highly spoken of in 2007. May I quote: “This book, my 1954 edition published by Evans Brothers Ltd., will be one of the things I scoop up (in addition to my daughters) if our house ever catches fire.”

    Take Alberts

  15. robert

    No – that’s a great simile. Woodworkers are all mad anyhow, though usually not due to T. pallidum. As an aside, it is rumored that those spirochaete bacteria are readily treatable with quicksilver, but that both prevents and causes madness.

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