§ by Randy Maxey on September 30th, 2006
If you visit many of the woodworking newsgroups or forums (like WoodNet), you’ve probably heard of Steve Knight. He makes wood-body hand planes (“woodies”). Most everyone that owns one of Steve’s planes has found them to be exceptional in their performance. If you go to his web site (Knight Toolworks), you’ll see an assortment of types and styles of planes.
Now personally, I don’t really like the looks of Steve’s planes. To me, they always looked too “boxy” or clunky. But, I’m always on the lookout for a good smoothing plane, so I ordered one of his coffin smoothers. Compared to other new hand planes, the price is pretty competitive. And, after all, looks aren’t everything, are they?
As is Steve’s trademark, the plane arrived with a test shaving and a wood block over the mouth to protect the edge on the 1/4″-thick iron. Call me obsessive-compulsive, but I removed the iron and honed it just a little. The bevel is wide enough that you can hone it by hand without a honing guide. And Steve already did a good job of flattening the back of the iron, so I didn’t need to worry about that.
If you’ve never used a traditional wood-body plane, it takes some time to get the hang of setting the blade depth and tightening the wedge. Some strategically-placed taps with a soft-faced mallet will get everything right. And this plane has an adjustable mouth that helps eliminate tearout. Once I got the blade seated properly, I was able to take full-width, whisper-thin shavings off of mahogany. One of the guys in the shop saw what I was doing and seemed intrigued, so I offered to let him take a few swipes. We both agreed that the plane may not be the most beautiful thing to behold, but it sure does a nice job of smoothing. It’s purpleheart body and ipe (Brazilian walnut) sole add plenty of heft, which is what you want in a smoother. It helps carry the momentum of the stroke as you’re planing. And in spite of it’s boxy look, it was comfortable to use.
This plane has a set screw on both sides of the plane to help align the iron and keep it in position. Veritas® has the same feature on their planes. I wonder who thought of it first and if Steve will get a letter from a Veritas attorney?
My only other comment on the Knight smoother pertains to the adjustment screw for the mouth. It would have been nice to have some sort of thumbscrew or knob to make the adjustment. Steve uses an allen screw which forces me to hunt around the shop for an allen wrench when I need to adjust the mouth opening. I guess I just need to keep my shop more organized!
Overall, I was pleased with the performance of the Knight smoother. Pleased enough that I plan on keeping it within easy reach next to my other planes. I plan to use it on my next project. Nice plane, Steve!