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Apr 06

Marples X4 Smoothing Plane

Just a quick post about a Marples ‘X4’ plane I recently found. I couldn’t find a lot on the web about this plane, so hopefully this will show people some of the details of what, to me, seems like a fantastic tool.

The Marples X4 smoothing plane, which went into production in 1954. Production was short-lived, due to the high production costs of the plane's design.

The Marples X4 smoothing plane, which went into production in 1954. Production was short-lived, due to the high production costs of the plane’s design.

 

This view shows the distinctive wavy shape of the lever cap release. When you use the plane on it's side, on a shooting board for instance, your fingers have a much better hold with this grip. It's much less awkward than trying to shoot holding a plane with a standard lever cap.

This view shows the distinctive wavy shape of the lever cap release. When you use the plane on it’s side, on a shooting board for instance, your fingers have a much better hold with this grip. It’s much less awkward than trying to shoot holding a plane with a standard lever cap.

 

With the blade removed, you can see how Marples was clearly taking a design lead from the finer British infills available. The production on those planes pretty much got unsustainable around this time, so as the quality dropped slightly on those, Marples hoped to capitalise. Unfortunately, this plane suffered the same fate, and was short-lived.

With the blade removed, you can see how Marples was clearly taking a design lead from the finer British infills available. The production on those planes pretty much got unsustainable around this time, so as the quality dropped slightly on those, Marples hoped to capitalise. Unfortunately, this plane suffered the same fate, and was short-lived.

 

Another thing I love about this plane's design is the rounded top on the iron. Again, very distinctive.

Another thing I love about this plane’s design is the rounded top on the iron. Again, very distinctive.

 

This is perhaps the most interesting thing about the X4. An adjustable throat! By releasing the front two bolts, you can move a big hunk of metal back and forth, effectively opening and closing the throat, just like smaller block planes. The block is very well made, and mates well with the base.

This is perhaps the most interesting thing about the X4. An adjustable throat! By releasing the front two bolts, you can move a big hunk of metal back and forth, effectively opening and closing the throat, just like smaller block planes. The block is very well made, and mates well with the base.

 

Here you can see the block fully forward, so the mouth is open to maximum, but it could come right back if need be.

Here you can see the block fully forward, so the mouth is open to maximum, but it could come right back if need be.

 

I haven't even tuned this plane, I just spent a few hours removing sixty years of filth, but already it's taking feather shavings on the first few passes.

I haven’t even tuned this plane, I just spent a few hours removing sixty years of filth, but already it’s taking feather shavings on the first few passes.

At Hackney Tools, we buy old, good quality woodworking tools. If you have any tools you would like to sell, please get in touch using the contact form on the home page.

3 comments

  1. Roger

    Hello Gary – nice pictures of your Marples X4. I was trying to find the plane for a 2″ round-top blade with a long slot I came across – and I think I’ve found it! Can you tell me if your X4 blade has chamfered sides, and what length you think a full length one is? The bolt entry on mine isn’t even 3/4″ from its cutting edge, but it looks like it still has its factory edge.

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Gary I have just pick up a x4 of the eBay it look like its missing the lever adjust . I was wondering if I could get some measurment so I can make one up. Small research I have done it seem to have a red piece in the roll bit at the top of the lever.
    Cheer kristiankingfurniture@hotmail.com

  3. Andy

    hi Gary
    I seem to remember an article in which David Pye was asked to refine the design of the smoothing plane for Marples. I will try to dig it out but I am sure this was the outcome of his work.

    cheers
    Andy

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