LJ friends and gifts. #12: Spiers of Ayr infill smoother - restore

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Blog entry by mafe posted 09-07-2013 09:43 PM 7930 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: A trip to Scotland, MaFe meets Jamie - visiting my friend Jamie Speirs. Part 12 of LJ friends and gifts. series Part 13: Jamies tool cabinet - a happy monkey in Jamies work shop »

Spiers of Ayr infill smoother – restore
A gift from my friend Jamie Speirs.

So back again!
I know I have not been so much around for a while, first I was sick for some months and then a long summer of travelling, in Denmark Jutland Thy, then Croatia, back to Denmark Sjælland Odden, kayaking and then finally Ireland and then Scotland to visit my friend Jamie. Then home to pack down the shop, that will be closed for house renovation until the new year (shit happens), so I will be without shop until the new year, this might give me time to post some of all the projects I have on my computer.

But now it is the visit in Scotland, the visit to my friend Jamie.
If you want to read more about this:

This part of the story starts here, in piles of wood and tools, on top and under Jamies work bench.
I could see hand planes sticking out all over and so Jamie and I started to look at all his wonderful planes, Jamie telling stories about them. Jamie is from a family of carpenters, so many was family pieces.

This one was his fathers.
In my eyes one of the most beautiful planes ever made.
The Spiers smoother, from Ayr where Jamie lives, even the metal was local.

Notice Jamies fathers name stamped into the plane.

As I admired his beautiful Spiers of Ayr smoother, that once was his fathers, the next plane I picked up was another Spiers of Ayr smoother, this one Jamie told me had belonged to his uncle and I was completely in love with it. As we were about to move on to talk about the next plane, Jamie told me that this Smoother was now mine, I was almost not able to understand it, so I was like in a coma for a moment, and then I think I looked like a small child on Christmas evening. The next days they all laughed a wee bit of me, since I never left it, it was with me where ever I went, even on the night table when I was sleeping.
On this picture I had removed the dust with a cloth.

In my eyes as I said, the Spiers No. 7 Dovetailed coffin smoother plane is perhaps the most elegant hand plane ever designed.
This makes sense when I read that Stewart Spiers was a cabinetmaker, father and a violin player, since in this plane I feel it all meets. Shape with beautiful balanced curves like a instrument, function that could satisfy him as a cabinetmaker and at the same time a human sensitive touch that makes it in balance, all in all art.

You can read more about the Spiers family here.

Even all the shapes so clearly meet here from the front, it is still in a fine balance.

A sexy behind.

Here the blade is retracted, it has a fairly tight mouth when the iron is set for cutting.

The iron out, still some good years back.

A Marpels & sons iron, probably the original.

Thos Ibbotson & Co cap iron.

Spiers Ayr in the Lever and a old name stamp J. Laird (is this family Jamie or a previous owner).

Look at those curves, it could have been the work of a instrument maker.

So I set out to give it a gentle restore, just to bring it back to working order.
As always I do what I can to keep as much life and patina intact, when doing this, since for me this is half the hand plane.
The goal is not to make it look like new, but to make it look as if it has been in use all the time.
The sole must be completely flat, so I mark up with a marker, so I can see where to flatten.
The text is for you Jamie, big smile.

I fasten some sandpaper on the table saw table after checking it was all flat.

After some long strokes I am happy with the result, since I know I will take of more, when I go up grid.
I started with 120 and worked my way up, don’t jump too big steps, this will leave scratches.

Now 240 grid.
And I have also given the cap and screw a touch up with ultra fine steel wool, to remove dirt and rust.

The finest we had here was 400 grid, so I had to settle with that, usually I go up to 600 – 1200 grid.

So I finish up with a buffing wheel, first a rough compound and then the fine green, in this way I get the desired result, also the sides get a good tour.

As seen I don’t mind a little pitting, as long as the sole gets dead flat and smooth.
The mirroring in the sole proves that it is smooth.
There need to be quite a lot of pitting before it will have any effect on the use, just think of a corrugated sole.

Same story with the iron.
The iron cant have too much pitting, since it will be impossible to make a consistent edge.

I put oil under the sand paper to keep it all flat at the high grids.

This is just perfect.

To give it a fresh cutting edge I use Jamies water grinder.

I choose to give it a stronger edge at a new angle.

Again I polish it up.
With this method it is important not to round the edge, so hold it as flat as possible.
I also touch up the iron and cap iron in general, just for the look and again really gentle, to keep the patina.

All the steel and wood is degreased a little, just to remove dried grease and dirt.

Then the wood gets Jamies oil, its a mix he makes him self, smells wonderful.
I also grease the moving parts a wee bit.

That’s it!
The plane is now just the way I like it.
A perfect user with a beautiful original patina, this is what I call mint.

As you can see, history is still written in the hand plane.

First shaves.

I love that plane.
It is easy to adjust, have a perfect contact with the wood and are a joy to hold in the hand.
I’m leaving on a Ayr plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again… tralalalala…

Press here for a little video:

Yes I am a wee bit eccentric when it comes to hand planes and this one sure is my little favourite.

Thoughts on design.
Here some of my favourites.

Why the curve on the middle of the Stanley planes (here a No 2).
I guess it came from design, that the side should be used for shooting but still your hand should be able to grab the tote and knob. The bedrock types are less elegant after my taste, but have a bigger contact area I suppose.
Where the Spiers is a Coffin shaped smoother, so useless on the side.
But it has more weight and are compared to the Stanleys almost sucking it self down to the wood.
The grip is wonderful and your hands naturally finds it positions in the tote and on the front handle.
The square shape of the front handle could be uncomfortable, but actually don’t feels so, perhaps not perfect.
But better than the standard Stanleys, that after my taste are to small, I like best the big knob types.
Of course it is not possible to compare the adjustment, since the Spiers are adjusted with a small hammer and the Stanley with screw and lateral adjuster, that makes it possible to use the plane with out a hammer in the toolbox, at the end the one adjustment is as easy and fast as the other, but for a beginner the hammer is a learning process, where the screw is possible for any one.
By the way, this little No 2 Stanley is useless after my opinion, and too expensive to give to the kids…
I much prefer a good block plane when the blade is this small.

The Stanley 62 is for me the most beautiful Stanley, and here I think design was as important as use.
It has the big knob and the handle have the elegant long tongue that I love on the Spiers.
Since the Stanley is often used on the side for shooting end grain, it would have been more functional with bigger sides, but I guess it was not designed for that…

Here the Norris A5 next to the Spiers.
Dam, they are both wonderful planes.
The Norris here with the more heavy handle, this is stronger and suits better the Norris types with the adjuster. (Since they look strange when the adjuster is hanging loose in the air).
I think the Spiers is a elegant swan and the Norris a beautiful Terrier, the Spiers looks like dancing aver the wood, the Norris like unable to even leave the wood – both sexy in each their way.
Yes I am a nerd and a rhykenologist merged into a human being full of love for form and function.

This picture is for you Jamie.
If you have any doubt, then I am happy to tell you I really love the plane and feel like a lucky bastard.
Also this plane will always be a favorite, for the reason alone that you offered it to me, my friend.

When I look at my smile here, I have no doubt that the plane could never find a better companion.
Thank you Jamie!

Press here for more on the Spiers hand plane:

Best of my thoughts from my heart,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

13 comments so far

View lew's profile


13272 posts in 4721 days

#1 posted 09-07-2013 10:22 PM

Thank you Mads for the wonderful photo journey. You certainly have done a masterful service to that beautiful plane!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25717 posts in 4072 days

#2 posted 09-07-2013 11:08 PM

Mads, it could not happen to a nicer fellow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jamie certainly made your day with that family plane. What a treasure!!
Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4300 days

#3 posted 09-07-2013 11:21 PM

Great story and restoration Mads. It must be wonderful to have an antique plane given to you by a dear friend and at the same time such a quality plane that you could not possibly wish for more from a single tool. Use it in good health my friend. I know it will be happy living in your shop.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19838 posts in 3534 days

#4 posted 09-07-2013 11:29 PM


-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Tugboater78's profile


2796 posts in 3158 days

#5 posted 09-08-2013 03:08 AM

She is pretty!

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


8964 posts in 3543 days

#6 posted 09-08-2013 03:08 AM

And that’s a perfect match, thanks for sharing.

View Schwieb's profile


1914 posts in 4427 days

#7 posted 09-08-2013 02:39 PM

Terrific story telling and photography, Mads. The plane is beautiful and you did a great job of bringing her back. I can’t say that I would have been so willing to give up a tool that had belonged to members of my family. Jamie is obviously a generous soul.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View GerardoArg1's profile


1014 posts in 2960 days

#8 posted 09-08-2013 04:22 PM

Beatifull story Mad. Congratulations…not only for the plane, if for the friends

-- Disfruta tu trabajo (enjoy your work) (Bandera, Argentina)

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3892 days

#9 posted 09-09-2013 01:21 PM

Mads, you have found the love of the Spiers planes that I have as well!

Great story and photos, thanks for sharing it!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Roger's profile


21047 posts in 3770 days

#10 posted 09-09-2013 10:19 PM

New baby! Congrats

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View mafe's profile


12844 posts in 4055 days

#11 posted 09-13-2013 03:01 PM

Hi there,
Yes I hate to admit it, but dam I am one lucky monkey!
Looking at the plane now as I write, with a big smile on my lips.
Roger, And well taken care of.
Justfine, So nice to see you. Yes we share a thing here, they are like the essence of infill I think.
Gerado, Mostely for the friendship. ;-)
Schwieb, Ken, yes he is a special man, I consider him family now, so in a way it was not all wrong.
waho6o9, Jamie and I / the Spiers and I / The Spiers and Norris? Laugh.
Tugboater78, Sexy one might say.
Don W, Like honey.
Stefang, I also know that this plane and I will be a pair, it talks to me such wonderful sounds and bring joy to my eye.
Jim, Big giant smile here. Acually I can’t wait to be able to get into the shop again and make some music with it.
Lew, Thank you back, life is such a miracle.
To all of you, I send my warm thoughts and wish you all the best,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4118 days

#12 posted 09-23-2013 02:39 PM

Mads you lucky bastard! You are proof that when you smile the world smiles with you.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View mafe's profile


12844 posts in 4055 days

#13 posted 09-23-2013 06:10 PM

Mauricio, that is just about the best thing I have ever been told – thank you from my heart.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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