After using the Gordon Block Plane extensively over the past year I can confidently say that this has got to be one of the sweetest planes I’ve ever used. The plane is made of ironwood (also available in ebony and gidgee), which on a hardness scale is twice as hard as maple and 50% harder than jarrah. The interlocking grain structure of the wood makes it very stable.
The plane comes with a blade setting block (essentially a squared block of wood) and instructions. It’s cut from a single piece of wood (it doesn’t have the cheeks glued to the body as you find on many other wooden planes). The body has a contoured shape, and is exceptionally well finished; no sloppy workmanship here. The sole is virtually dead flat both across its width and length. Likewise, the throat plate is flat and smooth. Two solid brass abutment cheeks hold the wedge in place. The mouth is very narrow, which is what you want to produce silky thin shavings. The handle is a nicely turned knob, sized appropriately for the plane, while the hollow ground blade (heat treated to Rc 62-64) is hefty at ⅛” thick, and comes fully sharpened.
To set the blade correctly you simply place the plane body on the setting block, insert the plane iron (ensuring that the face of the iron rests squarely on the block), insert the wedge and holding it firmly, tap the iron home. To back up the iron you tap lightly on the plane body just in front of the throat.
The plane is about 7″ long, 2 1/8″ wide, 1 1/2″ high and weighs 1 3/4 lbs. It fits very nicely in the hand. I think that on a plane like this you probably want to leave it adjusted for very fine cuts (and use your metal block plane for making coarser cuts). Right out of the box I was able to produce whisper thin shavings. In fact I used the plane for almost a week before honing the blade.
I tried it out on a range of figured woods with great success; it cuts like a hot knife through butter. In fact, what makes this plane cut so well is the rather steep blade angle of 55º. You can also reverse the blade to get an 85º angle in case you need to use the plane as a cabinet scraper on wood with really unusual grain.
The plane is so well made that Gordon offers an unconditional guarantee. A mark of confidence on his part, and the ultimate offer of security for the buyer.
At around $130 CDN this is very good value in a block plane. It will last for decades, and is a real delight to use.