Canadian Woodworking

Melbourne Tool Company low-angle, bevel-up smoothing plane

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A well-designed, accurately machined, stellar looking low-angle smoothing plane at a highly competitive price.

Author: Carl Duguay

The new Melbourne Tool Company (MTC) #49414 smoother is a welcome addition to the field of premium quality low-angle, bevel-up smoothing planes that has been largely dominated by Lie-Nielsen and Veritas. This MTC hand plane is well-designed, accurately machined, preforms remarkably well, looks great, and is a lot more affordable than other models currently on the market.

Manufacturer: Melbourne Tool Company
Item: MTC-49414
Price: $199
Bed angle: 12°
Blade bevel angel: 25°
Blade width: 51mm | 2″
Blade thickness: 3.2mm | 1/8″
Body material: Ductile cast iron
Blade material: M2 high speed steel
Sole length: 8-13/16″
Weight: 1.5 kg | 3.3 lbs.
Made in: China
SourceTegs Tools

I’ve been using this MTC plane in my shop for almost two months and am very pleased with it’s performance. At just over 3 pounds it’s light enough to use for extended periods of time without straining hands or forearms. Coupled with it’s small size you get a high level of tactile feedback when planing and the finely adjustable mouth enables me to take consistently thin shavings in the .03mm to .08mm (.001″ to .003″) range.

The body of the plane is finely ground with the sides perfectly square to the sole, which means that you can use the plane on it’s side as a shooting plane. If you find the edges a little too sharp for your liking you can dress them ever so lightly with 220-grit sandpaper.

MTC low angle smoother
Sides are square to the sole.

The sole is about as flat at you can expect it to be at the three crucial places for the plane to do its job well –  the toe, the mouth area and the heel. With a straight edge placed across the sole at these three locations, light is visible at the toe and about 1/2″ either side of the mouth – less than .03mm/.001″ (about half the thickness of a sheet of paper), which is standard for premium hand planes.

MTC low angle smoother
Sole is acceptably flat.

The frog needs to be perfectly flat along it’s entire length and parallel to the sole – just as it is on the MTC. The installed blade mates perfectly flush with the frog while the lever cap screw seats square to the frog without any wobbling.

MTC low angle smoother
The frog is perfectly flat.

The machining at the front of the plane for the adjustable mouth and the front handle is excellent. The mouth plate sits flush with the sole and moves smoothly back and forward.

MTC low angle smoother
The casting for the front knob (L) and adjustable mouth plate (R) is clean and crisp.

MTC uses a Norris-type adjuster that regulates both the depth of cut and the lateral position of the blade. While it does take a bit of practice to manipulate properly, it has fine enough threads that you can make fairly minute adjustments to blade projection.

MTC low angle smoother
Norris adjuster enables fairly precise blade adjustment.
MTC low angle smoother
Norris blade adjuster in place with level cap installed.

The lever cap was the only item on the MTC that showed any imperfections in castings – and these are quite small. The top side looked great, but underneath there was evidence of some cosmetic issues. Fortunately it doesn’t affect the efficacy of the cap.

MTC low angle smoother
Cap iron has some minor pitting but locks down securely.

The 25° bevel angle blade that comes standard with the MTC gives you an effective cutting angle of 37°. I find it works well for straighter grained wood and for all the softer woods. It’s also especially effective on end grain.

The blade was accurately ground with the cutting edge square to the sides. The back of the blade was sufficiently flat that I didn’t see any need to touch it up. Ditto for the bevel. Edge retention has been excellent and I find the blade easy to hone. Once the cutting edge dulls sufficiently I’ll regrind it on my Tormek (simply because I find hollow ground blades quicker to hone)

MTC low angle smoother
Blade cutting edge is is perfectly square to side, has good edge retention and sharpens easily.

With the addition of the 50° and 38° (giving you effective cutting angles of 62° and 50°) there is really no wood or grain pattern that this plane can’t handle. Don’t be dissuaded from using these supplementary blades –  switching and adjusting blades is super easy.

MTC low angle smoother
Blade option’s (L to R): 50°, 38° and 25°.

The front handle and tote (rear handle) are superbly turned and very comfortable to hold. The elliptically shaped front handle is almost 2″ high and wide, affording a secure grip – more so than the smaller handles found on some planes.

MTC low angle smoother
Beautifully turned front handle and tote.

If you’re looking for a bevel-up smoothing plane the MTC #49414 won’t disappoint. MTC also has a low-angle jack plane and block plane when you’re ready to expand your hand tool kit.

MTC low angle smoother
Overall, an excellent plane that’s easy to adjust and use.

Published:
Last modified: January 12, 2024

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.


5 Comments

  1. I had the opportunity to play around with all 3 of their hand tools at the recent Hamilton Woodshow and came away highly impressed. Terrific performance at a bargain basement price point.

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