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To understand the need for a plane-setting hammer, one need only look at the abuse that steel hammers have inflicted on vintage wooden planes over the years. Typically, these hard-luck planes suffer from mushroomed blade ends and badly dented bodies, all caused by years of getting struck by a steel hammer.
To protect planes from such a fate, the plane-setting hammer, made by Veritas, might be just the ticket. This tool gets the job done with a softer touch, so it won’t damage the blade or the plane body.
The secret to this hammer is its two-faced head—one is brass, and the other is wood. Plus, it’s relatively light, weighing only 8 oz.
The brass face is for setting blades. Brass is softer than the blade steel, so any overenthusiastic strikes are less likely to damage the blade.
When tapping the body of the plane to decrease the depth of cut or set the wedge, the wood face is used. It has enough heft to be effective yet not so much that it can mar the plane body.
I also have found the hammer very useful for setting bench planes, adjusting molding planes and tuning my infill smoother. Indeed, in the past, I was reluctant to tap the rosewood infill of the smoother with a steel hammer, and my small wooden hammer simply was too light. But by using the wooden face of the Veritas, I was able to make adjustments without fear of damaging the body.
I also found myself reaching for the hammer to do other miscellaneous shop tasks that required the finesse of a light-duty hammer. It was especially helpful for fine-tuning jig setups and tapping dovetail joints together.
If your handplanes have to be set with a hammer, this is a good one to use. It sells for about $15.
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