St. James Bay - Thumb PlaneThe St. James Bay thumb plane is a reproduction of a classic British design originally made by Thomas Norris. It's made of silicon bronze with an ebony infill.
St. James Bay is a small firm in Mesa, Ariz., that produces handmade tools at reasonable prices. The company’s thumb plane is a beautiful reproduction of a classic British design originally made by Thomas Norris. It is made of silicon bronze with ebony infill and has a high-carbon tool-steel blade. With the exception of some minor honing of the blade, the thumb plane was ready to use right out of the box.
Both the solid lever cap and the extralarge bed filled with ebony are impressive. The solid bed, coupled with the vibration-dampening qualities of ebony, supported the blade well through a series of demanding tests. When other planes had taken their last shavings, the St. James Bay blade held up and kept cutting.
Even though there is no adjustable throat on this tool, the throat is tight enough to produce fine results on end grain, miters, and long grain. Users will need to make lateral adjustments to the blade by hand-tweaking it within the casting.
There is a loose shoe that fits under the lever-tensioning screw. This shoe is somewhat difficult and tedious to position, and because it is a small, separate part, it would be easy to misplace.
The feel of the tool was foreign to some of the people in my review group, but it in no way impeded the quality of the results the tool delivered. All in all, the St. James Bay thumb plane was a solid performer with a strong aesthetic appeal.