For a small island we have more than our share of the best
plane-makers here in the UK.
Phil Edwards and others have set a
World-class standard but it is exciting to see a new maker
appearing. Itís also very pleasing to find that demand for
premium hand-made tools is strong.
Oliver Sparks is still young in years but he radiates a passion
for the craft that is backed by rigorous research and thorough
knowledge. His planes exude that elusive Ďmasterís touchí. He
will go far quite quickly, no doubt about it.
I had the opportunity to handle and test a number of Ollieís
planes some months ago, and was particularly taken with his
No70. I like smaller smoothers and I like woodies. I had been
using a Philly blackwood coffin smoother for some time, so I
took to this plane immediately.
It is called the No. 70 because itís based on the old Norris of
that type. I donít see many of these around, but one picture
reference I have is beech with the Norris adjuster (there may be
variants I am not aware of).
The significant differences here
are the use of fine Honduras rosewood, the deletion of the
adjuster and an incredible attention to all the details
resulting in a tool of the very highest quality.
The No. 70 is a small woodie smoother in all respects but with
one big difference. I describe this plane as a small smoother
but at 6 1/2Ē it has something of the feel of the old woodie
The introduction of a lever cap is its
distinguishing feature and the big gain is to get the clamping
pressure on the double-iron right down where it matters most
(just behind the cap iron leading edge).