Not long after I started up here, I saw the few threads of wayjep (Wayne Jepson) and some of his infill style hand planes he was working on. Having been attracted to that type of plane for some time, I sent him a pm and asked if I could purchase one when he had it ready.
Well, after several weeks of waiting, the plane arrived yesterday!
Today at work, I got the chance to "play" a little bit with the plane - spent maybe 45 minutes trying it on various woods like butternut, red oak, walnut, hard maple, basswood, African mahogany and a few others. I also tried some different depths of cut, and basically got comfortable with the tool.
I wont disclose the price here, just in case Wayne would rather not have it out in public, but I will say I got no deal on it - ie, I paid his full asking price plus postage. When I decided to put down the $$ for one of his planes, I did it for a few reasons... first, I really admire people who try do build things like this, that are seemingly simple but actually are fairly complex. Being familiar with metal working, I know what kind of time is put into such a project and can appreciate the time and effort. Also, I did not expect perfection, being as he (to my knowledge) has just a few planes completed as prototypes, and one other recent sale. I was basically keeping an open mind.
Well, my initial thought when I unpacked it was... wow! It really looked professional, much nicer than I had expected in the fit & finish dept. For me, I didn't expect (nor want) the entire plane polished to a high shine. I intend to use this at work, and the finish on the brass sides was similar to the higher end bronze planes I have seen, while the O1 tool steel sole was lapped to a fine finish with just a few very small scratches. The wood (ebony in my case) was fit perfectly into the metal sides, and polished to a shine. Really wonderful, I have to say. I had expected to see some marks left from the piening process - but there were none. The compound dovetails are filled 100%, and the filing job superb.
With a small engineers square, and a few other test instruments, I could see the sole is dead flat for almost all of it, with just a little "drop off" near the back 1/2" of the sole, of maybe a few thousandths on either side for about 1/4". The throat is very, very tight. WIth the 3/16" thick O1 iron in place, the cutting edge is almost touching the forward edge of the opening. The ebony where the iron sits is perfectly flat, and even with just moderate tightening of the cap screw, the iron is not able to be moved by hand or in use, but can be adjusted just with taps of a hammer.
Putting the smoother against a few of my other planes (some Veritas bench planes, and small BU smoother, and a few others) the finish on the wood surface - especially in woods like the butternut that are softer, are 100% better with the infill. I keep all my planes razor sharp, and they all took shavings easily on all woods I tested, but the infill left a definite smoother, near perfect finish.
All I can say is, I took a chance and I think I ended up with a very special, hand made tool I will keep for a long time. This plane feels amazing to hold, and use. The weight, the way it fits into my hands, etc all feel, well, great! I have already asked about getting Wayne to build me another, with different geometry.
Here are some photos I took before leaving work today...