Deneb Puchalski of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks uses a toothing iron to deal with materials that are difficult to plane. He first tooths the surface and then removes the toothing with a fine-set plane, usually a low-angle jack plane.
A few years ago he asked me if there was anything in the literature that supported this method. And this entry is a long-overdue reply.
From “The Panorama of Science and Art” (Caxton Press) by James Smith, 1825.
Though the double iron is an excellent invention, and the use of it is, in fact, the best general remedy known against the curling or cross-grained stuff of ordinary quality; yet, without some other assistance, the planing of many of the finest specimens of mahogany, and many other woods, among which fustic may be particularly mentioned, would be to the last degree a difficult and perplexing operation to the workman.
Hence a plane, the stock of which is usually made of the shape and size of the smoothing-plane, is fitted up so as to act by scratching or scraping. The blade, or iron, on the steel side of it, is covered with rakes or small grooves close to each other, and all of them in the direction of its length: when therefore it is ground, and the basil formed, its edge presents a series of teeth like those of a fine saw; the bed of the stock intended to receive it is inclined only about six degrees, and consequently when the iron is fixed it is almost perpendicular. On account of these teeth in the iron, the plane obtains the name of the tooth-plane.
With this kind of a plane, however hard the stuff may be, or however cross and twisted its grain, the surface may be made every-where alike, and will not be rougher than if it had been rubbed with a piece of new fish-skin. This roughness may be effectually removed with the scraper, which is a thin plate of steel, like part of a common case-knife, the back of it being let into a piece of wood, as a handle.
So there you go. Thanks to Jeff Burks for turning me onto the Panorama book several years ago. Lots of good stuff in there on joinery that isn’t in Peter Nicholson’s book.
— Christopher Schwarz