I recently won an auction for a Record No 043 plow plane on Ebay from a seller in England. I have always wanted one of these but the prices for these things is a bit high in the States. Not too many of them were sold on this side of the pond so the collectors who have them want about $100 for theirs. The sad part is that Record is no longer in business so buying a new one is virtually impossible.
What makes this plane so nice is its size and simplicity of use. Its small stature and ease to set up makes it an ideal tool to cut the grooves in bottoms of a drawers. In the past, I cut these grooves on the table saw which meant I had to take off the riving knife on my table saw, set the blade to cut a kerf about a 1/4″ high, then move the fence over to widen the groove to the size of a piece of 1/4″ plywood that I was using. This set up was time-consuming and making the groove the perfect width on the table saw was not always fool proof accurate.
Setting up the plane is a synch. I simply used a 3/16″ brass bar to set the blade from the fence and the height of the depth stop. It came with a 3/16″ and 1/4″ cutter but I’ll probably just use the 3/16″ exclusively as 1/4″ plywood is actually 3/16″ thick.
I own a Stanley No 45 and could use it as a drawer bottom plane but the 45 is a little too big and awkward to use when planing such a delicate groove. At 5 1/2″ long, the Record No 043 is half the size of the 11″ long No 45 and grips easily holding the back of the plane in the palm of my hand. With a little practice one could learn to use the plane with only one hand as long as you can keep the fence against the stock tightly.
As you can see, it creates a perfect fit for 1/4″ plywood which is what I primarily use when building drawers. As far as speed, it’s just as quick to plane these grooves as it is with a table saw. A few passes with the plane and the groove is cut.
Even though the Record 043 is no longer made, Lee Valley released a small plow plane a few years ago. The Veritas Small Plow Plane is a nice plow as I was able to use one at The Woodworking in America show last year. At 9″ long, that plane is smaller than a Stanley No 45 but still a little bigger than the Record No 043. You can buy the plane with a set of five blades for $275.00 so the guys who want $100 for the Record No 043 on Ebay may not be such a bad deal after all.