Wednesday 29 February 2012

The batch of planes is complete, they took a total of 44 hours which is just over 2 hours per plane, not bad. The idea of using the old cast steel blades was to keep the cost down, they were £3 each instead of £20 for my specially made blades. The steel is very good but they took more time to prepare and sharpen. They will be selling for £89.

The finish I used was two coats of Melamine Laquer which was thinned 10% for ease of application and ragged on thinly. It smells awful so I wore a mask and kept the workshop door open. The coats dry within a minute and were left to fully harden overnight. I then rubbed them out with micro mesh abrasive working from 1500 grit to 3600, with a final coating of carnauba wax to complete the job. This produces a lovely gloss finish which paricularly suits the Kingwood.

These are really useful little planes and the curly walnut was smoothed with ease. The tight mouth and the 52 1/2 degree bed angle ensured there was no tearout to the reversing grain.

This one is in Bocote also known as Mexican Rosewood (although not a true rosewood).

I made two in Macassar ebony a very dense brittle timber.

Most of the batch were made from Kingwood a rare and wonderful rosewood. I hope I put it to good use.

I used gold in my name stamp for the first time and I think it looks good.

Monday 27 February 2012

Final Fitting

Here I'm chopping out the mouth opening by dropping a chisel into a knife line. I mark the line with a square which should line up with the blade if everything has been done accurately. I creep up on the mouth openning to avoid going too far, after a few years of practice this usually only needs two marks with the square to locate the mouth position. The paper pad provides support but is forgiving enough to not dent the wood.

Here is a typical mouth openning, just enough to let a shaving through. The blade angle on this batch is 52 1/2 degrees so it is designed to plane without tearout on most woods.

Here is a picture with the wedge installed. You can see it is curved which provides two points of contact on the flat underside of the cross pin, this is an important detail which makes sure the blade is held very tightly in place. You'll also notice I've chosen a different wood for the wedge which has much more spring than the very dense Kingwood. This spring is also important in ensuring a tight fitting wedge. The wood I've used here is Lacewood (London Plane) but Oak, Ash and Walnut are all good alternatives.

Friday 24 February 2012


The blades for these planes are taken from 100 year old cast steel irons by Herring who were well known for their carving chisels. Although the blades were only hardened for part of their length it was too far up to be cut with a hack saw. I had to resort to hitting them with a lump hammer in an engineers vice to crack them in the right place (ish!). The backs were initially flattened on a linisher and the tops were rounded on a disc sander.

The Herring logo.

The blades were unused and had a shallow 20 degree bevel. I straightened the edge and then hollow ground them at 25 degrees on my high speed grinder. The final honing was done at 30 degrees which can be seen as the fine polished narrow edge.

I've recently been sidetracked with a Norris A6 recently purchased which has multiple cracks to the rear handle. Thankfully the cracks had not been repaired which makes things a lot easier! I filled the cracks with epoxy and clamped the handle as tight as I could. The handles need refinishing but hopefully by the time I've finished the repair it will be invisible as well as strong.

Friday 17 February 2012

Pocket Plane Shaping

Here I'm using a plug cutter to form the round tenons on the ends of the cross pin. The Flip Stop arrangement on my drill press is very useful in keeping things steady. I always make a few extra cross pins especially with such a small plane, the cross pin is 8mm square and the round pin is 6mm diameter which leaves very little margin for error.

Here are some blanks glued up, remembering to put put the cross pin in of course!

This is the first shaping cut on the band saw using a 6mm blade and with the blank laying on its side.

The front and rear then get three shaping cuts on each corner, freehand on the band saw.
Although this technique advocated by James Krenov and Sam Maloof is very useful, it is also potentially very dangerous, so no pictures!

Here I'm using the spindle sander for cleaning off the marks left by the band saw. I also use it for refining the curves on the front and rear, the disc sander tends to burn this dense wood.

The last stage is with the Kirjes pneumatic sander which is a wonderful little tool for finishing curved surfaces. I start with 80 grit and work through each of the grits up to fine finish with 400 grit. It doesn't take very long for each plane but with 21 to do its about 90 minutes of fairly boring work.

Friday 10 February 2012

Pocket Planes

This is a new plane which will be 5 1/2" long with a 1 1/4" wide blade. Its made from 2" turning blanks which are quite reasonable and also allow me to pick defect free quatered stock. The 21 blanks have been accurately planed to 49mm square.

A nice piece of Bocote also known as Mexican Rosewood.

Most blanks are from Kingwood a rare and beautiful timber. It's also very hard and dense and will sink if placed in water, perish the thought!!

This is my little marking out kit with 2 sliding bevels set at 52 1/2 degrees for the bed and 60 for the escapemnet. The perspex allows me to set everything out including the hole for the cross pin.

Before I separate the blank I drill 6mm holes for the dowels as well as the cross pin. I'm pictured here doing the last step of putting a small chamfer on the cross pin hole, it leaves a nice finish.

I'm now cutting each side from the blank with my home made fence. The blade and the fence are set dead square to the table, the secret to everything running smoothly is accuracy at every stage.

I use a carbide tipped blade on my band saw which gives a very clean finish. Here I'm using a Stanlet no 81 scraper to smooth off the band saw marks. Fitted with a Hock blade this is a formidable tool!

Thursday 9 February 2012

Wokshop Floor

To complete the re arrangent of the workshop I've re painted the grubby floor a nice bright yellow, it hasn't been done for 8 years and it looks a million times better!

Sunday 5 February 2012

Workshop re organisation

I've been rearranging my workshop to add in two more workbenches in preparation for teaching. The benches are both ones I use to demonstarte at shows and they were taking up valuable room in the wood store next door. The photo above shows my 'make up' table which I've moved across to use as my sanding / grinding station.The shot below shows how it was before, the crappy old stand has gone to the dump!

This is my make up table before the move, the wide top you can see has been reduced in width to fit in its new home.

The bench below is now doubling as my new make up table. This hasn't been out for a while as its a bit heavy to take to shows, I overdid things when I made it!

Below is my old sharpening station, this too has gone to the dump.

It has been replaced with my current mobile bench, which is my best design yet, although I over compensated on the size of the top which is a bit short. I can feel another bench making project coming!

Just for good measure here is a shot of the bench I use in the workshop, it is definately not portable!

You may notice that all of the benches have a leg vice fitted. The top one is a metal one by Veritas, the one above is a large wooden one which I made myself (my favourite), and the one below is a very sweet running version by Benchcrafted.