Friday, December 4, 2015

Wooden planes in a summer climate

Some things in the workshop are simply too much fun. Making tools in particular. Especially when they work better than expected.

I did a bit of tool making with Ian Percival, polymath and inventor extraordinaire while at CSA, plus turned a mallet with Richard Raffan (and an extremely ugly lidded container I seem to recall) and have fiddled about since with the various things that you have to make or modify.

A couple of months ago, I picked up a Hock Krenov style block plane kit which has sat acclimitising in the tool cabinet. But this week with free time as the rock maple side table is done and dusted, I have time to spend a couple of days faffing about.

The kit components were a bit rough but I wasn't expecting to end up with a Holtey so it was more about the process. Pretty straightforward and a quick introduction to how they go together and what needs to be prepped better.

It's actually quite petite, very sweetly balanced, sits nicely in my hands and works single or double handed. And cuts a very fine and consistent shaving.

I had to go to Krenov's Fine Art of Cabinetmaking where he covers plane making in some detail as I wasn't quite sure from the instructions as to the final height of the wedge relative to the blade top. As always with Krenov, the text is not simply a how-to but a why and what for which means that because I've had so much fun with this one, I've now hauled out the carcase of something I started at CSA at least fifteen years ago.

Comrade Stafenbiehl and I were intent on building a fleet of specialist planes such as shoulder rebate with brass soles. I'm not quite sure why I ended up the body of walnut and jarrah that I have and the fleet didn't eventuate either.

I also have no idea why the gap between the two blocks is so large, nor why I cut the bedding pitch block at 20 degrees. If I drew anything or made plans, they've long since been lost in one house move or another. Mysteries one and all, but it means I can treat this an exercise in let's see if this will work, and not shed a tear if it doesn't.

I haven't a blade that's suitable either, so I'll make do with a Sorby blade that was part of an infilled smoother bought, unwisely once again, from a tool swap. It's a nice hefty 3/16th but for the purposes of this exercise, I'll leave the chipbreaker off and use it up bevel up.

However the blade is not flat. Lord knows what happened to the poor bloody smoother at some point in its past - there are two cracks in the casting that someone has tried to repair with brass brazing, and putting a twist in a blade of this thickness takes talent. So will I wander over to the engineering workshop in Mitchell and see if they can squeeze it flat with one of their boofy vices or muck about with the wedge instead?

To be pondered, along with my crazy idea to fit the cross pin with a slip on triangular body. And of course I now need a brass hammer to tap the blade, so I've also dug out some brass pieces I turned up for some other project long forgotten and am eyeing off some sassafras cylinders as likely hammer heads. Two ounce heads seem to be the size of choice, and I'm looking forward to shaping up a drop style handle.

And after the play with the walnut body, there's a large pile of ash waiting for my attention, and oohhh look Lee Valley have blades without chipbreakers plus there are the Hock short blade sets to play with as well. This will be fun.

And here's the wee plane adjusting hammer with a brass face glued in using CA glue which I suspect won't last for long at all. Sassafras head and an ash handle.


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