Archive for October, 2009

Getting wedged

I finished forming the wedge for the bronze miter plane tonight.

I want to sit on the design for a day or so, as I’m still not sure about the proportions – the strike bulb at the top feels a bit large, but it helps make it easy to remove the wedge. And because the infills on these planes aew completely internal, the wedge is the only wood feature that extends beyond the lip of the plane; so a somewhat inflated bulb can be a nice design feature.

In the end, though, I’m leaning toward reducing the profile a bit. It just feels little top-heavy to me. I’ll see how I feel about it tomorrow.

I am really pleased with the repeat cupid’s bow treatment on the bridge and wedge, though. That’s staying as it is…

Shaping wood

After all the metalwork on the shell of a plane, it’s always a real treat to get to the point of shaping the wood for the infill. After all, love of woodworking is how I found myself doing this to begin with…

Here’s a sampling of the tools I use to shape the stuffing for infills. From left to right, there is an Auriou cabinet rasp, a pair of Gramercy tools rasps, a Heller vixen pattern file, a Bill Carter style chisel which has been hardened and blunted, the Benchcrafted Skraper (the coolest tool I never knew I needed til I got it), and a Lie Nielsen bed float.

The rasps are self-explanatory, other than to point out the Gramercy sawmaker’s rasp. It’s curved, and the concave side has teeth, while the convex side is safe – which makes it very easy to shape inside the cutout on a tote without accidentally gouging anything with the oustide of the rasp. This is the only tool of this pattern I know of.

The Vixen pattern file (they’re also called Mill tooth files sometimes) is a fantastic tool for hard exotics. It’s essentially a float-like tool, which is to say it’s row upon row of scrapers. While a good hand-stitched rasp is unparalleled in sculpting wood free-form, and can hog off stock very quickly – they leave a lot of witness marks on the wood. A vixen, or float, however, is capable of leaving nearly a nearly finish-ready surface.

In this photo, the proud section of the infills was left with a rasped surface. If you look closely (you may have to click the picture) you can see the witnesses of the rasp, most especially at the endgrain edges. The undercut portions on each piece were finished with the vixen file. These are not show surfaces, but the controlled removal of the vixen is very handy for the tricky fitting process of these planes.

These are the front and rear totes for a coffin smoother – the fitting of which is one of the most challenging things I’ve found in planemaking. You can do some roughing in of the shape before the shell is assembled, but the final fitting is an extremely tedious process, not least of which because there is no foolproof way of marking the overstuff ledges to the blanks. Essentially, you have to remove some stock, test fit, remove stock, test fit – over and over. I’d say I probably do at least 30 or 40 test fits on one of these to get it right.
I do have one secret weapon, though: dry erase markers. You can see above where I have colored the front bun section with green dry-erase. When I roughed in the bun initially, I left it about 1/8″ wider than it will end up. So when I insert it and press it into place, the dry erase gives me a great way to check the high spots. Remove the green parts, and repeat until you have the final fit you’re looking for.


Once the fitting is solid, I’ll french polish the bed and the ramp on the front bun because they’re much easier to do before the infills are pinned in place. Then I’ll drill for rivets and pein the infills in place. But first there’s more to be done on the miter plane…

The moment of truth…

Welcome to the Daedworks blog. It seems somehow fitting to launch this new blog with a new plane. Today was grinding and lapping day on the first of two new miter planes I’ve been working on the past couple of weeks. Grinding off the excess metal from peining the shell together, and then lapping the sole and sides of the plane down are a very cool stage in making an infill, but it also brings up some anxiety; it’s the point when you get to find out if all the hard work cutting, fitting, filing, and peening all came out OK, or if there is a problem.

And unfortunately, there are any number of things that can show up at this point that are all but impossible to fix properly. It’s also the first point in the construction when the plane starts to look reasonably good – until now it’s been a bunch of metal pieces with coarse surfaces, hammer marks, and rough filing. I wish I could say I’ve never experienced disapointment at this point in the process, but it wouldn’t be true.

Fortunately, though, today’s went rather well.

Now it’s time to start making a wedge – one of my favorite shaping chores. After that is done, I can do the final sole lapping, and finish up the mouth. The plane’s steel-sided twin is just a few steps behind, so hopefully it’ll come off as well as this one did when I get to that point – probably sometime next week.

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