Daddy – your plane looks pretty, but if you want to make it really good you need to paint a unicorn on it. I can help if you don’t know how.
— zoe eden nelson (age 5)
Two weeks ago, I finished the last plane I’ll make in Daed Toolworks Lab v1.0; I’ve shut down planemaking here to get everything ready for our impending move to the Indianapolis area. We’ve been planning this move for a very very long time now, and while I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the shop where I started this little thing, I’ll console myself with the fact that the new toolworks Lab will have an order of magnitude more space. I’ll post some information about the new shop in the future, but for now I’ll just comment that it’s (very) big, but lends itself to organizing, and that I’m pleased with it in much the same way my dog would be pleased with 35 pounds of raw bacon.
So there’s the explanation for the interminable silence of the blog for the past few months. It’s been a mad rush to get a bit ahead on orders before shutting everything down for what I anticipate will probably be most of the remainder of 2011. In the midst of all the mayhem, though, I have managed to squeeze in some prototype work on a few new planes, two of which will be regular offerings, and one of which will not. As part of that prototyping, I have also been working with a new infill species which I’m now quite confident is stable and beautiful enough that I’m adding it to the list of available infill woods.
The first new plane I’m introducing is one that I actually built about six months ago, but I couldn’t introduce it until now. It is the largest of the unhandled coffins – the CS3 – which uses a 2-inch wide blade, and comes in at just about 8-inches long. The reason it needed to ‘age’ before introduction is that the prototype plane was the first test platform for the new infill material offering: Ceylon Satinwood. To the best of my knowledge, this beautiful species has never before been used in an infill plane. It’s a bit more subtle than some of the other woods I use, and is extremely difficult to photograph adequately; in good lighting, though, it has a degree of chatoyance that I’ve never seen in another wood species. The surface glimmers and shifts with movement like the hologram on my driver’s license. While the bronze sidewalls are a much riskier stylistic choice than steel, I wanted to see how the combination looked over time. It’s an unusual look, and certainly isn’t for everyone, but overall I’m quite taken with it — and so far I like it better and better the longer the bronze has to patinate.
The next plane I made, which was finished at the end of the summer, is one that I’m not going to be replicating again. It’s a thumb plane, about five inches long, in bronze sidewalls and some beautiful kingwood infills.
I made the plane because I have never used a thumb plane before, and I’ve always been quite taken with the thumb planes Brian Buckner makes. I did redesign the sidewalls and infills to reflect my own sensibilities, though I did incorporate a stepped chamfer at the rear of the plane as an homage to Brian. This is a detail based on one from a damascus rabbeting block plane he made several years ago, and his execution of it is one of the most beautiful details on a plane that I’ve ever seen. I didn’t pull it off nearly as elegantly as he did, but it’s still a detail I appreciate.
In the end, while I do quite like the plane, I really don’t think it fits with the rest of the planes I’m offering. To be honest, if I saw a photo of it online I would think it was another maker’s plane. It just doesn’t look like ‘me’ to me. So even though I like the plane aesthetically, it’s going to be a one-off. I’ll probably revisit the thumb plane at some point — it really is a great configuration for a small plane — but not until I work out a design that reflects my personality better.
And finally, the other new introduction is a plane I’ve been working out in my head for months now. I humbly introduce the Daed Toolworks CS-T handled coffin smoother. I worked with Ceylon Satinwood on this plane as well as the CS3, so I could get a view of the wood with steel sidewalls as well. I think this combination is much more universal, and is a great option for those who prefer a somewhat more subtle aesthetic than many of the rosewoods I use.
There are one or two small details I’ll likely adjust for ‘production’ versions, but the only noticeable change will be just behind the bed, in the profile where the side infills separate from the tote:
In the prototype, the profile is an ogee shape that, in hindsight, is a little ornate for the otherwise sparse design. In subsequent planes, I’ll be using an increasing radius cove profile at this point, which I think will match just a little better with the rest of the design. Other than that, though, I’m quite happy with the smoother, which is a pleasure to use. I can’t wait to make one in African Blackwood!
More ramblings on WIA, the state of handtool toolmaking, and details of Daed Toolworks Lab v2.0 will appear in these pages over the following weeks.