Monthly Archives: December 2017

The search for beech continues

Finding suitable beech for plane making has been an ongoing challenge.  We cut a large amount ourselves that we are air drying, but that will be some time before it will be dried enough to use.  In the meantime, a source of 4″ square European beech billets has been located.These are rift sawn, and it takes a good bit of work to get nice quarter sawn billets form them, but the reward is beautiful ray flecking on the quarter sawn faces. (One of the pieces of beech in the photo below shows how it would be cut to obtain a nicely quarter sawn smoother billet like the one in the foreground.)  European beech has more prominent flecking than American beech. A limited amount of this wood is suitable for larger billets such as jack and try plane stock. We also have secured wider stock for use as totes.   To learn more, click here.  To see current beech billet offerings, click here.

Hollow and Round Plane Making Classes

Last year, I taught a couple of classes on making a pair of #8 (1/2″radius) Hollow and Round molding planes as a trial run to see how things would go.  The students all seemed pleased and left with completed of nearly completed planes.  I have decided to proceed with more classes as part of my offerings.

My shop is small so class is limited to three students per class.  Each is given their own work space and a “Milkman’s” bench to work at. (See photo of the bench below.)   These clamp on benches work beautifully and will hold the planes in any necessary position for the extensive hand work required.  These classes are  taught in a way that the student can go home and make more planes using the same techniques with minimal investment in tools or fixtures.  Emphasis is almost entirely on hand tools with the exception of a drill press to start the mortise and bench grinders to grind the profile onto the irons.  The primary goal is to complete the round in class.  This is then used to shape the hollow.  It may be possible to complete the hollow also, depending on the student and how class progresses.

We will be making the round plane first, starting with the billet and cutting the mouth with a back saw.  The mortise will be sunk in and the wedge fitted.  The iron is then bedded to ensure a good tight fit. Profiling the sole is done with a block plane and the shape is then refined with sand paper.  The iron will be ground to match the sole of the plane and we will then be doing heat treating and tempering to harden the blade.  Final detailing and sharpening will complete the round.

If time permits, we will proceed to the hollow, using the completed round to profile the sole.  Finish will be discussed also.

Class is $475 per student.    Billets of quarter sawn beech can be provided at $10 each and blade blanks at $22 each. Each three day class runs from 9 am to 5 pm, Thursday through Saturday, with an option to start earlier on the second and third day of classes.  Below is a detailed class description and policies and also a tool list of needed tools.

Class Description Hollow and Rounds

Plane Making Class Tool List

Classes are scheduled for the following dates:

  • September 6-8, 2018   
  • November 1-3, 2018      

To sign up, click here.  A down payment of $150 will be required at the time of sign up to hold your place in the class.  This will be applied toward the total class cost of $475.  This is nonrefundable if canceled less than three weeks before class, as stated in the class description.  Once signed up, a class description with additional information will be sent out via email.

Each student will receive a full scale drawing of the #8 hollow and round planes being made.

The Milkman’s bench.  Each student will have one to use for the duration of the class.

A completed pair of planes.

Improved Panel Raising Planes

Sold out.  Sign up for our newsletter to learn when our next production run and preorders will begin.

After making a prototype with some design changes of a panel raising plane, we are beginning production of a small run.  These should be completed about the end of January, 2018.  Price is $595 plus shipping. Because of the limited number available, we are accepting orders for those wishing to reserve a copy.  A deposit of $100 is required with the remainder due upon completion.  Shipping will be calculated at that time.  For those interested, send us an email, and we will send an invoice via PayPal for the deposit.

The changes from previous runs include the following:

  • The iron thickness has increased at the cutting edge to 3/16″ from 5/32″, and will be professionally heat treated.
  • Redesign of the throat geometry, specifically a higher wear angle.
  • Cosmetic changes to the wedge and the addition of a cove along the right side of the plane.
  • Refined nicker and wedge design.
  • The profile remains unchanged.

Below are a few photos of the prototype.   Based loosely on a design by plane maker Tod Herrli, this plane will cut a 1/8″ deep fillet around the field of a panel, along with a 1 3/8″ wide bevel that slopes down to the last 3/8″, which then becomes a 1/4″ thick tang that will fit into the groove of the stiles and rails in the frame.  When inserted into a frame, the reveal will be 1″. The plane includes a depth stop along both sides of the profile for consistent results, and will stop cutting when final depth is reached.  A nicker improves cross grain cutting.  With a blade bedded at 45 deg and skewed at 30 deg, it will cut cleanly on both long and end grain. The plane is different from most panel planes in that it is only 10″ long; similar in length to molding planes.  Being shorter is an advantage when raising short or narrow panels, as it is easier to control. Because the panel would already be flat, the extra length is not needed.  The back is contoured for the user’s palm to sit comfortably when pushing. Iron is made of tapered O-1 tool steel. The wood used is quarter sawn American Beech, finished with Minwax Antique Oil Finish and paste wax.

 

Sample panel showing both long and cross grain cuts.

Rounded heel for user comfort.

 

Spring line is clearly visible as a visual aid when using.

 

Top view showing skewed blade.

 

Nicker and wedge for clean cross grain cuts.