Category Archives: spill plane

New Spill Planes

A new batch of spill planes is has been completed, and there are several in the store. This run has, in addition to the spalted maple and black cherry, includes several in European Beech.  Each plane has been sharpened and test cut, and is ready to use right out of the box.  Most of these will be going to Handworks next week and will be offered for sale.  I do not have a stand there, but will have them at Sterling Tool Works booth.  I hope to be there myself on Friday, so please stop by to say hi.

Spill planes with test cut spills

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

 

 

 

Spill Planes again in the Store

The current run of spill planes is now available for purchase in our store.  There are three wood options;  American Beech, Black Cherry, and Maple, with some light figure and/or spalting.  All are priced at $135, plus shipping. For more details about the spill plane, click here.

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Spill planes in Beech, Cherry, and Spalted Maple

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Spill Plane in black cherry.

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Spill Plane in American Beech

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Spill Plane in Spalted Maple

Spill Plane Update

Currently, the spill plane is out of stock.  The next batch is under way, and we hope to have them completed by mid November, and back in the store at that time.  These will be available in American Beech, Black Cherry, and Maple, which has some spalting and curly grain.

Anyone wishing to reserve a plane can do so by contacting us.  Payment will be due upon completion.

Here are a few progress photos:

Spill Planes with wedges cut and ready for bedding of the irons.

Spill Planes with wedges cut and ready for bedding of the irons.

Flattening the irons.

Flattening the irons.

Building a Spill Plane

We thought it would be helpful to detail a bit the process for making a spill plane here for those who may have purchased the Plan Kit and would like to learn more about the process.  Begin with a billet of a hard, quarter sawn, close grained wood.  Beech, Cherry,  Birch, and Maple are all good choices.  Avoid soft woods, as they will not hold up well to wear.  Also, open grained woods should be avoided because they are not a uniform hardness throughout.  The billet should squared up and sized at 10″ in length, 2″ high, and 1 3/4″ wide.  Quartered grain runs side to side, with face grain showing on the top and bottom.  The width is 1/8″ wider than finished size to allow for the saw kerf when ripping the left face off.  Once the billet is sized, lay out the screw holes, and drill and countersink for the screws. Be sure to drill 1/8″ deeper than the screws since that will be lost during the ripping operation.  It is also good to countersink the heads far enough below the surface to allow for finish planing of the side when assembled.  We use a template to lay out the holes, but for a single plane, simply using the full size plan as a pattern will work well.

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Using an awl to mark the holes prior to drilling the holes.

The bottom is then cut using a dado blade to create the fences on each side.  W leave a 3/8″ fence on the right side, and 7/16″ on the left.  The left side is then ripped off using a table saw with the saw fence set at 3/8″.  By removing the side, the mortise becomes much easier to cut.  Cutting the mortise is also done at the table saw, by tilting the blade and using the miter gauge set for the appropriate angles.  This can also be done with a hand saw and layout lines.  Notice in the second photo below that the bed cut is deeper and penetrated into the fence, which allows for the blade to do likewise.  This will be cleaned up with a float after reattaching the face.  Remove the remaining waste using a chisel and floats of rasps, making the surface flush with and parallel to the fence.

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Holes are drilled before removing left face, and bed and breast cuts are then made.

 

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Removing the throat waste, using care not to damage the sides.

After the waste is removed, the sides of the body and fence can be dressed with a hand plane, and reattached with the included brass screws.  We recommend pre threading the holes using a steel screw first, to minimize the chance of twisting off the softer brass screws.  Use a wax based lubricant to reduce friction when driving the screws.  Once the side is reattached, the bed needs to be extended into the sides of the plane using a 1/8″ edge float.  It is critical that the cutting edge of the blade extends into the fence on both sides of the sole, and that there is some wiggle room to allow for lateral adjustment of the blade to ensure it is square to the sole.

Next, the wedge needs to be made.  Start with a piece of stock 7/8″ wide and at least 7″ long, (to allow for holding and adjustments) with the quarter sawn grain direction running the same way as the plane body.  Rip the bed side to the angle shown on the print.   the breast side is a compound angle, and needs to be held in some type of fixture to use on a table or band saw.  Shown below is the fixture we use.  (The wedge blank shown should be longer if possible.)  Alternatively, a hand saw and plane can be used.  Regardless of how it is cut out, it will need to be refined with hand planes for an exact fit to the body and blade.

Wedge cutting fixture for use on the table saw.

Wedge cutting fixture for use on the table saw.

After fitting the wedge, the blade can then be bedded.  This process is accomplished by coating the back if the blade with a dry erase marker, fitting it into the body, and setting the wedge.  Tap the blade down through the plane to loosen the wedge, and remove. Any high spot will show up as places where the marker is rubbed off.   These high spots can be carefully leveled with a bed float or fine rasp.   This is a trial and error process, and should be repeated until there is even rubbing across the iron, especially at the bottom.  A hollow area in the middle is not a concern, but any low spots at the bottom will likely cause chatter in use.  As can be seen in the photo below, there is a high spot in the center that must be leveled out.

Bedding the iron using a dry erase marker and bed float.

Bedding the iron using a dry erase marker and bed float.

Once the bedding is complete, the escapement hole can be drilled.  This hole is parallel to the bed of the plane, and tangent with the front of the blade when installed in the plane.  Layout the location of the hole on the side of the plane body by transferring the bed line across the top and down the side.  Mark the height according to the print.  Make an wooden “blade” the same thickness and taper as the real one, and install this into the plane along with the wedge.   This will ensure there is no damage to the drill that can result from using the steel blade.  Use a drill press with a Forstner drill bit and a method to hold the assembled plane at the correct angle.  Drill through the side of the plane, and as far as possible through the wedge without hitting the far side of the body.  This creates part of the shape needed on the bottom of the wedge.  Notice the wedge is longer than needed, which allows for the drill to be completely buried in the wood to minimize the tendency to lead off.  Also notice the drill is breaking out slightly on the bed side.  This is what you are after.

Drill press and fixture being used to drill escapement hole.

Drill press and fixture being used to drill escapement hole.

Mark the bottom of the wedge front where it meets the sole, and remove.  The bottom of the wedge can now be cut away approximately 1/8″ above this line, parallel to the sole of the plane.  A round rasp can then be used to complete the contour left by the drill.   Be sure to leave the leading edge of the wedge sharp where it contacts the blade so shavings do not become entrapped.  the top of the wedge can now be contoured to your liking.

Wedge, top, after drilling. Bottom wedge has been finished.

Wedge, top, after drilling. Bottom wedge has been finished.

The escapement hole should be funnel shaped on the inside to eliminate places for the spill the snag.  All surfaces need to be smooth.  Test the plane using pine or similar straight grained soft wood, watching for jamming or irregular cutting.  Modify as needed to get a smooth cut and straight, finely curled spills.  Round over the ends of the plane, and clean up all surfaces in preparation for finishing.  We like to use Minwax Antique Oil finish, topped with paste wax. You now have a very unique wood plane;  the only plane where the shavings are what is used!

Completed spill plane with spills

Completed spill plane with spills

 

 

Improved Spill Planes in stock

The spill plane is now being produced with a tapered iron, which makes it easier to adjust and remove the blade.  Also, the finish has changed to an oil/varnish (Minwax antique oil finish) and topped with paste wax.  Currently available in three choices:  European Beech, Curly Maple, and plain maple, which has some spalting and light curl. The maple can vary from plane to plane.  Pictured below are the three options. Price is unchanged at $135 for all wood choices.  Ordering can be done here.

European Beech

European Beech

Tiger Maple

Tiger Maple

Maple with spalting

Maple with spalting

Spill Plane Plan Kit New Price

We have decided to make the Spill Plane plan kit price of $59 permanent. This kit includes full size plans, photos, construction notes, and a hardened and sharpened blade.  For more information, click here.

Spill Plane Plans

Spill Plane Plans

Spill Plane Plan Kit available now.

For those who wish to make their own spill plane, but lacked both the plans and the ability to manufacture a blade, Red Rose Reproductions now offers a package that supplies everything the user needs to make their own, except for the wood blank.  The full size plans are copies of a hand drawn “C” size (18″x 24″)  print.  This includes the plane body, wedge, and for those interested in making their own, the blade.  Also included are six color photos of various aspects of the plane, and three pages of construction notes intended to help guide the builder through the process. The blade, made of O-1 tool steel, is hardened and sharpened for immediate use.  Nine solid brass screws, used to fasten the left face to the body, round out the kit.  While not step by step instructions, all of the relevant information to build the plane is included.  We suggest intermediate to advanced woodworking skills for this project.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Spill Plane plan kit

For those who wish to order the plans only, this option is available at check out.  Also, the blades are available separately for those who would like to make  additional planes, although we would suggest building one plane the first time to work through the process.  They make a very unique gift, even to those who are not woodworkers. The spills themselves are fun to give away, and make great mantle decorations. For more information on the spill plane, see the post here.  To order, click here.  For tips on building the spill plane, click here.

Ready to use Tools

Panel Raising Plane with test cut panel and User Guide.

Panel Raising Plane with test cut panel and User Guide.

Spill plane with test spills ready to ship.

Spill plane with test spills ready to ship.

When a customer orders a plane from Red Rose Reproductions,  they can be assured that it has been individually tested in the shop before shipping.  In fact, a test piece, or a bundle of spills, goes in the box with plane.  They also come with a users guide for assistance in set up, use and care of the tool.  I want satisfied customers, and believe this to be a top priority.

Also, I am planning to have the panel raising plane available at the Lie-Nielsen event in July, after which it will be available here in the store.

Observations on the Spill Plane

I made my first spill plane as a demonstration tool for a 4th grade field trip several years ago, and the children (and adults too) were fascinated by it.  It was neat to have them guess what the spills were used for in colonial times, which they usually did not know, but when they found out the answer, they tended to think it was a pretty ingenious solution to a common need.  Without a doubt, the spill plane is the biggest crowd pleaser  at demonstrations, especially when attendees get to make their own spill.  In just a few minutes, several dozen spills can be produced.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

There are a few things that need to be kept in mind when using the plane.  First, the wood used for the spills needs to be a soft pliable wood; I find white pine to be ideal.  A hard wood will not curl satisfactorily into tight spills.  Clear straight grain is also essential.  I have found nice pieces from shipping crates by cutting around the knots.  The piece needs only be about 12″ long.  I am not sure how many spills can be made from one board, but it would be in the thousands.  Be sure to use wood that is not too dry.  I have more trouble in the dry winter weather getting nice spills, because the wood is not as flexible, and tends to split.  Storing the wood in an unheated environment helps.

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Two other tools are necessary to keep the spill plane in top working order.  One is a plane hammer, and Sterling Tool Works makes a very nice well balanced hammer for this purpose.  I highly recommend this fine tool.  Lee Valley also makes a hammer that will do the job at a lower cost.  The hammers are designed to adjust the plane without damaging either the wood body or the blade.

Wax is also essential for the longevity of the wood body.  I use paraffin wax, the type used for canning, but a candle will also work.  Rub it on the sole and sides of the fences every few dozen strokes.  This reduces the friction on the plane and makes it easier to push.  Under vigorous use, the sole of an unwaxed wood bodied plane will actually generate enough heat to discolor and burn the wood.  It will smell like burning wood!

If the board gets out of square, most likely the blade is not square to the sole of the pane.  Using the plane hammer, tap the blade toward the lighter cutting side.  Sighting down the sole, look for an even protrusion of the iron across the width of the mouth.

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Spills were often kept on the mantle, which is where they would have been used most often.  Find an old cup or vase to display them, and wait for the  “What are these things?” from guests.  Of course, a demonstration is then in order!

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Spill Plane

Reproduction Spill Plane
Completed spill plane with spills

Completed spill plane with spills

The spill plane was a unique 18th century tool that was not used to improve the surface of the wood, but rather to create a shaving with a tight stiff curl that could be used to transfer a flame from one place to another, such as from a fireplace to a candle or lantern.  Spills would have been made of pine or similar resinous wood.  The plane was used as any wooden plane would be, using straight grained scraps of wood about 12  inches long.  Each pass produces a spill, so named for the way the chip “spills” out of the escapement hole in the side of the plane.  The blade is sharply skewed, and the chip is forced into a tight curl by the contoured bottom of the wedge.  The edges of the spill overlap each other, which gives the spill a tapered shape.

While there are many types of spill planes, the ones that we produce are patterned from an 18th century original, and feature a two piece body, skewed blade, and escapement hole in the side through which the spill exits the plane.  The blade is adjusted using a small hammer, such as one sold by Lee Valley or, for tool lovers, one by Sterling Tool Works, which is also available here. We have made planes of American Beech, Black Cherry, and Maple with spalting and/or light figure, all quarter sawn wood.  The plane body is actually two pieces, with one side ripped of  to make it easier to create the mortise and bed for the blade.  It is then reattached with brass screws. The blade is made of tapered O-1 tool steel, hardened to Rc 60-62, and sharpened, ready for immediate use.

Available for purchase here.  Price is $135.  For those who wish to make their own, a plan kit, including full size plans, construction notes, photos, and a ready to use blade can be purchased here.

The wedge is shaped to facilitate the curling of the spill and guide it through the escapement hole.  It is also taper both ways, which ensures that it will fit against the escapement side of the throat to ensure there is no gap for shavings to jam. Both sides of the plane have fences to keep the plane centered on the stock, allowing a maximum of 7/8″ thick material to be used.  Finish is several coats of Minwax Antique Oil Finish and paste wax.

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From left, American Beech, Black Cherry, and Spalted Maple

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Spill plane components

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Wedge detail

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Iron logo

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Front showing dual fences

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Each plane is test cut before shipping, and comes with a users guide.

These planes are usually available in various woods. They are new tools, used only for the tuning process, and are sharp and ready to go.  A user guide is included, telling about the purpose of the plane, and tips for using and care.

 

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