As many of you will have noticed, I’ve pretty much let this blog/site lay idle for nearly a year. Quite a few factors have played their role in this, family, change of job, etc. but most of all, I think I mislayed my woodworking/planemaking Mojo. A couple of things just happened to fall in place over the last couple of weeks, and I think that I may have stumbled across my Mojo once more.
Firstly, I had a request for a Small Shoulder Kit, that prompted me to look for a new supplier of water jet cut parts (the cost had rocketed at my previous supplier), this search is now coming to a close and I think that I have a new supplier that makes it viable once more to offer kits at a price point that I find acceptable. I’ll update in the next few days as to whether I’m able to keep the price as it was , or if I need to apply a small increase. I’m quite hopeful at the moment that it’ll remain as is.
Secondly, I was asked to assess a new CAD package for school, so I obviously had to find a project to try it out on. I’ve been meaning to build myself a traditional toolmakers/machinists cabinet for a few years, and this could have been a great opportunity to try Solidworks, but as it happened I started drawing plane type shapes, which evolved into a 3D model of a Panel Plane. I used Autodesk Inventor in my past life as a Design Engineer, so I found Solidworks quite different, and somewhat frustrating to begin with, but as the model progressed I got used to it’s little foibles, however it just didn’t feel right compared to Inventor. One of the aspects of Solidworks I really liked though, was it’s rendering capability. This is the fruit of 3-4 hours of playing.
The rear tote needs further work, but that’s more down to my inability with Solidworks, than the software itself. We may see a little WIP of this plane in the coming months…
Thirdly, and this is where things get a little weird. As I was playing with the Solidworks model, I recieved an e-mail form Nick Gibbs, the editor of British Woodworking magazine, saying that he’d had someone build one of my kits and that it would be published in the next edition. Nick had come across my kit at a woodworking show, where someone had shown him a plane they’d built. I had completely forgotten that I’d sent Nick a kit some 18 months ago, and didn’t really expect much to come from it. I just hope that the article gives a positive impression of the kit…
So, in conclusion, I should have some Small Shoulder Plane kits available within the next fortnight to a month, I may have a go at building a panel plane, I will build a machinists chest, and most importantly, I think that I’ve found my MOJO!!
I’ve finally finished the Small Smoothing Plane, well, almost finished, the lever cap could do with some more finishing and the infills need a few coats of shellac.
Appologies for the photography, taking pics of shiny brass is very difficult. I’ve just bought a light tent, but haven’t yet got any decent lighting to go with it, so a couple of pics on the kitchen table will have to do for the time being.
I took the plane to the Axminster/Lie-Nielsen show over the weekend, and the feedback was positive. Most comments started with “Wow, it’s hefty!” followed by comments about how good it felt in the hand. It also performs pretty well!
The plane is 150mm (6″) long, with a 40mm (1 1/2″) wide, 6mm thick iron.
I’ll post some shavings soon.
I’ve done a little more work on the SSP over the last few days.
There’s a bit of work to do yet, but it looks like I may be able to get it ready for the show at Rycotewood next weekend. The priority jobs are to heat treat the iron and flatten the sole. Other jobs to finish the plane include tyding up the lever cap, shaping/sanding/finishing the infills, but if I run out of time, these can wait until after the show.
Being the most impatient man on the planet, I’ve already assembled the plane with a donor iron and lever cap, just to see if it would produce a shaving, and despite the iron being way too thin, resulting in a mouth opening of about 2mm, and not having flattened the sole yet, it performed pretty well, leaving a nice finish on Oak when going with the grain, but as would be expected, it tore out a little when going against the grain. The first shavings always give a great feeling of achievement, and I must say that i’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved so far, let’s hope i don’t screw it up as I approach the finish line.
It’s been a long time coming but I’m finally making good progress with building the pre-production Small Smoothing Plane (SSP). I always (well maybe “always” is a bit of an exaturation as I’ve only been down this path once before) try to build a kit from the actual parts that are intended for sale, just to make sure that they fit together as they should, I can then take plenty of pics to put in the assembly instructions – which I’m completely dreading to write.
Here are a few of the WIP shots to wet your appetite.
Filing the sole
Checking the fit, note the small gap present for peining the brass to lock the shell together. (excuse the milling marks, I got a little carried away with the milling machine when cleaning the rivets that hold the blade support block)
Here’s the profiled block used to support the shell during peining, the cutouts are there to accomodate the blade support block and cross pin.
The peined dovetails – yes they’re supposed to look like that The three layers of masking tape does a great job of protecting the brass sides from rogue hammer blows. The brass is drifted into the corners using a round nose punch to ensure that the dovetails fully fill the voids.
Here are the dovetails roughly cleaned up, furtter cleaning will follow once the plane is stuffed and the infills are riveted.
I’ve also roughed out the infills, but haven’t yet taken any photos, I’ll take some tomorrow and post further details tomorrow night.
Cheers for now.
Over the past few months, many of you have enquired about how much progress I’ve made with the Small Smoother kit. I must be honest that the progress has been quite slow, due to a few other projects that I’ve been working on.
I’m coming to the end of an Oak sideboard build that I’m making as a wedding gift for my mate and his wife. I was one of the best men at his wedding a year last june. Hey, better late than never.
The sideboard was built entirely using the Festool Domino, and it’s just Brilliant!! Due to my limited shop time, this project has taken me a couple of months, but I reckon that if I had worked solidly on it, it would have only taken me about two and a half days to get it to this point, including pre-finishing all the sub assemblies before the final glue up. Cutting all the joints literally took no more than a couple of hours tops.
I’ve also made a couple of small ceremonial chairs for Eisteddfodau. For those of you that arne’t aware of Eisteddfodau, they are a tradition that go back many centuries here in Wales. Eisteddfodau consist of singing, reciting, and literature competitions (mostly in the welsh language), and children from the age of around 3 to 103 compete in their chosen categories. The winner of the main literature competition traditionally wins a chair. I was asked recently to make 2 small chairs for local Eisteddfodau, and here’s what I came up with.
The chair is about 9″ high, but although it’s very small, it took a good few hours to make, there’s not a straight line on the whole chair. The wood is Beech, finished with Osmo Polyx oil, this oil is rapidly becoming my finish of choice, it looks good, is durable, and is easy to apply, what more can you ask of a finish? I’d love to make a full size version of this chair one day, not quite sure how I’d go about it though.
Having got these jobs out of the way, I can now concentrate on getting the Small Smoother kit back on the road.
A few people have by now, built their Shoulder Plane kits and have posted work in progress threads on the UKWorkshop forum. If you’d like to have a look at a couple of these WIP’s check out the link below.
The thread was started by Rod (Harbo) and Jim (Jimi43) has added his WIP to the same thread. Both have made a cracking job of their planes, I’m really proud of both of them. Well done guys!!
Hi, following a few requests on the UKWorkshop forum for a copy of the instructions of the Small shoulder plane, I’ve managed to produce a PDF version of that document.
If you’d like a copy of the instructions to have a look at, and to dispel the myth that infill planes are out of the comfort zone of most woodworkers, contact me with your e-mail address, and I’ll send you a copy.
P.S. I would offer the instructions as a direct download from this site, but I wouldn’t know where to start. I’ll get my techie mate onto it.
I’ve decided to drop the price of my Small Shoulder plane back to £65 inc Shipping to the UK. Worldwide shipping usually adds £10 to the cost, but contact me for an up to date cost. The cost was initially raised due to the increased cost of water jet cutting, but I’ve found a new (cheaper) supplier, so I can pass on the savings to you.
I also made some progress on the Small Smoother today, so it shouldn’t be too long before this kit is available also. I’ll post some pics towards the end of the wekend
Well, I’ve finally completed the plane.
July was absolutely frantic at school so I didn’t get much done, but August has been a bit quieter.
I decided to go for Ebonised Walnut for the infill in the end, for the simple reason that Walnut was the only dark, close grained timber that my local supplier had in stock. I’d never tried ebonising before, but it really is frighteningly simple, and I think that it turned out pretty well. The finish on the wood is a few coats of Danish oil followed by a little wax.
The vital statistics are:
Sole length – 215mm (8 1/2″)
Overall length – 235mm (9 1/4″)
Iron – 60mm (2 3/8″) wide by 6mm (1/4″) thick
Pitch – 50 deg
Mouth opening – about 3 or 4 thou (pretty dammed tight)
Mass – 2.8kg (6lb 4oz)
And just to prove that it works, here are a few shavings. I’m not sure whether these were taken with or against the grain, but to be honest, the plane didn’t grumble going either way.
Hi it’s been absolutely hectic since my last post. The end of term is always busy in school, but this year was especially so, with fitting in welding and turning courses, as well as the usual reports, trips etc.
The turning and welding coures I completed were excellent, I could do a little turning before attending the course, but still learnt a lot.
On the other hand, I was dreading the welding course, as my previous experiences with a welder had always proved very hit and miss, and extremely frustrating. Yes, there’s a “but” coming. But, by the end of the second day I was welding like a pro – swearing, telling dirty jokes etc. – and even did some vertical welding on the third day (stright runs and a christmas tree weave). By this time I had completed the required tasks for an NVQ2 qualification, but still attended the fourth and final day, so that I could get to grips with a TIG welder and do some Aluminum welding.
Welding Ali is very difficult, as by the time you get enough heat into the joint to weld, then wait another millisecond, and you have a puddle of Aluminium on the bench and a bloody big hole in your work. I was so impressed by the TIG welder though, that I’m pricing one up for the school workshop, yes they’re expensive, but it’ll definately add to the students experience, and when they get to the workplace, they’ll have another string to their bow.
Following the busy time at work, things have been virtually on hold on the hand plane front, but as it’s now the summer holidays, I (in theory) should have a little more time on my hands. I’ve managed to shape the tote on the large smoother today from enlish Walnut, and hope to get it ebonised either tomorrow or saturday. I’ll post pics of my ebonising experiments tomorrow, it really is astonishingly simple, just wipe on a solution of wire wool and vinegar, wait a few minutes, and hey presto, it turns a nice deep, rich brown colour. I’ll also post pics of the tote, pre-ebonising for you to have a look at.