Sunday, March 1, 2015

Iron faced Planes

Three Iron faced planes which I have made over the past couple
years. One of walnut, which is a panel scraper plane, one of
cherry and one of beach. Each one was made for a specific
project which I was working on at the time I made the planes.
In the background are a couple of my holly rolling pins waiting
for their ends to be carved.
I primarily work with wood, but can be rather handy with metal as well. It is a very different medium to work, but extremely satisfying. As with my furniture, I primarily use hand tools for working metal, too. I do have an electric grinder which is used the way an old hand cranked one would have traditionally been used (anyone have one they would like to donate?) to shape the blades.

This week's posting is to show a type of moulding plane which I have developed from the inspiration of several antique planes and their methods of construction.

There has been a lot written on the web regarding the history of planes, and though I have a few ideas in my head on that topic, at present I have nothing to add to the matter. There is a great deal of good information and some surprising finds at St Thomas Guild.

My planes took their looks from a combination of Continental and English models, their method of construction from some medieval and later planes, and the idea of metal and wood from the 19th century "infill planes" such as this one.

Unmarked mid 19th century English, Rosewood infill plane.
The wedge was missing and I made a replacement from
mahogany about 16 years ago.; the plane works beautifully.
To make my planes I begin with a plate of iron about 300mm long and 75mm wide.

The blank, ready to begin
The first step is to joint the edge square, as they come rather rounded from the mill where I buy them.

The remainder of the steps will be explained in the captions of each picture.

The lower inside edge is chamfered to create the proper 'spring' 
to the plane when it is finished. This is the angle at which it
will be held whilst making the mouldings.

The plate is cut to length. (not sure why this did not happen first)

Using a coarse rasp, the heel is chamfered and rounded.

These two pictures are backwards, but the same
rasp was used to chamfer the top edge and
the toe; In all this took about 1 hour.

Using my trusty early model Stanley #55 to begin shaping the
wooden body for the plane. This will be the negative of the
shape which the plane will produce.

Using a tenon saw, the slot for the wedge is cut. 

The waste is removed with a chisel; a bevel square makes a
great depth gauge to check the work.

The inside face of the plane will have the Continental form;
I like this design because the channel serves as a bit of a handle.

The wood and metal parts will be joined with rivets. I got this idea
from some metal parts riveted to an early 19th century plough
plane which I own. The first step is to mark out the holes with
a punch.

I tried to find some rivets, but have no idea where one would buy
them, so, as usual, I got creative and decided to make some
myself; in the right hands a nail works great for the purpose.

A few minutes with a good file and the nail-head becomes a

Back to my plate; I drilled and countersunk the previously marked holes.

The two 'halves' were clamped together on a backing block and
the holes were drilled into the wooden body.

This next stage needs more space to explain. All the nails, cum rivets, were inserted from the back and then a metal plate was cramped (Notice they are heavy duty cramps too!) to the plane. In order to make the rivets, the nails must be clipped off with a pliers and then the stub ends are peened over with a hammer to fill up the tapered hole made with the drill.Notice my knee holding the block of wood which supports the plane; the table would not have stood up to all the hammering.

Once all the rivets were peened over, it was time to file off the
access material and flatten the face of the plane. An old auto-
body panel file called a float was used to dress the face down
quickly. This tool works almost like a plane, shaving away until
the piece is flat.

The next step was to address the blade. It was not anything close
to flat, so a lot of heavy sanding was in order. The blade is already
tempered and therefore could not be filed.
Several years ago, whilst operating my Philippine venture, I encountered a couple of fairly good local blacksmiths. These chaps were pretty handy functioning with very simple and rustic working conditions. It amazes me that both in the old days and in less "advanced" civilizations, people seem to be able to do more with less! They had a small fire using locally made charcoal, (not the stuff you use for your barbecue) and a small hand cranked blower which the helper boy turned to get the forge hot enough; their metal, for making tools, came from old lorrie leaf springs. They did have an electric grinder and various thicknesses of wheels to shape the tools. Their primary business was making carving tools and chisels, though they did make some straight plane irons as well. No one in the Philippines seems to have ever seen or used a moulding plane, they either use a router, or they carve it all by hand. The idea of a plane that made moulding was quite a novelty to them; the smith had a hard time grasping the idea of the blades as well. His results, even though I gave him a sample to follow, was to make one that would have been well suited for a giant's plane; they were way too long in both directions.

To get the length right, I used an angle grinder and scored it
to the approximate length needed.

A shifting spanner and the vice made the second half go a lot
faster than the first half of the cutting process.

A little rotary grinder made good work of cutting the profile.

Re-sawing a piece to make the wedge.

A bit of linseed oil and, hey, we have a finished plane...and
it works!

The face of the plane and the profile it cuts.
The inspiration for the wedge came from an illustration in one of Roubo's plates from his L'Art du Menuisier . In his version, the 'beak' sticks off to the side, but it seemed to me like a great idea if used in conjunction with a curved shaped piece to prise it out. It works much better than hammering on the plane, or a block of wood, or clamping the wedge in the vice, or any other number of ways people have come up with to knock the wedge loose.
Not a very good picture, but this was
the source of my inspiration.
So far I have made three of these planes, and I really enjoy doing so; they also work great. The metal face gives them a nice heft, and they go through just about anything without trouble. I used this latest plane to do the outside corners of some maple table legs; the little tear-out there was took only light sanding with 220 grit to remove.

This is the official end of this post, but as a bonus, here is a picture of an hanging cabinet which is trying to get finished. The carving is 17th century English style; the wood is elm.
A bit of carving and some veneer work I got done last week.

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