As most of you probably know, I can't help but keep experimenting with planes. Different timbers, angles, materials - you name it, I'll try it. And while relaxing in a hot bath the other evening I had another idea! Infills.......
Now - I love making wooden planes, so you don't have to worry about me going off and building infills (although customers have been asking me for a reasonably priced infill). I have made a few prototype Norris style smoothers, but completely from wood, and they never look quite right due to the thickness of the side walls. There's a minimum thickness you can get away with in wood, and it didn't always look right. So I had this idea about a plane with brass side walls, an infill but no metal sole - the infill make the sole! So you have an infill with a slippery wooden sole........
I just happened to have some offcuts of brass suitable, and doing a bit here and there, I've reached the point where the plane is usable - what do you think?
The plane works very nicely, taking sub-thou shavings easily. I'm going to a woodworking bash at Waka's in Weymouth on the weekend and will taking it along with me for some feedback. And remember where you saw this plane first.......... ;)
A customer wanted a coffin smoother in Beech, but styled after my Classic Smoother. So who am I to disappoint :) I really like this plane - its a good size but still comfortable to grip. So I may well be making this my standard design inthe future - stay tuned.
Back to the bench - Fillisters await!
Monday, October 12, 2009
As I mentioned in the last blog entry, I was awaiting a delivery of foam floor tiles for the workshop. They turned up bright and early today - a pleasant surprise! I bought them from a trader on Ebay, and a very good prove they were too - four packs of four tiles, each two foot square, for £25. Enough to do the main areas of the workshop.
It only took five minutes to put them in place (after a quick sweep up of the sawdust). The tiles click together easily and, to complicate matters, are grey on one side, and bright red, blue, yellow or green on the reverse. I went with the boring grey, although may change my mind one day if I'm truly bored ;)
The tiles feel good underfoot - soft enough to take the pressure off, but tough enough for workshop life. I must say I wish I had bought some years ago. At the end of work today my legs felt fine - a result!
Now - about getting that coffee machine plumbed into the 'shop............ ;)
Here's another pretty plane - a Skew Miter in Macassar Ebony. I love the look of the dark timbers, they give a real sense of solidity. This particular plane is also a few inches longer than usual, at the customers request.
It's the first time I've used Ebony and I was surprised how easy it was to plane - I was expecting it to be "tear-out central". And it takes a lovely polish. Needless to say, I can see me using this wonderful timber again in the near future.
Something I've been toying with for a long time is the issue of my concrete floor. Standing at the bench all day, a concrete floor can take its toll on your legs. So I have just invested in foam floor tiles - they should arrive early this week. I'll let you know if they make a significant difference.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Following on from the title of the last blog entry, here's a few planes that have been finished in the workshop recently.First up, a Jointer. Made from Ovangkol, a very tough African hardwood, with a norris style adjuster and brass screw cap. The timber looks wonderful - a coat of oil makes the figure spring into 3D. I've just had an email from the new owner, who had this to say - "The jointer exceeds all expectations. I had to use it today on some pretty difficult Bubinga and it made short work of it. It is rare to have a tools which is beautiful, so well finished and which performs brilliantly!" I'm guessing he's happy with it ;)
Next up are a pair of panel raising planes - the customer supplied a drawing with the panel dimensions for me to work from. Both planes are from quartered
English beech, and it has some wonderful ray figuring. It reminds me of the scales of a fish, shimmering as you walk past it. It's funny how such a humble and plain timber like beech turns into a thing of beauty when cut on the quarter.
And finally, another jointer. Well actually, a Try plane. This one is going to a US customer who I recently made a 30 inch Jointer - this is a "baby" one to complement it. The rear tote on this plane is offset to the right, as was the traditional placement of 18th Century planes. It feels very natural in use and makes me wonder why the rear handle is now placed in the centre.
There's plenty of other interesting planes on the go, including an Ebony Skew Miter. Pics soon!
Friday, October 02, 2009
Had a visitor to the workshop this week who wanted to choose the timber for his plane. He also brought some very lovely goodies along with him for me to see. First up, a Stanley 444. This is a plane for cutting sliding dovetails, and cuts both male AND female parts of the joint.
I'd only seen this plane in Garrett Hack's book, so was surprised to see how big it is in the flesh. This particular plane was complete, with both fences and accessories. It had been re-plated, and looked absolutely immaculate. Jealous? Who, me?
The second goodie was a smoother - a Philip Marcou.
I was rather shocked at the weight of this plane (which I believe is the S15) I have a bronze Lie-Nielsen 4 1/2 which I think is at the limit of how heavy a plane should be - the Marcou is heavier again! It is very nicely made and, as it is bevel up, features an adjustable mouth. One thing I noticed - it was smothered in lanolin. The reason for this was to protect the brass and bronze from oxidising. This seemed to be working as the plane was like new, so this is an area I would like to experiment with.
Over at the bench the panel raising planes are almost complete. I've just applied the oil to them so tomorrow will give them a test run and they'll be ready to ship. I've also completed the Jointer with the norris adjuster - it looks awesome. Ovangkol is a beautiful timber with wonderful chatoyance. I'll get the camera out tomorrow for a photo shoot.
Finally, I'm sad to be missing the Woodworking In America conference. Mike Wenzloff was kind enough to offer me space at his bench, but with my recent show schedule, as well as making planes, it just wasn't possible to make it. Philly Planes in Philly seemed a match made in heaven ;) So my thoughts are of all the lucky woodworkers who are able to attend - have a blast!