Galootapalooza IX - July 31, 2004

by Cian Perez

Well, I arrived there at about 10:30am at Galootapalooza IX in beautiful Hampshire, Illinois.

Quite honestly, I drove by the farm a couple of times because I didn't see anybody milling about.

So I pulled into a location that had to be "the first farm on your right" as indicated by the directions that were emailed to me.

I eventually did see a row of parked cars so I figured this was the place. I parked the truck and meandered about. Nobody came out to greet me or anything so I was still wondering if I actually found the right farm.

Then I saw a guy step out from a sliding barn door and ran an object atop of a belt sander and then disappeared back back into the barn. Odd.

So I walked up to the barn/garage and man oh man was there a frenzy of activity...

Everybody was hammering away.

The piercing clang of hammers on metal dominated the atmosphere and there really wasn't a lot of talking going on.

This must be the Shepherd Plane class which I was too late to sign up for.


Sorry for the blurry pic. I was trying to minimize the flash usage so as to not disturb anybody while they concentrated on their work, especially knowing the investment involved. One bad move with a ball-peen hammer and you could scar one of these beauties for life!

Immediately by the front barn door there was a folding table laid out with the various Shepherd Plane kits.

Brass and steel body plates in various designs.

Hardened steel blades in multiple configurations and sizes..

3/8" thick sole plates.

Round metal stock for the body cross pins.

And, of course, lots of cocobola for the infills, but I did see what I thought was a 1/2" shoulder plane with ebony infill.

At one end of the Table of Lust were three finished planes - two Norris smoothers as well as a massive panel plane.

The panel plane (the one on the right facing us) appeared to have the same dimensions as a Bailey No. 6. There's A LOT of wood making up the infill of that baby!

At the bottom of this pic you can see a completed 1-1/4" (or thereabouts) shoulder plane with the upgraded brass side plates.

So everybody was hammering and filing and hammering away.

I walked around the place and met a few chaps.

The gent on your right in this pic is the only guy that was making the behemoth panel plane. You can see the very large sole plate waiting to be addressed on the table in front of him.

Most everybody else was making shoulder and chariot planes, but I do recall at least one smoother being made, complete with the Norris adjuster.

Apparently, this was the primary event for the day. Everybody who was in the class had prepaid and each person had brought their own arsenal of tools - files, hammers, gauges, vises, clamps, and more files.

I couldn't help but walk around the barn with a stupidly silly bewildered grin. You gotta understand that I've only been enamored with hand tools for less than a year, so this was about nearly all I can take.

I eventually encountered 'Ben' and 'Doug' of Shepherd Tools. Ben greeted me with, "Oh look a latecomer."

"Hello. I'm Cian. This is pretty cool..." I couldn't keep my head on straight from all the neural impulses happening around me. I must've looked like one of those bobble-head toys you see so much in the rear window of people's cars.


Which brings me to the event that would majorly change the course of the rest of the day for me.

"Well do you want to make a plane?"

My heart instantly catapulted to Mach 3!. "Uhh, umm, uhhh, gee, really?"

"Why sure. Come on with me." He leads me back to the Table of Lust. "I think all the smoothers are taken, but you can make a shoulder or a chariot plane. The shoulder plane comes in various widths. This finished one here is a lil' over one inch wide, but I don't think we have any more of those in brass, but you can make one in steel if you'd like?"

The shoulder plane was pretty large, in my opinion - larger than the Veritas Medium Shoulder I had at home - and probably more than I can handle given I was still trying to emotionally capture what was playing out before me. My heart's racing 10 miles a minute, so I manage to blurt out, "Uhh, what's a 'chariot'?"

"A chariot plane is this lil' guy." Ben holds up one of the side plates of what appears to be a smallish block plane. "You can make one of these with the upgraded brass sidewalls if you'd like."

My mentally housed Cray computer kicks in its reserve dormant processors and starts calculating math and logic - Hmm, another block plane? My wife's gonna kill me. Do I really need another one of those? But this is a Shepherd Plane! How many times in your life will you get an opportunity like this? My wife's gonna kill me. Well I did want to pick up an apron plane at some point, and this is about the same size. But this thing costs as much as a Lie-Nielsen! But this is a Shepherd Plane! Do I have my wallet? My wife's gonna kill me. Man is that nice lookin'. But I was only gonna stay for an hour or two...

Ben continues, "And of course, you get a discount for being here today."

SOLD! "I'll build the chariot!" My wife's gonna kill me.


We do have a slight problem though.

Everybody who's in the class (and has a 2 hour head start by this time) has known for weeks if not months in advance of their activities for the day and they each have brought (and in multiple cases - specially procured) the appropriate tools.

So everybody's brought their own overstuffed tool-bag full of ball-peen hammers in multiple weights, numerous files in various sizes and grades along with spares, gauges, and more files. And what did I bring? A digital camera. Oh yeah, and I also brought a silly grin.

Fortunately, Ben and Doug have brought a case of tools for stragglers like me.

Well, here you see the chariot kit laid out. We've got a steel sole plate, two brass side plates, the cocobola infill, four steel pins, 0.14" thick blade (that's Lie-Nielsen territory) , and the form in which I'll hammer the living daylights out of the plane once it's loosely assembled.

Starting to clean up the machining with the needle files that Ben lent me.

Ahhh, so that's what she's gonna look like.

Cute lil' bugger.

This is starting to look promising.

This is Doug from Shepherd Tools inspecting my work-in-progress.

I can easily surmise that Doug is normally a very calm and placid fellow, because this is what Doug looks like when he's completely outraged and disappointed.

Internally he's screaming, "This guy beat the living #@&! out of this poor little plane!!!"

In the background you can see one of the tents of the attendees who'll be camping out on the farm overnight.

Well here she is before the peening process.

I was able to begin hammering the dovetails and pins into place but not without some drama and setbacks.

Unfortunately, due to my other obligations for the day, I had to leave at about 4:30pm. (Four hours later than I expected to leave.)

I'd like to finish her up within the next week and post more pics...


Other event notables:

I'm definitely looking forward to next year. I'll have to save up for possibly a shoulder plane if not a Norris smoother for the next time around.

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©2004 Cian Perez /