Making a Woodie

by "Mignal"

This article first appeared as a thread on theWoodnet Forum. It was compiled and reproduced here for easier public consumption. All Text and Images are the property of "Mignal."

A photo documentary of a small wooden smoothing plane with brief descriptions. This particular planes purpose is to deal with difficult grain that is prone to tear-out, hence the bedding angle of 60 degrees. Measuring just 7 inches in length it is based around one of the Chinese HSS blades at 1 3/4 inch width. Flipping the blade turns it into a useful scraper plane?, also very effective at dealing with tear-out. I'm using Bubinga off cuts from 2 X 2 woodturning blanks and employing the laminated or Krenov style construction. Wider timber would have allowed me to grain match resulting in an almost seamless re-assembly of the main body. No matter. Here's the initial blank squared up, the width slightly wider than the blade to allow lateral movement:

The two sides and the small triangular pieces that form the abutments, these would normally be taken from the shaded or waste area of the main body. Much of the construction method of this plane relies on the very accurate making and accurate placement of these two triangular segments, they really do simplify the glue up procedure.

One of the abutments accurately placed and glued to one of the sides:

Shaping the abutment prior to assembling the sides to the body:

Cutting the bedding angle:

The bed needs to be flat and square, think precision engineering. . .

Extremely sharp low angle block plane, spritz the end grain with water if needed:

One side glued on. The abutment forms a stop for the front block of the main body. The temporary (i.e. waxed) wedge shaped piece ensures the correct position of the rear block whilst gluing and allows for both blade thickness and the final dimensions of the plane wedge. Vertical positioning of the two body sections also needs to be fairly accurate. Both the sole and top will be planed square and true:

The main body complete. This plane will have an adjustable mouth hence the recess and drilled hole.

The 10mm thick Rosewood sole of this plane will incorporate an adjustable mouth. What follows is the method I use. The sole blank is oversized, the shaded section is to be removed and will form the adjustable mouth. This section needs to be slightly wider than the blade width after it has been cut out and trimmed.

The arrow and edge markings indicate the grain run-out of this particular sole, similar to the nap on the cloth of a pool table. It's preferable to have the plane working 'with the nap' rather than against it.

The sole cut into 'bits', well it's one method. Those two 'arms' of the sole will have to be worked so that they are straight and true, otherwise our adjustable mouth may not be. . . so adjustable. Probably the hardest part of the whole plane making process. Perhaps I should have made these from strips as well.

The sections of the sole will now have to be rejoined making sure that the 'arms' run parallel and with the space between the two arms slightly greater than our blade width. The end piece is simply trimmed to a snug fit. Our mouth is left oversized until we come to fit the blade. The recess on the underside of the plane body is there for a reason. . . .

Mouth. Simple but effective, nut, bolt, washer. The hole going through the plane body is at 10 mm, the diameter of the bolt is 6 mm - should give at least 2 mm (4 mm max) forward adjustment of the mouth to allow for wear in the sole.

The sole and mouth complete. Finger grip marked.

Fancy bits. Excess at the front and rear of the planes body is removed, I trimmed it to end up with 7 inches total length. I reduced the height of the plane (from the top!), it is in fact slightly lower in height at the front than it is at the back - that's just to avoid too many straight lines and is purely aesthetic. On go the chamfers and the rear Rosewood 'pad' . The 'fingergrip' is let in with a couple of gouges, one of which has a fairly flat sweep. Couple of coats of thin Shellac followed by Wax.

Wedge. Has to be a good fit, flat all the way down where it seats against the blade, it must be a 'majority fit' with both abutments for the entire length. Majority fit means 90% or better :-)

Rather hastily sharpened blade and a quick trial run. I'm very familiar with this Bubinga that I'm trying it out on. I don't own a plane that will deal with this stuff without getting some tearout, no matter how well set up the plane is or how sharp the blade is. Pleasant surprise: it really is planning without tearout (honest) even with a blade that isn't quite as sharp as it should be. The surface is a little rougher than a 45 or 50 degree angle but I guess that is to be expected.

The plane feels fantastic in the hand - way ahead of any metal plane I've tried.



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