Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Plane Repairs

I have several wooden planes that I've been wanted to close the mouths up a bit on, so with sore ribs preventing me from doing anything very physical, it seemed like a good time to get to work on a couple of these.

(The ribs were initially diagnosed as bruised, but that was upgraded to 'cracked' after my second visit to the doctor. I lost an edge playing hockey and slid into the boards hard.)

Anyways, first up was a cocobolo Krenov style plane with a 1 1/4" blade that I wanted to put a cocobolo insert in, which I did by routing out the bottom in front of the mouth.

When it came to flatten the bottom, I decided to try something a bit different. I had taken a course on metal scraping in Seattle a couple of years ago from  a guy named Forrest Addy. Hand scraping a metal surface will yield a surface flatter than can be achieved by machining or by abrasion/sanding. I had had great success in scraping an old Stanley plane at that time, and thought I would see how the process would work on a wood plane.

 Scraping pattern on bottom of Stanley plane

I modified the procedure only slightly for wood, by using my very thin hand scraper (from Lee Valley I believe). With a granite reference surface, a tube of Prussian Blue oil paint, and a Brayer roller, I was off to the races.

I started scraping immediately after I had passed the bottom of the plane over the jointer, and as a result half the work was to get past the jointer ripples. Note to self: Next time sand off the ripples after jointing!

The process was to roll the dye out on the granite, put the plane down on top of the granite surface (which will mark the high spots with the dye), and then scrape, using the smallest strokes possible ( 1/16"?), all the dye spots off the bottom. Then repeat, until you get a consistent pattern of dye marks across the entire bottom. It took me about ten passes to get to where I wanted it to be.

After a couple scrapings

Getting near the end, fairly even pattern just not dense enough yet.

After the bottom was flat, I very carefully worked the mouth with small files until I achieved a tiny opening. This was rather tedious, but the plane yields full length full width shavings consistently now. I'd judge the procedure a success!

Next was an old beech coffin smoothing plane that I picked up a few years ago. It has good 'bones' and a great heavy old laminated 2" blade on it. I had glued a new sole of quartersawn locust to it some time ago, now was the time to finish the job.

I chose locust for the sole since it is the hardest wood available locally. In retrospect it was not the best choice as it is quite brittle and filing the mouth was too delicate as a result.

This one really taxed my plane tuning skills. The blade angle had become far too steep over the years, so I had to regrind and resharpen. The laminated steel was extremely tough going. The chipbreaker was warped and not closing tightly. The wedge was not holding the blade in evenly. And the new sole was not flat so I tried to flatten it with the same scraping procedure, but unfortunately the blue dye got into the pores of the locust and made lit hard to figure out where to scrape. After an awful lot more fooling around than I had wanted/hoped/expected, I started getting full length full width shavings .0005" thick.

 Time to put these bad boys to work!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

More More Milling

It seems like what little time I have had recently for "woodworking stuff" has been dedicated to milling. Unfortunately my pile is now completely full, I have wood leaning against the garage and no place to stack it, and now I have injured myself playing hockey!

After picking up the yellow cedar a couple weeks ago, I went back to get some more of it, only to discover that a bunch of deodar logs had arrived. So I spent a morning milling up deodar. I have milled up deodar before, I love the smell.

Unfortunately, this log had a lot of knots in it, not nearly as much clear wood as I had hoped for, although still enough to make it worthwhile. I wound up with 9 slabs, and even left a couple of the worst ones on the beach, first time I had ever done that!

Started to have some mill problems as well, the mill seemed to be diving into the log at the start of the cut, making it super hard to push for the first six inches or so. Diagnosed some lose nuts on the mill, hopefully that will take care of it!

The week after that I went back to get some more of the yellow cedar. Unfortunately it started to rain pretty hard so I decided to save it for another day. Not before I noticed a couple more promising pieces of deodar though.

Then I planned to go back and get the deodar and the yellow cedar, except I hurt myself playing hockey and it looks like the milling is done for a while now. That's what happens when 50 year old guys play hockey I guess. At least as soon as I can plane without pain I can get back to the shop!