Friday, December 30, 2011

How Was Your Christmas?

     I sincerely hope that those of you that read my blogs that your Christmas was a wonderful occasion that you were able to spend with family and friends as we celebrate the birth of Christ.  Sometimes it's hard to keep sight of that as we open our presents to see what "Santa Claus" has brought us and I hope he too, was good to you.  Two years ago, I asked for and received the small spokeshave kit from Lee Valley.  Breanna got that for me and it was a good challenge to make it and I use that tool often.  This year I asked for a scrub plane blade from Hock Tools.  In case you're not familiar with what the heck a scrub plane is here's Wikipedia's definition:

The scrub plane is a type of plane used to remove large amounts of wood from the surface of lumber, such as when eliminating cup or twist in the first stages of preparing rough stock, or when reducing the thickness of a board significantly. Scrub planes generally have a short soles, a relatively narrow but thick blade, a very wide mouth, and a deeply curved edge (of about a 3 inch radius) to make a deep, gouging cut.

     For woodworkers that use lots of power tools, the power jointer has pretty much eliminated any use for this style of plane but since I don't use or have a jointer I can see the need for it.  After doing my internet research I decided to attempt to make my first plane.  It will be based on the Krenov style but modified/customized to suit what I think I need.  There were a few references on the construction of this plane and the fact that the traditional style plane patterned after James Krenov didn't necessarily lend itself to becoming a scrub plane.   The reason cited was the lack of a handle or tote which made it difficult to get enough power behind the tool.  Well, I found a design on a forum where there was more of a saw type of handle that I decided to use for my "plane to be".
     Here's the parts:

Starting Point
       What you're looking at is the two pieces of Walnut that will make up the plane.  I drilled a few 1 3/16" holes to begin to form the handle.  You can see the rough outline of the shape, very similar to a saw handle.  The dowel will be used to wedge the blade into the plane itself and it's pretty obvious that the blade has a radius, just like Wikipedia's definition.  This blade comes from Ron Hock who is well known for the quality of his blades, I gave you the link for his business in the opening paragraph. The long, yellowish piece of wood is Canarywood left over from my dining table and it will be used for the sides.  Last of all is the Purple Heart which will be laminated to the bottom for the sole.
Roughed out Handle
    Making the handle was interesting.  First of all, the ramp that the blade rests on is cut at 45 degrees.  Since there is a fairly large screw head that holds the blade and chip breaker together I needed to route a groove for that to fit in to.  I needed to bring it down a bit more than this to accommodate the thickness of the sole but that was fairly easy to to with a chisel.

     The width of this piece is 1 9/16" and when I gripped it, it's way too thick to be comfortable.  That's when things on the bandsaw became interesting!

Looking Like a Plane ??
     As you can see, I made the handle much thinner and that was a challenge.  There's a well known furniture maker, Sam Maloof, who had a very, unorthodox (unsafe?) method of using the bandsaw.  I've seen it in videos and he has most of the blade exposed and he makes these free hand cuts to form the arms, back slats, and other parts for his chairs.  I figured that if he could do it I'd give it a shot as well and it worked!  The next step is to laminate the Canarywood sides onto the rest of the plane, they will be pinned with Ebony dowels.  There's a slight quandary in that I don't want to spend tons of time yet with spokeshaves and files to shape the plane until I know it will function as it should.  In any case, I'm enjoying the process and that's really what it's all about.  The front of the plane will resemble an infill plane with the somewhat bulbous grip but I'm hoping for a lot of control. The primary function of this plane will be to level and smooth one side of any board that happens to be cupped or warped.  Once I have one side leveled the surface planer can be used to bring the board to a uniform thickness.


  1. John,
    At the last SCWW meeting I was told that if I clicked on the article in my reader it would take me here so I could comment. That appears to work.
    My Christmas was great, got a small Jet Wood Lathe. Unlike you It will be awhile before I get to really use it.
    The real purpose of my post is the thank you for posting. Great article and I hope youll bring it to the meeting when its finished so we can see it.

  2. Thanks Bill, I'm in somewhat of a quandry because I want to refine the shape but don't want to spend a lot of time in case it doesn't work! Glued together yesterday so will work on the sole and mouth today. The way I'm looking at it though is that even if it doesn't work I still have the blade!
    Happy New Year to you and yours.