Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wine Cupboards are Complete

     After completing all of those little details that need to be done, the wine cupboards are both complete.  Here is one of them hung in the family room:

Closed View
     It's on an angled wall and  since it's only 6 1/2" deep fits the space just right.  Matter of fact, there is now a request for a narrow table with some type of stone top to sit below it so the wine can be poured right there!
     Here's what it looks when it is open, room for three bottles and four glasses:

Open View
     The African Mahogany, although it gave me some problems, really looks nice on the wall.  As I recall the name of the color we painted the wall was Peanut Butter.  The cupboard is attached with a French Cleat so there is no visible hardware or screws on the interior.  There is ample room to put a wine cork of some type or another on the shelf above the glasses.

Latch Detail
     I really like the hardware chosen for this project.  Here's a close up of it, pretty obvious why it's called a Rat Tail Latch.  This was a fairly common design used for shutters.  The over-all feeling I wanted to achieve with the Wine Cupboard is one of a classical, well constructed piece.  In keeping with what is often called "old world craftsmanship" the top molding was formed with a hand beader.  The bottom of the case consists of hand cut dovetails which is a very traditional method of casework when you use solid wood.  To my eye, using the Radio Weave pattern of woven caning enriches the over-all appearance of the cupboard.  When the light shines through this you can see the slightest reflection of the glasses inside.


 In keeping with the old ways of doing these things, the finish is clear shellac, about 5-6 coats.  Once it was cured it was rubbed out with paste wax, thinned with Turpenoid.  Turpenoid is something my wife used when painting in closed areas and is an odorless turpentine.  This is the first time I've used this product and according to the manufacturer it has all of the properties of turpentine without the odor -- which I actually like!  However; I didn't want to use anything that may ruin the taste of the wine.

Last of all though, if you've followed along with the making of this project you know I've had my fair share of difficulties with the African Mahogany.  I said I was going to conquer it's reversed grain and other difficulties and I thought I had until it got me one last time!  When I was smoothing it out I ran my hand over it to see how things were going, that's when it stuck me with a pretty good sliver.  No big deal, or so I thought, until it broke off as I pulled at it with a pair of tweezers.  If you work with wood you know that if you just let it alone for a few days it'll fester a bit and you can pop it right out of there.  Tried that and got a little bit more out but that wood was determined to get the last word.  After watching the lump grow and get more painful I finally gave in and went to Quick Care today.  Two hours later and lots of cutting and probing the doctor got the last 1/4" long piece out of my finger, the only good outcome was that the doctor let me keep the tweezers!

Ouch !!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Adjustable Throat, Big Mouth, and other Plane Talk

Tight Mouth, Small Throat = Fine Shavings

     During the scrub plane demonstration I did at our last Sin City Woodworkers Meeting I mentioned that the scrub plane has a very large mouth or throat opening.  The is to allow the thick shavings to pass through the plane.  You can see a short video of the scrub plane in action if you click on the SCWW link.  You may remember that on the initial cuts with the scrub plane it had a "clogged throat" and there was a picture there to illustrate on a previous blog.  The plane above is a Lie-Nielsen Bronze # 4 1/2 smooth plane.  It features a very small mouth and the throat opening can be adjusted as shown here:

Frog Adjustment

     The beauty of this set up is that the frog can be moved forwards and backwards without having to remove the blade. The screwdriver is pointing to a locking screw, there's another one on the other side.  After you loosen them the frog can be adjusted with the large screw in the center.  Why do this?  The smaller the opening (mouth) on the bottom of the plane is the, more support and pressure there is on the board.  Since the plane is pushing down on the surface around the cut, there is less tendency for the grain of the wood to pull up and tear.  You can see by the shavings that came through the throat, these are some pretty fine shavings from that piece of African Mahogany I've been working with.
     This adjustable mouth is a nice feature to have on your plane.  With the smooth plane it's the frog that's being moved back and forth to adjust the mouth opening.  On block planes the section of the sole in front of the blade can be moved with an eccentric lever to change the mouth opening.  There was a little confusion during my demonstration about which is the mouth and which is the throat.  I thought it was pretty clear in my own mind until we started talking about it!  I remember it this way; the mouth is the opening while looking at the bottom of the plane and the throat is where the shaving travels through.  It's not a major point but just keep in mind that the small mouth will only allow thin shavings through the throat.  By contrast, a large mouth will allow huge shavings through the throat.
     Here's a comparison between the smooth plane and the scrub plane:

Mouth Comparisons
     The mouth of the scrub plane is so large you can see completely through it, that plane can take off a lot of wood in a hurry!  The function of the smooth plane is to smooth out that final surface of the board after  the scrub and jointer planes have done their work.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Radio Weave Tutorial -- Wine Cupboard Doors

Doors Caned & Drying
     You know that you can only say: "I've never done that before" one time?  It's my goal to be able to say that about all kinds of things -- my so-called bucket list keeps on growing!  This is my first attempt at laying woven cane into the back of a door.  I've used spline to attach woven cane into chairs and shelves but this project needed a clean appearance without the clutter of a spline.  So far, so good; let me take you through the process.  In the back of each door there is a 3/8" x 5/16" rabbet.  The rabbet is to lay the radio weave in and then a strip of wood is pinned on top of it.

Bench Hook, Miter Side

    Since I ran out of Mahogany I made the strips from Smoked Poplar, figure that will add a bit to the inside of the doors.  To cut these small pieces to size, a bench hook was my choice.  Bench hooks are something I think should be in every woodworkers shop.  Very safe and easy way to cut small pieces to size.  Granted, this one is "over-kill" with dovetails but I wanted the practice!

Ready to Start
     To protect my bench I clamped a plastic bag to it.  A 23 gauge pin was ideal for attaching the strips and Liquid Hide glue was the glue chosen for this job.  This type of glue can be removed with a vinegar solution should the cane ever need to be replaced.  The first step is to soak the cane for about 5 minutes.  I was surprised to learn that this cane is actually made of paper!

Anchor one End

     After soaking, remove the cane and shake off the excess water.  Now center the cane and then crease it into the rabbet on one end.  It's easiest to pull out some of the excess strands that run parallel to the rabbet.  Once that's done, run a bead of glue in the corner, hold the pre-cut strip in position and pin it into place.


Opposite End and First Side

After following the same procedure and pulling it tight, the opposite end is secured.  I did the best I could to line up the strands with the door's edge but not perfect.  Actually I feel it looks better -- more of that hand crafted look and it's really not that obvious.  I really like the look of this product, I get all of my caning supplies from Franks Cane and Rush Supply in Huntington Beach.

Opposite Side Secured

     After the first side was secured I found it easiest to flip the door around so that the side was closest to me.  This made it easier to put pressure against the strip as I nailed/pinned it in place.  Notice that all of the long strands of the radio weave that run parallel to the edge are removed.  This makes it easier to crease into the rabbet.  All that remains is to let them dry for a good 24 hours and then trim those ends with a utility knife.  I put them in the house so they will dry quicker.


     The remainder of the shop time was spent making the French cleats that will be used to hang the cupboard.  The upper portion of the doors needed a door stop so that was designed and glued on as well.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Making Progress

     After a few more battles with the African Mahogany I just had to put things together to remind myself that yes; I am making progress!  Todays battle was with the crown molding I made.  Really something that in a piece 1/2" thick and less than 24" long it can develop such a warp.  I needed to remake a piece of it but once I secured it down with screws and glue I'm sure it won't go anywhere.  It was very difficult to measure and cut accurately when it would either bow up in the middle or the ends -- crazy stuff.  Also squared the corners of the inset area where the caning will go.  Anyway, here's something material to look at:

This is a three quarter view showing how the bottles will be supported inside.  Obviously, the doors are not attached.

There will be space for four glasses below.

Although somewhat dark, this shows the color of the Mahogany better.  Not quite as washed out as it is in the other picture which I took on the kitchen island.  The inside of the cupboard has been shellacked about 4 times. That's a pretty accurate photo of the completed finish.

Since I'd never worked with a paper based cane I wanted to experiment.  I made up a sample door out of some Poplar and experimented with it.  I like the look of it, has a more contemporary look than the traditional woven, reed caning.  This is called Radio Weave.

If all goes well tomorrow I may be ready to do the actual doors.  Need to hang and adjust them first so I'm looking forward to a productive afternoon after Church.

Friday, January 20, 2012

African Mahogany vs. John -- I will Prevail

     I hate to make concessions when it comes to the quality of my work, I suppose that's part of my perfectionist and rigid personality.  This African Mahogany is really testing those traits.  I'm not sure if it's just this particular board or what but today continued with its' share of problems.  First of all though, the initial part of the crown is now installed to both cases.  This was created using the bronze beading tool and I shared some of the problems with that in my last blog.  When you're a one man shop you need to improvise on your procedures if a third hand isn't available.  That occurred as I started to attach the crown.

Third Hand for Crown

To properly fit the crown you really need to hold the front and both sides at the same time and then measure and mark them too!  Kind of tricky so what I did was to make a elongated cut with the biscuit joiner into the cupboard top.  I wanted to have some free play so I could clamp it loosely while setting one end piece exactly where it belonged.  This was then marked and cut and the process was repeated for the other side.  Once everything was the correct size, the front was clamped tight and the sides were glued and held in place with a 23 gauge pin.  Now I could concentrate on gluing and clamping the front piece.  Once that was secure I used another clamp to hold the sides together.  The only hassles here is that one of the pieces I beaded yesterday decided it wanted to warp a bit more than I thought it should so it was remade.
     The next step was to prepare the doors for the Radio Weave caning I plan to use.  This requires a 3/8" x 3/8" rabbet cut into the back side of each door.  Easy enough with the proper router bit mounted in the table and off we go.  I didn't want to risk any damage so made the cut in 1/16+" increments.  Things were going okay until the 3rd. pass on one of the doors -- the side of the door ripped off!!  All of a sudden, this is what I was looking at:

Inside of Door Frame
     Now what to do!  I could hear myself telling my students that: "the difference between a good woodworker and a bad one is that the good one has learned how to hide his or her mistakes".  Now I needed to practice what I've been telling them for all these years.

Back Side of Door Frame

     My decision was to continue cutting to the required depth on all doors but leaving the damaged section alone.  The damaged door was brought into the house where it's warmer to repair.  By using a thin piece of wood as an applicator and carefully spreading the ripped piece apart I was able to put glue into it.  Then it was  tightly wrapped with tape, kind of a band aid for wood:

Lumber Band Aid


   I'll allow this to dry over-night and then use chisels and a small router plane to complete this rabbet.  As you can see the router will cut round corners, these need to be squared off with chisels as well.  I'm definitely keeping my fingers crossed that I won't have any more battles with the African Mahogany!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

African Mahogany not my Favorite!

    You know, life is a learning experience and the longer you live the more you experience!  Some good, some not so good, but if you learn from them it's all good.  I've worked African Mahogany before and used it for the panels of a pistol case -- no problems although I recall that the grain did reverse in places which made it tough to plane.  Maybe the wood was more stable because I used it as a fairly large panel.  I took the last wide piece that was remaining and started to bead the details for the top, crown molding:

Crown Profile

My thought was that keeping the board wide and then ripping the piece off was a good plan.  Well, the first problem was that as I got towards the middle of the board, the beading tool started to chatter.

     That problem was overcome by clamping the board midway and working a section of it until the profile was complete, moving the clamp and continuing that process until the board was completely beaded.
     Once the first piece was complete, I ripped it to 1 1/2" on the tablesaw and repeated the process for the second cabinet.  Felt pretty good about that until I took that piece to the tablesaw.  That piece curled up like the letter C in two directions -- completely unusable!  The only option then was to rip a piece to the correct size first to make sure it was stable.  This one was so it was beaded and ready to install.  I'm going to let both of them "rest" for a while to make sure they are stabilized.

     All I can say is that this wood is beautiful but ...... unstable with a lot of internal pressure built up that makes it move as you start cutting the boards to size.  It could just be that this particular tree had lots of stress built into it from wind shake, hurricanes, or who knows what!  I do think it will turn out nice because the pieces that I've pre-finished with shellac are looking good.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Doors Assembled

     Well, the morning in the shop started with the bench looking like this:

Ready for the Hand Work

     Yesterday I had cut all of the mortises with a hollow chisel mortiser and also cut full tenons on each of the crosspieces for the four doors.  No matter how careful I am, it's still easy to get confused as to which piece goes to which door.  The tenons all had to be sized to fit the appropriate mortise, they are all haunched.  Since they are as close to being the same as possible due to the machine set-ups from yesterday it meant that once I set the measuring/marking tools up it got to be almost like a production job.  I prefer to saw on the auxiliary bench, easier on my old back!  To size the tenons and cut the haunch I use the dovetail saw.  After doing all eight of them, here's what I had:

Ready for Sizing

     At this point they are all ready to be customized to fit where they belong.  What's required is a bit of chisel work to fine tune the haunch or the mortise.  The tool I utilize the most to adjust the tenon cheeks is a rabbet block plane:

Trimming Cheeks

     This tool works the best for me, I know you can also use a rabbet plane to accomplish this and although I've tried it, this is my choice.  Just support the piece on a bench hook and take whatever off of the tenon until it fits.  All four doors were assembled before noon and one of them seems to have a bit of a twist in it.  This African Mahogany has really been a bear to work with so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I won't need to make another door from scratch.  Decided it was much too nice of a day to stay in the shop so headed out to Red Rock for a nice, two hour hike.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Machine Work aka Noisy & Dusty Operations are Done

Door Parts   Mortise & Tenon
     Most of the shop time today revolved around machine work.  The first step was cutting the parts required for the door.  You can see the uprights on the bench in the background with all of the mortises done, as far as machining goes.  In the foreground is the tenoning jig and all of the cross pieces for the doors.  I always machine these parts ever so slightly, oversized.  Then it's a simple matter of cutting the tenon to fit it's mortise exactly with a dovetail saw and a rabbet plane.
     Earlier this morning the wine glass holders were machined and attached to the shelf.  Like the other interior pieces for the Wine Cupboard, these too will be shellacked before installation.  The rat tail latches came in the mail on Saturday and I'm hoping the hinges arrive soon.  If all goes according to plan the doors should be assembled tomorrow.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why Do I Always Pick the Hard Stuff??

     I guess I can answer that: "if it was easy then everybody would do it!".  I'm finding out that the African Mahogany is quite a difficult and unpredictable wood to work with.  Whenever I select lumber I like to find the widest stock so that the wood will be as close to the same color, texture, and grain patterns as possible.  I do this for the visual continuity it gives and also since I prefer to use clear finishes rather than stain, the color will usually be a good match.  When I began ripping the wide board to the sizes I needed it was like ripping wet Redwood when I worked at Silvera Lumber in Antioch!  You could see the wood curl and move as the tension within the board was released by the cutting action.  I've already had to get some more of it because several pieces were just beyond salvaging.
     At this point, I'm concerned about the success of these wine cupboards.  I've cut the door pieces to rough size and brought them into the house just to see how they will react in a warmer, drier environment.  In the meantime, I've decided to continue but I'm prepared to scrap the whole thing if needed.  If the quality and craftsmanship isn't there they won't leave the shop and I'll chalk it up to experience.  Sometimes it's better to push on even if the outcome is uncertain, you can always learn something.
     The interior of these cupboards is somewhat complicated.  Because of that they were shellacked before assembly.  Since shellac is an easy finish to touch up I decided to go this route, here's the pieces laid out with three coats of shellac:

All Shellacked

     You can see the square pieces that will support the bottles, then the sides, top, and bottom, and the back pieces laying on the tablesaw.  That propane tank you see in the background is my only heat source out there.  It's mounted on a furniture dolly so I can put it wherever I want.  After applying the third coat I went to work on roughing out the stock for the doors and made the T-molding that will hold the wine glasses.

     Towards the end of the day I decided to go ahead and assemble the two cases and that's where things got tricky!

Assembled, Clamped, and Ready 
     The tricky part here was that the bottom, dovetailed piece had to be glued and clamped into place but at the same time; I needed to insert the 6 rods that will hold the bottles and slide the back into the dado.  To add to the difficulty, the unstable nature of the African Mahogany meant that some of those rods had a bit of a twist to them.  I followed all of the recommended procedures, dry fit first, have clamps ready, have mallet ready, take a couple of deep breaths, then glue and work like the dickens!  Thankfully it wasn't too bad but glue-ups always stress me out anyway.  The final step to the assembly of this case is the shelf that goes up about 1/3 of the way.  This will fit into the sliding dovetails and help to keep this unstable wood from getting too crazy!  That will be finished before it's glued and slid into place.
     I'll let them dry over-night, keep my fingers crossed that the door pieces won't go crazy, and grab a glass of wine before dinner.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mock Up and First Look

First Look
     Kind of sounds like something you see while you're waiting for a show to start in the theater!  I imagine many of you feel like I do at times as you work on a project.  There are so many preliminary steps before you actually see something that looks like the vision in your head or the drawing on your plan you may lose sight of that.  Here are the two wine cupboards dry-fit together. The one on the right has the middle shelf slid into a sliding dovetail, the joint chosen to hold the center of the cupboards together.  This is my first time using African Mahogany and I'm finding it somewhat problematic to work with.  After rough cutting the parts there was a lot of movement, warping, and other nasty stuff!  Needed to get some more material because the boards I'd selected for the doors took a major twist which wouldn't work for door parts anymore.
     The wine bottles will be supported by the 5/8" square pieces laying in the foreground.  Assembly will be tricky -- there are six of these pieces that need to be fit into the holes on the side and the dovetails at the bottom of the case plus the top piece all have to be glued and clamped at the same time.  Looks like a job where I'll need to ask for an extra pair of hands from Diane.
Using Set Up Blocks to Measure Dovetail Bit
     For Christmas, I received a gift of the set up blocks sold through Lee Valley and made by Veritas.  They were demonstrated at a recent Sin City Woodworkers meeting and seemed like a good tool to have.  They are very nice!  Much easier to get the proper depth with them as opposed to using a scale or scrap of wood.

     Last of all, I'd like to share something with you, I was able to get into Ian Agrell's , five day carving class.  He is a renowned wood carver and known internationally.  If you're interested in seeing some of his work here's a LINK to his website.  You'll be amazed at his portfolio of work.  He's done carving for huge churches, the Pope, and other equally impressive clients.  Luckily, the studio is less than 10 miles from my sister so I'll be able to stay with her.  Really looking forward to that, it's towards the end of February.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Beginnings of a new Project

Where most projects begin
     My recent series of blogs where I talked about my design process didn't really address where many things have to go before work begins.  If I'm doing a project for myself I'll often make some rough sketches and then "fly by the seat of my pants"!  When it's done for a client I seldom have the freedom to do that.  They generally want a fairly definite idea before they write a check for the deposit.  I've heard it said that if you can draw it you can build it and that's pretty accurate assessment of how to start a project.  That's the approach I'm taking on this Wine Cupboard.  One will be for myself, the other will go to the gallery as a speculation piece.  It's designed to fit in a someones' home and will hold four glasses and three bottles of wine.  After making preliminary sketches and some quick mock-ups out of wood I stood in front of my stand up drafting table and finalized the design.  Some will argue that using a computer to create drawings is quicker but I find that I can build it in my mind better if I actually put pencil to paper.
     When a project is designed as a speculation piece, its' design and construction has to stand out from the ordinary things people can buy elsewhere.  The trick is to provide enough special details to set it apart without pricing it completely out of the market -- a tall order in these economic times!  My forte is my emphasis on old world craftsmanship and hand cut joinery so dovetails were in order.  The one area of dovetails that causes me the most grief is maintaining an even edge where the two pieces come together.  I decided to try a technique I've read about where you cut a relief on the inside of the tailboard like this:
Tailboard Relief
     This technique is named after a certain Stanley plane but I can't recall the number -- really doesn't matter but to achieve this I used the table saw with the blade set slightly higher than the thickness of the board and a depth of about a 1/16" of an inch.  This is more obvious in this picture:

Chisel the Shoulder Line

     It's easy to see that initial cut that will give a sharp, finished edge to the inside of the cabinet.
     Something else I'd like to point out here as well.  First, the board was scribed to the required thickness and angled tails were cut.  Now, before using the saw to cut the shoulders I chiseled out a wedge of wood just as you'd do to remove area between the tails.  Finally, I cut about a 1/16th. of an inch from the shoulder line.  Why go to all of that?  Let me show you:

Paring the Shoulder

     Those initial cuts with the chisel give a great visual reference.  Notice the different appearance of the wood where it's been sliced with the chisel (darker & smoother) compared to where it was cut with the dovetail saw which appears cloudy and fuzzy.  By slicing diagonally it's fairly easy to achieve a smooth shoulder.  Actually it would be better to undercut this than leave it high.

     Another advantage to cutting that initial piece of the edge of the board is that it's much easier to line it up when you lay out your pin board:

Transferring Tails to Pin Board
     That ledge you create with that initial cut is butted right up against the edge of the pin board so alignment of them is simplified and more secure.  To cut out the waste between the pins you should follow the same procedure.  First of all, set your chisel right on the scribed line and remove a small wedge.  By doing this it's easier to keep your shoulder square.  If you don't remove that wedge first the chisel will have the tendency to cut inward resulting is a poor shoulder line.  Here you can see what I mean by the wedge better:

Removing waste from the Pin Board

     Now that the bottoms of the cases are dovetailed, the next step will be to cut a sliding dovetail for the center shelf.  This will be done with a router using the same technique that Dennis Patchett showed at one of the Sin City Woodworkers meetings.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Proof is in the Shavings!

Trial Run
     Some of you may remember the old advertisement whose tag line was "the proof is in the pudding", hope I'm not showing my age but that's what came to mind when I took the now completed scrub plane for a test run.  Look at those shavings!  See the concave tracks made by the blade?  Beautiful, I couldn't ask for more.

Purpleheart Sole and Mouth View
     The blade from Ron Hock is fantastic, I honed it on a 1000 grit then 8000 grit waterstone which only took a couple of minutes to accomplish.  The throat on the plane is large enough to pass some pretty large pieces which is what you want from a scrub plane.  It's all about hogging off the warped or cupped section of a board.

Final Picture
     For the finish I used the same three part mix I use on my furniture.  It's equal parts of boiled linseed oil, pure gum turpentine, and polyurethane.  This was rubbed in with 320 grit, wet/dry paper then wiped dry.  I'll do a couple more coats and then we're done.
     Very enjoyable project, one of those that I'll be reminded of every time  I grab this plane!  If you are now inspired to possibly make your own plane, Ron Hock sells complete kits on his website that include everything you need, even the wood.  I have a link to his website on my blog.  They are of the classic James Krenov design and don't have the tote and handle I've added to mine.  If you want to make a scrub plane from the kit he'll substitute the straight blade for a radiused one like I used.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Shaping the Scrub Plane

Getting Into Shape
      Well, I just couldn't wait to take a picture and post it on the blog.   Who knows, some of you may be as excited as I am about the progress of the plane!  Since this is something I've never done before I wouldn't mind constructive criticism about the progress.  This plane is definitely based on the James Krenov design but I've modified it to better suit, what I think, a scrub plane should do.
      At this point I've been using spokeshaves, files, chisels, and rasps to form the handle and the knob.  It's far from being finished so I just wiped it down with turpentine to add some color to it.  In my research there was some mention that the Krenov style plane's design didn't give a real good grip and scrubbing requires a lot of grip and oomph!  Because of that I chose to use a saw type handle at the rear and a knob (of sorts) at the front.  If you remember back to the beginning stages these pieces were pretty blocky.  My strategy was to simply grip the plane as if I were using it and see how things feel.  My left hand would be at the front.  The knob is contoured so my hand can wrap around it with either all four fingers below the top of the knob and the thumb wrapped around it or else three fingers can wrap and the index finger and thumb go over the knob.  I just started to radius it until it felt good.  There is more radius on the left side then there is on the right.  The rear handle is pretty straight forward and I'm working on blending it into the sides.  Generally when I plane my habit is to wrap my hand around the rear handle but my index finger lays along the side.
      The wedge I came up with is from a scrap of Zebrawood and the sole of the plane is just under eleven  inches long.  Now's the time we woodworkers tend to rush things but I'm determined to work the wood with sandpaper until it's as smooth and silky as the proverbial babies' butt!

Monday, January 2, 2012

First Shavings & I'm EXCITED !!

First Scrub Plane Shavings
     There you have it -- the first shavings from the first plane I've ever attempted to make!  The cut is pretty nice and I haven't even honed the blade!  This blade from Ron Hock will be a joy to use.  I'm thinking that once I have the plane adjusted I'll just be able to leave it set up.  In my last blog I mentioned entering that realm of the unknown, something I always look forward to.  Kind of like your first race at a new distance and I've experienced that from a 10k to a 100 miler, you just have to take those first steps and even though there may lots of trepidation you push forward.  In the picture, the dowel that is used to wedge the blade tight is only pushed part way through one side.  This is my second wedge because the first one was too short.  Now that the dowel is glued in I can work on shaping the wedge so it's easier to grab on to.
     One area that was a little vague to me was to determine where to locate the 1/2" dowel in the body of the plane.  Krenov's book and Hock's plan showed it to be 1 1/4" from the bottom.  Here's how I solved this:

Dowel Lay-Out
     By using a small sliding bevel  I located the 45 degree ramp for the blade and also the other side of the mouth.  There is a line drawn on at 1 1/4" from the bottom.  Laying the blade and wedge on the side of the plane allowed me to locate the dowel.  Simply cut a small piece of it, laid in on the line, then after marking the center of it drilled the hole through the body on the drill press to ensure it being square.

     I also needed to complete the mouth opening through the sole.  At first, this is what it looked like inside the plane.  If you look closely you can see how I put a slight chamfer on it before I glued it on.  That really helped when I used chisels to extend that 45 degree angle completely through the plane.

     By first "nibbling" the Purple Heart sole with a smaller chisel it was easier to use the long paring chisel to set the angle.  This had to be as close to perfection as I could get so the blade would have a good, flat surface to bed on.

Clogged Mouth
     After drilling the dowel hole and then wedging the blade in for the first attempts I found that the throat was too small.  This was an area that I wasn't too sure about.  For a smooth plane you want the smallest possible throat so that the plane presses down on the wood and allows the thinnest of shavings to come through.  I thought I'd made it pretty large but, as you can see, the shavings wouldn't pass through and it became clogged.
     To remedy that the plane was clamped upside-down and then I carefully chiseled the front of the mouth larger.  Similar to chiseling out a mortise for a hinge but the Walnut block had end grain which I didn't want to split through.  As the first picture showed it all worked.  Looking forward to working the shape of the plane so that it will fit my hand when I use it.  That's the next step in this process.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Realm of the Unknown

     The more I get into making this plane, the more I realize I really don't know!  I've handled very few wooden bodied planes so I'm kind of going by logic and pictures.  After Church, I started the day with this:

Sunday Morning
     At this point things are pretty blocky and I'm resisting the urge to smooth, round, chisel, sand, etc. to a shape that's pleasing to my hands.  The main thing missing is a sole.  The directions say to attach the sole, mark out the mouth, and then cut it out with either a router or coping saw.  I chose the latter:

Roughing out the Mouth
     What you see here is the piece of Purple Heart that will become the sole of the plane.  I'm a little bit stymied with how to treat the mouth.  The pencil line you see is the actual space for the mouth in between the front and rear blocks.  The rear block is cut at 45 degrees so the mouth in the sole will need to be formed to make a ramp that is perfectly flat and 45 degrees all the way to the opening.  Since this is what the blade rests on it seems that will be crucial.  Because this plane will be used to take large shavings, the mouth can and should, be pretty large so they will pass through.  I did cut a slight chamfer on the bottom of the mouth, it will eventually taper from the pencil line to the edge of the opening.  I'll use a paring chisel to accomplish that once the glue dries over-night.  By contrast, my bronze Smooth Plane has a very "tight" mouth to allow just the thinnest of shavings to pass through.  The two holes at the top of the sole are for the Ebony pegs that will align the sole to the body.

     Here's where I left off this afternoon, everything's glued together and I roughed out the wedge from a piece of Zebrawood.  It and the blade are at the lower corner of this picture:

There's a Plane in There Somewhere!
     Just a side note here, last night Diane and I went to a place called  Bottles & Burgers for some gourmet burgers on New Years Eve.  The tables had a rustic finish on them which could have easily been made by a curved bladed scrub plane such as this project will hopefully become.

Happy New Year to All of You