Thursday, 9 October 2014

Handle fitting in 2 piece infill

Reader directed blog posts are a great. I have mentioned before that generating content is becoming increasingly challenging. I am reluctant to start recycling earlier topics, but it feels like I am at a point where there is not much ‘new’ to say. So questions or requests from readers are extremely helpful.

This post was initiated by Owen and a few others expressed interest in it as well - so here goes.




The question has to do with construction and fitting the handle into the rear infill of a large plane. The rear infill is a single piece of wood and the handle is a separate piece of wood. The handle is mortised through the rear infill right to the bottom. I have seen many original Spiers and Norris planes where the handle is not fully moritsed into the rear infill... and the fact that I have seen this points out the flaw of this approach - they often come loose. They were usually just glued in - without the additional strength of a cross pin - which is shocking really. I always have 2 pins pass through the handle - it just strikes me as good, sound, mechanical strength.

I make a square mortise in the rear infill and then fit the handle to the mortise. The mortise is sized a little smaller than the handle blank - usually by less than .0010". Once the rear infill is fit, I start fitting the handle.

Oh, I should preface this entire process by saying that I am not a militant numbers guy. I do not work in such a way where a handle would fit into another plane - it will only fit the plane I am working on. I have zero interest in making a pile of metal pieces and a pile of wood pieces and have them be able to fit with each other interchangably. I would rather gnaw my arm off than work that way! I don't need to have all the handle blanks be 1.120391" wide - I rough out a handle to somewhere between 1-1/8" and 1-1/16" wide and put it on the shelf until it is needed. But... I do use calipers all the time because the fit between 2 parts does require paying attention to the numbers. I don't care what the specific thickness of the handle is - but it has to be consistent at each corner to within 0.001". I hope the difference makes sense.




These previous 2 shots show the handle slipping into the rear infill. I should also mention that the fit between these parts is incredibly tight. The rear infill is just a pressure fit, but is good enough that it could support the weight of the metal shell if lifted. Even at this stage, the handle could also support the weight of the shell and rear infill if lifted.

With the handle bank to the correct thickness, I can now mark the notch at the back of the handle. This struck me as the best approach to dealing with the rounded back of the handle - have it overlap the rear infill as opposed to try and cut a precise radius in the rear infill. I am shaping the handles freehand and don't want to have to bother to worry about the precise radius I file - this process allows me to work the way I want to.




The shot above shows the cut-out notch. At this point, I fit the handle fairly close and will make adjustments to the notch so it rests quite flush with the rear infill. I do not worry about final adjustments until the handle has been shaped though - no point in fitting areas that will be filed off in the shaping process.




Here is the handle roughly shaped - and the files I use to get there.






With the rear of the handle roughly shaped, I now start to fine tune the fit between the rounded back and the deck of the rear infill. I use chisels and files to fine tune the fit until there is no gap between the handle and rear infill. The shot above and below show what it looks like.



The next 2 shots show the handle fully shaped, sanded and placed in the rear infill as a final check before gluing. Please click on any of the images to get a larger view.





I use polyeurathane glue for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it has a long open time. Secondly, it has no gap filling properties - so it forces me to work very precisely. Thirdly, it was originally designed for gluing Teak and none of the woods I work with are that oily so I figured it would be a good choice.

The shot above shows a small curl of glue being chiseled away. Click on this image to see a larger view to show the fit between the handle and the rear infill.



A final shot of the rear infill with the glue squeeze-out cleaned up.

I hope this helps Owen - and thanks for the topic suggestion.


15 Comments:

Anonymous Tico Vogt said...

Great post! A couple of questions: what scribing tools do you use in fitting the lower edge of the handle to mate with the surface below, and do you glue the lower piece in place against the metal?

9 October 2014 12:02  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Tico,

Not 100% sure I understand your question, but I think you are asking what tools I use fit the underside of the handle that rests on the top of the rear infill. I use a Blue Spruce marking knife and both graphite and white pencils for marking high spots etc. I have an articulated lamp positioned behind the plane that will show a light gap quite easily. When there is a gap, it is pretty easy to look to see where the high spot is. I use chisels initially, but depending on the species of wood and the grain, I will switch to a file to get the fit just right.

There is no glue used in any of the wood to metal contact points. The cross pins are all that hold the infill in place. You could drill out the pins, pop them out and pull out the infill.

cheers,
konrad

9 October 2014 12:33  
Blogger Steve Kirincich said...

Hi Konrad,
Have you ever shown any of your early efforts at plane making? You certainly have no shortage of admirers, but I am going to guess that you needed some time and missteps before you became very proficient.

With your impressive collection of old, exotic wood, do you have any good wood collecting stories? This will probably make Raney incredibly jealous!

Steve

9 October 2014 18:39  
Blogger Owen Crane said...

Wow - Really can't say how much I appreciate you taking the time to show us every little detail we want to see! Amazing that you're able to do work of this quality and still take the time to walk us through it.
Also, have to thank you for something else - can't remember what posting it was, but I think you linked us to a Chris Schwarz article about somewhat of an All Star Planemakers showdown. Ironically, after a very fair review of each amazing plane... the post ended with a somewhat "hey, whatever works" vibe, in reference to Krenov's plane, which had the bed packed out with blue tape. (Btw - I think you might have been the only maker to get away without any real criticism - pretty good!) Anyhow, after some thought I decided if it was ok on Krenov's plane, it was ok in mine - and taped up all my wooden planes to get within a couple thou. Much quicker than re soling (although I'll do it eventually) and the performance has skyrocketed. This also brought another question to mind - I was bugging you about chipbreakers as well... In your experience, is it possible to have the breaker too close to the cutting edge, or is it better the closer you get, right up to the edge? (assuming of course you're not on or in front of). I'm experimenting, but experience comes so damn slowly sometimes.
Thanks again Konrad, and if you ever are struggling for content - I think we would all be happy to just see more pictures of the shop! I go through craigslist postings, forum pictures, instagram, whatever - looking in the background of people's furniture shots - just to see how they organize things. I noticed you're bench is fairly clean, with just that sweet rack of chisels, and usually a plane or two off to the side. I'd love to see what you keep for planes, I assume there must be some rather large cabinet or something packed to the gills?
Cheers,
Owen

9 October 2014 19:02  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the reminder - there have been a few requests for early plane photos. The next post will be photos - with all the glorious failings:)

Let me think on the wood collecting stories - there are quite a few of them to be sure.

cheers,
konrad

9 October 2014 20:10  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Owen,

You are most welcome - glad it was useful and informative.

The link to Chris's article was likely the planemaking gathering in 2005 if I remember correctly. At the time, I don't think any of us really recognized the importance of that gathering - in hindsight - it was pretty bloody amazing. At the risk of destroying my own business... 'whatever works' is pretty accurate. There are lots of good planes out there - in a wide variety of styles at a wide variety of prices and from a variety of makers. Not everyone connects with infills and that is totally cool - not everyone needs to. At the end of the day, if you have a tool that you enjoy using, that inspires you to do your best work, that you find comfortable to use and does the work that you ask of it - you don't need to look any further. Save your money and buy the best quality wood you can and make something amazing and beautiful with it.

Glad the tape worked so well on your wooden planes. I think I still have an early infill with a brass shim double sided taped to the back of the blade.

I am not sure if it is possible to get the chip breaker too close - I would imagine the leading edge of the mouth might start factoring into things - and affecting the ability for shavings to exit. Let me know what you find out.

Pictures of the shop... I think I can swing that too. Funny thing - I usually take all the shots in the shop at f1.4 thru f2.8 to keep the backgrounds blurry so they are not distracting.

My plane collection is a little embarrassing - if I check the serial number listing, I have made myself 44 planes over the years. Many of the early ones don't see the light of day, but there are several drawers that are pretty packed. Maybe I can roll this into the next blog post as well. One other funny thing that a good friend of mine suggested was doing a type study of my own planes. My personal planes are all the prototypes of almost all the various models so they are the best examples to use to show the evolution(s) they have gone through. This would take a bit of time to organize and figure out, but it might be of interest.

Cheers,
konrad

9 October 2014 20:34  
Anonymous Robert said...

That was fascinating!

Any chance you could show/tell how you french polish? I am familiar with french polishing large, flat surfaces, but wonder how you accomplish the required motions on small, tight, curved surfaces.

You mentioned this once before, but is a book (picture book) in the works? Maybe like the one from Bridge City Tools? That would be very cool.

10 October 2014 06:17  
Anonymous Nathan said...

I didn't know you were looking for content! I suppose at the risk of putting words in other woodworkers' mouths - as woodworkers we are interested in any and all the minutia of construction of your planes. Obviously, you should only reveal things you think are ok to share - we don't want your business destroyed either!

As with many things, I personally like to try them myself at the outset - I have a surplus of time and not of money at the moment, so I like to try these things as they come up. For example, when renovating my own home in 2008 I gutted a bathroom and replaced the drywall - I will never mud drywall again. I'm not good at it and have no desire to become good at it. MY guess is with my current attempt at a shoulder plane, I'll likely never dry a smoother or jointer - I'll leave it to the pros and be all the more awe-inspired by there work because now I have even more context to appreciate it.

I'll also say to not worry so much about recycling content. Yout blog archives only go back to 2007 and I was under the impression that you've been in business a few more years than that. I don't know if you blogged in those early years but I'm sure if you did your perspective on the content from experience has likely changed dramatically. And not all of us have been following you since the beginning.

I'd also be curious about some of the "extras" on the plane - and by that I mean simple things like how the screw is made, or even the chipbreaker.

I also appreciate your thoughts on design and what inspires you. Seeing you drool over a Porsche says a lot about where your influence comes from! You should also link to the youtube video of you at Fluxible.

10 October 2014 11:17  
Blogger Paul Kierstead said...

Awesome posts, I am always fascinated by the level of fit and finish you get. I look at mine, and cannot believe you go it that tight and perfect.

Here would be my request: Video of you doing some of the shaping on the handle. Many of us seem to argue with files and rasps, and I think seeing the movement patterns of a master would help very much in trying to get the right body language and movement.

10 October 2014 12:19  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Robert - glad you enjoyed it.

French polishing is something I am asked about somewhat regularly. I really do need to take some time and explore the video capabilities of my camera because french polishing would be much easier to explain with video as opposed to still images. I will see what I can do.

The book idea has been bouncing around for a very long time. One of the challenges is narrowing down the focus to something cohesive. A beautiful coffee table book with lots of great photos would certainly be fun and satisfy the ex-graphic designer in me... but I am not sure if it would feel complete. There is a part of me that is interested in talking about plane making and all that it involves - but also a somewhat chronological account of how Joe and I got started and how everything came to be. I suppose a chronological account could also include a lot of details about the actual plane making as well. It also feels a little strange to contemplate writing a book before I am finished making planes. If I had written it 3 or 4 years ago, it would have missed the entire K-series of planes - and that would have been a major omission. If nothing else though, a good reminder to at least start taking notes and recording some of the early stuff before I forget it all!

Cheers,
konrad

10 October 2014 19:05  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Nathan,

Thanks for the encouragement to include the minutia - there is certainly a lot of it in planemaking!

Drywalling - boy, I have done my fair share of it too. I have gotten fairly good at it. I am not fast, but I have gotten to a point where I only do one light sanding at the end. One of the best things I did was take a day off work and watch a professional plasterer mud drywall. He was an Italian trained craftsman, but was struggling to find work doing proper plastering so he ended up doing a fair amount of drywalling to make ends meet. I took a day off and watched him work - it was well worth it and I still use many of the techniques I learned from him. But yeah... drywalling kinda sucks... and the dust... that really sucks!

I think I have a series of photos of making a chip breaker, but if not, it should be easy to capture.

The Porsche thing has been an interesting subject. I am amazed at how many people have sent me notes about their own Porsche's or how they too lust after them. There are lots of other areas of inspiration - I will keep a running list and maybe start adding in the odd 'inspiration No.___' post here and there.

Hmmm... you found the Fluxible video. I have to say, I was quite nervous about watching it. I really enjoyed that event and the feedback was very positive, but I was a little worried about watching myself - hoping there were not any cringe worthy blunders. I waited about a week before even opening it, and then watched it at midnight after everyone was fast asleep. Totally dorky I know.

cheers,
konrad

10 October 2014 19:23  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Paul. I went back into my photo archive to remind myself of your plane. Man, that was a pretty sweet piece of Rosewood!

Yeah - I am with you on the video front. I am somewhat embarrassed about the fact that my shop camera is extremely capable of video and I have yet to really explore it. Keep reminding me - and kick me in the pants if need be. Handle shaping would be a good one to show - as would setting the blade on a plane, using an adjuster, and... the list goes on and on.

cheers,
konrad

10 October 2014 19:27  
Blogger Owen Crane said...

Also your sharpening set up!! (and that would be an awesome video too) I love seeing different peoples, because I don't think I've seen any that I consider perfect yet.

Owen

10 October 2014 22:11  
Blogger Owen Crane said...

Also Konrad, if you don't mind - I bought my first piece of ebony the other day. Was quite surprised that it worked pretty nicely!? I thought it would be too much for my little planes. Anyhow, it's a little turning blank that I'm going to build a smoothing plane out of. Just thought I'd check as I think you work with it more than anyone I know - type of glue you prefer? I have a bunch of titebond polyurethane leftover from a job in Ipe - have you used this stuff? success? also, do you wipe down lightly with acetone or water before gluing? Hope you don't mind me treating you as an encyclopedia - just don't want to screw this thing up.
Cheers,
Owen

20 October 2014 16:24  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Owen,

Your piece of Ebony - I am assuming it was labeled Gaboon Ebony? Were the ends waxed or was the entire piece waxed? Do you have a moisture meter that allows you to adjust for gravitational density? What I am getting at is figuring out how dry it is. Most Ebony sold now is quite wet - even if they advertise it as 'kiln dried'. My experience with testing 'kiln dried' Ebony is that the MC is usually between 14% and 18% - far from dry. Bring the piece into your shop (heated and fairly dry? - do you have a hygrometer?). Let it sit for a month or so. Then, scrape off the wax from one of the long sides and let it sit for another month. Keep a really close eye on it - if checks develop - mark them with white pencil crayon and watch it like a hawk. If checks do not develop (sigh) after another month, scrape off the wax off the opposite edge. Wait another month. Then do a third side, wait a month, then the last side. With the sides done - then remove the wax from the ends. Hopefully, the piece of wood does not check during any of these steps. Write the date on each of the sides and make notes of any checks etc.

What are the dimensions of the piece? Ebony is pretty notorious for checking as it dries (sorry to say). It does work quite well - although extremely messy and the black dust will stain everything - you will look like a coal miner! I have never wiped it down with acetone when gluing it. I would get a fresh bottle of glue - just to be safe (if you have to glue any pieces together). I have had good success with Gorilla glue but any of the titebonds would be fine too - it does not need to be a polyurethane glue either.

If the Ebony feels really soft when you are working it - like a really hard, but pleasant Walnut, and feels fairly light weight, it might be Madagascar Ebony. This Ebony has become 'unobtanium' in the last several years, but it is the Ebony that everyone thinks of when they imagine Ebony - jet black, very easy to work with, and polishes to a stunning coal-like black. It was used for Piano keys, all sorts of wind instruments, the fingerboards of early Martin guitars and many, many woodworking tools. Gaboon Ebony is usually very brown when placed next to it. If you take a pocket knife and cut into the edge of the square, it will flake like frozen butter if it is Madagascar Ebony - Gaboon will feel quite hard and you may not be able to cut it at all. It will give you a sense that you knife might slip even if it is very sharp. That is Gaboon Ebony.

hope that helps.
cheers,
konrad

20 October 2014 18:27  

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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A spare XSNo.4 & a few recent planes


There is only one infill wood that I like with naval brass... until now. I found some very old Ziricote quite a few years ago, and in 2008, roughed out this set. It sat on the shelf until a couple of months ago when I pulled it down and decided to make a spare plane. I was debating on steel or bronze sides and then remembered I had some naval brass as well. Until now, I had only ever used Ebony with naval brass, but the Ziricote looked really, really good with it, so decided to go for it.




I also used naval brass for the lever cap, the lever cap screw and the infill cross pins. 




The brass cross pins make for a very clean look which I like. The cross pin for the lever cap is steel. 



The 1-9/16" blade is high carbon steel from Ron Hock and is bedded at 52.5 degree. The plane is $1,750.00 Cdn. This plane has been sold.







This next plane is another XSNo.4, infilled with English Boxwood.  It has a bronze lever cap and lever cap screw with steel sides.  Boxwood is wonderful to work with - it smells great too... unlike Desert Ironwood, which is basically like working with very dry poo.



The Boxwood is soaked in oil for several days and then given a light coat of paste wax.










I have always found it difficult to photograph the difference between bronze and naval brass, but this next photo captures it fairly well.







This next plane is a Desert Ironwood filled K18. It is always challenging to find Desert Ironwood large enough for a plane of this size, but it is so worth it!








 

 








 The front pad has some stunning burl figure.













And last, but certainly not least, is a plane that I really enjoyed making. I have not made an A5 for a long time, and it was a real treat to make one again. Bronze sides, lever cap and lever cap screw with African Blackwood infill. 






2" wide, V11 blade and a 50 degree bed angle. 


 


African Blackwood and French polish are perfect for each other. 

 







13 Comments:

Blogger Charlton Wang said...

Sweet!! You really do have some sweet wood!

1 October 2014 21:40  
Anonymous Gary said...

Love that little boxwood plane, Konrad. Is that one also for sale?

2 October 2014 03:32  
Blogger Richard Wile said...

Yes Konrad you do have some nice wood (?). If I did not already have one of those, that Ziricote one would be on its way here.

As always, amazing work!

2 October 2014 05:30  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Charlton.

Cheers,
konrad

2 October 2014 06:15  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Gary,

The boxwood plane was commissioned, but I do have another set from the same piece of Boxwood. I could certainly make another one.

cheers,
konrad

2 October 2014 06:17  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Richard,

Glad you like the Ziricote plane - it is a pretty sweet one, and nice to find another material that works well with naval brass.

cheers,
konrad

2 October 2014 06:19  
Blogger Neill said...

Konrad,

I am proud and honored to say that the A% is mine. I cannot wait to get my hands on it. It turned out more beautiful than I thought. The first photo has replaced by Jaguar as my monitor's background.

If anyone has any hesitation in making the financial commitment to purchase an S & S plane, let me say that it has been a distinct pleasure in dealing with a craftsman and a gentlemen like you.

Neill

2 October 2014 11:34  
Blogger Owen Crane said...

Hi Konrad - beautiful work as always! You skipped september though! I must say I was starting to dread that picture of the hammer - although I took the time to go back and re-read everything from the beginning. (again) I learn an astonishing amount from your posts. I've had a few questions accumulating though - I'm assuming that since you don't use chipbreakers on the K series and some others they aren't necessary, but I don't really understand why. Wouldn't the screw eventually dig into the metal and want to keep the iron in the same spot? Is the screw just soft enough that this isn't a concern? Also I had been wondering if the infills are also epoxied into the metal, or if it's just with those cross pins. Lastly, and I had been wondering about this somewhat vaguely and then when you had mentioned it was tough to find large enough desert ironwood it reminded me - are your handles out of one piece on something like that? I kind of assume so, because I would think it would be better and stronger - but it does seem like it would involve a lot of waste and I know you're not a fan of that. Sometimes it looks like the handle is just dropped into a perfectly fit mortise in base/bed rear infill. I think there were quite a few others but I can't remember right now, I'll have to start keeping a list. Apologies for the short essay in the meantime!
Thanks,
Owen

2 October 2014 19:55  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thank-you Neill - for the very kind comments on the A5 and the experience thus far.

Commissioning a custom made handplane is a large financial commitment and I continue to to be grateful that there are people like yourself who see the value in it and are willing to support me.

warmest wishes,
ks

3 October 2014 06:14  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hello Owen,

The short essay is most welcome - thank-you for taking the time to write.

Sorry about the hammer being up front for so long - content is getting a little harder to scare up after all these years! And I have to say, I am pretty impressed that you read the whole blog... again! Wow - glad you were able to find some useful information in it.

As to your questions.

In some circles, there is a lot of debate about chip breakers - usually coupled with the idea that they have recently been re-discovered. One of the goals of a chip-breaker is to reduce tear- out. If the chipbreaker is properly tuned and set to within .004" (if I recall), they are very good at reducing or even eliminating tear-out. Another option is to have a plane with a very fine mouth... under .006". I think these measurements being similar is not a coincidence, and from my experience with all the K-series planes and several of the un-handled planes, having a very fine mouth accomplishes the same thing. The way I make planes, I build in the ability to control the mouth opening - I have to file it open to allow the blade to pass through. Infill blades are generally very thick, so a chip breaker is not adding stability to the blade at all - unlike my grandfathers Stanley No.5. There are several other technical characteristics of an infill that help reduce tear out as well, but the fine mouth is an important ones.

The lever cap screw can create a divot in a chip breaker if they are over tightened. They cannot create a divot in the actual blade - the blades are too hard. This is one of the reasons I round over the tip of the screw - to reduce the ability for it to cut into the cap iron.

The infills are not epoxied in - the cross pins are all that is holding them in place. I don't use metal sleeves or screws either - just a straight pin that is piened over at each end. Epoxy is messy, not fun to work with, and completely unnecessary if the fit between the metal shell and the infill is good. Epoxy will not reduce or eliminate wood movement either. Old, dry appropriate infill material is the best and simplest solution to the wood movement issue.

The rear infill of a handled plane is made up of 2 pieces. The handle, which is fully mortised into the rear infill, and the rear infill itself. It would be a tremendous waste to make it from a solid piece. I will post a few photos to show this - I thought I had done so already. The A5 in the post has a rear infill made from 3 pieces - the handle and a cheek piece attached to each side. The front bun or front pad is always made from a single piece and is usually the biggest challenge - especially on a 28-1/2" jointing plane!

Best wishes,
konrad

3 October 2014 07:11  
Blogger Charlton Wang said...

That's a very informative post Konrad. Very enlightening.

Cheers,
Charlton

3 October 2014 09:02  
Blogger Owen Crane said...

Thanks for getting back to me Konrad, these things have been a bee in my bonnet for a while now! And at least now I can fathom how you are shaping the lower section to the sidewalls....when I thought they might be one piece I was extremely irritated as I really couldn't see how you would be doing it with the tools you use! Not that there's any less magic involved - but it is nice to be able to grasp the idea at the very least. And pretty cool that they are mortised in. Your fitting is ridiculously tight. Also I'm amazed and even more impressed that there is no adhesive involved. Makes it that much cooler!
I didn't know chip breakers were about tear out - I thought they were only to reduce chatter and add stiffness (is it that doing those things would reduce tear out as well?) very interesting! And now I would not be worried at all, as I know what you're mouth tolerances are. Thanks again for all your help - and don't worry about people like me moaning that you're not posting fast enough... I'm amazed that you manage to have a blog at all. And to be honest I can go back again and again to check little tidbits of information and techniques as I come across them in my life - there's a lot of good stuff packed in here!
Cheers,
Owen

3 October 2014 12:07  
Blogger Chris Bame said...

Nice batch Konrad!! Really like the K 18. I am surprised that the handled planes are two piece, Looking forward to see the pics of that
I'm about to test the new and old irons on some rift white oak.
I'll let you know how it goes. It sharpened up nice.

Cheers Chris

4 October 2014 22:35  

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Friday, 8 August 2014

An afternoon ‘ah-ha‘ moment

When Joe and I started making planes in 2000, we often commented that we needed a bell or horn to sound whenever we had an ‘ah-ha’ moment about plane making. The bell would have gone off every 30 minutes that first year - there were countless ‘ah-ha’ moments. Changing a process, an order of operation, a 180 degree about face or rethinking about how we were doing something. It was both terrifying and exhilarating to be learning at such a fast pace.

Sadly, there are not nearly as many ‘ah-ha’ moments these days... but I had a little one today.




I am not exactly sure where I got my ball pien hammer, but I do know that I have had it since the beginning. I tried several different ones; long handles, short handles and of course, different weights. The one I settled on is a little heavier than most people would likely use (the old adage of ‘Get a bigger hammer’ does not apply to piening a handplane together!). The head has come loose several times and it is currently wedged with a boxwood off-cut (Riley fixed our camping axe with a Rosewood wedge).




This hammer has become an extension of my hand- I know just where to hold it for various piening tasks and adjust my grip without even thinking about it. I know when to rotate my wrist a bit to direct the blows exactly where they are needed. It would be a very dark day if anything ever happened to it. A year or so ago I realized that the handle had a noticeable curve to it - not sure if I did that or if it came that way... might be a lefty thing.

The ball end has always been highly polished, but there was a fairly deep off centre pit which showed up from time to time on the piened surface. For some very odd reason, that pit annoyed me today so I did something about it right in the middle of piening a K13 shell. I went over to my disc sander and re-shaped the ball and went back to work. No more pit marks, but something had changed. It took piening a few dovetails to realize what it was. The surface of the dovetail was different but more importantly (and alarmingly), I was not able to see the precise location of the piening strike as I was making them. I have very good natural side light in the shop but the strikes were not nearly as clear as I was used to. I have always relied very heavily on light (natural or artificial) for feedback and this experience reiterated this fact. I stopped piening and looked at the end of the ball. It was no longer  polished, so I got out some sandpaper to re-polished it.




It only took a few minutes, and after the first 2 or 3 strikes I was back in business - much clearer piening strikes and the surface finish I was used to.

I am going to assume that this is common knowledge for blacksmiths - keep your hammers polished to aid in locating the hammer blows, but since I have no formal blacksmith training (nor planemaking for that matter!) this was a bit of an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me. 

The photo below shows the difference between the two.  The freshly disc sanded ball pien blows on the left dovetail and the re-polished ball pien blows on the right dovetail. Click on the image for a larger view - the difference between the two should be very clear.




On another note, I want to thank all the Porsche loving people who wrote to talk about their 911’s, 356’s or their love of Porsche in general. It was great to make another connection. Sadly, the 356 has been returned to its owner, but Moe (who works at the shop) tells me a 911 will be coming in shortly - I can’t wait to see it!

And I may as well toss this out there too... if anyone has, or knows of a 1971 (my birth year) 911 that is for sale please let me know. I could make a heck of a lot of planes... just sayin :)

It does not need to be restored at all, in fact, I would like to take it on as a bit of a restoration project... now that I know how a ball pien hammer is supposed to look. 



14 Comments:

Blogger JMAW Works said...

Very interesting, especially since the opposite is true for nail driving hammers. Polish one of those up and you'll think you've forgotten how to drive a nail. Thanks for passing this on.

8 August 2014 09:29  
Blogger Bartee said...

Ah Ha ! Yes I can see the difference. The mark of a craftsman is his tools. Most often most people would not think those tools had quality.

Always enjoy your posts. My car is a 1957 Chevy.

8 August 2014 12:40  
Blogger Kevin Brehon said...

Thanks for this post. Every little insight helps.

9 August 2014 09:36  
Anonymous Tico Vogt said...

Cool!

10 August 2014 08:53  
Anonymous Jonny said...

Very cool!
I always enjoy your posts.

11 August 2014 11:20  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks for the reminder of the framing hammer - maybe I should re-file the grooves that were once there - or maybe the disc sander would take care of it?

Cheers,
konrad

11 August 2014 11:27  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey Bartee - a 57 Chevy is a pretty sweet ride - good call! Glad you enjoyed the post.

cheers,
konrad

11 August 2014 11:28  
Blogger Konrad said...

You are welcome Kevin, and feel free to suggest other areas of plane making you might like to see.

cheers,
konrad

11 August 2014 11:28  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Tico and Jonny - glad you enjoyed it.

cheers,
konrad

11 August 2014 11:29  
Blogger JMAW Works said...

For a true framing hammer, I'd run a file in the grooves to give sharpish points so it looks about like http://jmawworks.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-016.html. My dad tells a story about filing his hammer and swapping a longer handle in the 70's as a poor Midwest carpenter when he first saw them on a Californian job site, as they worked so well (pre-nailgun days)
For a finish hammer, I'd only scuff with roughish sandpaper by hand; Using a power sander might take out the crown in the face, which you want to keep for control and finish work. The key is mostly "not polished and waxed" (unless it's a buddy's hammer:)
--Jeremy

11 August 2014 12:22  
Blogger Owen Crane said...

Hey Konrad, are the dovetails dovetailed in two directions? Ie. Not like with wood? I thought I read something saying that and it still boggles my mind. I'd love to see a post showing that if you find time.
Cheers,
Owen

15 August 2014 16:22  
Anonymous Derek Cohen said...

Konrad, you need to lie about your date of birth - here's your chance to become two years younger! Then you would qualify for a '73 2.7 RS. Many reckon this was the greatest 911.

Regards from Perth (Australia!)

Derek

17 August 2014 11:08  
Blogger Al DaValle said...

Konrad,

I have to say how happy I am that there folks out there like you! It's a real rarity to find a person as devoted to maintaining the art/craft of our past. And the best part is that you are able to make a living at your passion. You are a blessing. Well done!!

Al

19 August 2014 17:51  
Blogger sheldon delorme said...

Depending on how much you love the feel of your hammer vs how traditional you would like to keep it, a simple blacksmith trick I learned is to soak the head of the hammer in antifreeze. Something about how the glycol soaked into the fibers and then not leaveing. I'be seen a few hammers go through many many years of hard use and never developed so much as a wiggle. But keep in mind the trade... it will hold like you would not believe, even if you try to replace the handle... the only successful fix, I saw, was to leave it in the fire to burn it all out.

4 September 2014 23:19  

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Friday, 11 July 2014

introducing the K5 and K6



It has been a very long time since I have made 2 prototypes at one time. Actually - I am not sure if I have ever made 2 prototypes at one time. I suppose it was inevitable that a K5 and K6 would be made - I was just not sure when. A good friend and customer got the ball rolling.

I wanted to make a few changes to the K5 and K6 from their similarly sized No.4 versions. The K5 and XSNo.4 are similar and the K6 and SNo.4 are similar. In general, the K-series of planes are designed to be lighter in weight with improved ergonomics - especially in the rear infill. They are lower to the ground and have a wee bit less infill material.




The K5 is 5-1/2" long with a 1-1/2" wide blade. This one is infilled with African Blackwood - a wood that I have not used on a prototype for a long time (my A2 jointing plane from 2005). I had an over-sized set for a XSNo.4 that worked perfectly. It was really nice to work with African Blackwood again - such a hard, dense, stable true Rosewood that is much more complex in color and texture than Ebony. Plus it smells way better than Desert Ironwood. This plane has a V11 blade and a 52.5 degree bed angle.


 









The K6 is 6-1/4" long with a 1-5/8" wide blade. A little narrower than the SNo.4 and with an even more tapered footprint. This one is infilled with another Rosewood that I am not 100% sure about. It is not Brazilian Rosewood - it does not have that tell-tale smell, but it does not smell like Cocobolo either - the next obvious wood. I suspect it may be one of the many odd variants out there that does not really fall into any one category of Rosewood. No matter - it is stunning looking and very pleasant to work with.




It also has that wonderful black streak through it, running front to back. This is a characteristic most common in old growth Brazilian Rosewood but does show up in other Rosewoods from time to time. I have even seen it in old East Indian Rosewood - a rare find even in old growth let alone the more common plantation grown E.I. Rosewood.








I was able to take a few photos of the expanding family of planes, the K4, K5, K6 and K7. I am really pleased with how the family of planes look together. They graduate in size very nicely and while none of the planes are just scaled from one to the next, they look like they are.


























In other news, but related to the K-series of planes... Riley and I were doing some errands yesterday and spotted a new German auto shop just down the street from our house. There were 2 restored VW bugs and then whammo - a silver 1962 Porsche 356. I just about crashed the car as I cranked my neck to stare at it. We cut our errands short and took a short walk, camera in hand. I asked the shop owner if we could look at it and take a few photos. He was fine with it. I  have always loved vintage Porsche’s - 50’s, 60’s up to early 70’s. 911’s in particular, but the 356 is also dreamy. They are pure sculpture, no hard edges anywhere - just smooth flowing curves, one transitioning perfectly into the next. To my eyes - nothing can touch these cars aesthetically.












I am often asked where inspiration comes from. Seeing this car revealed a one word answer - Porsche.

14 Comments:

Blogger natejb said...

It's always amazing to me to see that rare design ability to perfectly dimension each piece. While the naked eye would suggest a simple mathematical scaling equation would do the trick, anyone who's designed anything so painstakingly as yourself knows that it's never that simple. Beautiful work. I will own one of your planes some day. I had a chance to use one at WIA 2013 and I think your planes share something in common with that Porsche 356 - pure sculpture yet peak performance and pure joy to use. You're designs are up there with Dieter Rams and Jony Ive in my opinion.

11 July 2014 15:07  
Blogger Steve Voigt said...

Konrad, those are great looking planes. I've admired the K4 for a while--I have to admit it was a direct inspiration for the first plane I ever sold. It's nice to see the line expanding. I'm a big fan of the 356 as well.

11 July 2014 15:33  
Blogger Steve Kirincich said...

K for Konrad?

11 July 2014 21:44  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Congratulations Konrad. That sequence of planes K series planes look fantastic. Lucky fellow that gets the K5 and K6. :)
Ohhhhh!!!!!! I don't know which I'm drooling over more the family of planes or the 356.
Great work.

14 July 2014 08:16  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks natejb - for the very kind comments and for recognizing that scaling a design is more complicated that a simple math equation. Nice to know you had a chance to try one as well.

Cheers,
konrad

14 July 2014 08:23  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Steve,

Being able to inspire someone to make their own planes is about as great a compliment one could get - glad it had that effect on your.

I am going to take another walk today and check out the 356 again... it is just too easy being 8 houses away:)

cheers,
konrad

14 July 2014 08:24  
Blogger Konrad said...

Yes Steve - K is for Konrad :)

cheers,
konrad

14 July 2014 08:24  
Blogger Konrad said...

Kevin - it is pretty easy for me - I have a drool bucket beside the 356. I am going to return again today to admire it some more. The lines on it are so complicated really - and free-formed. It is a staggering car.

My friend Richard reminded me that it would likely drive like a VW bug:)

cheers,
konrad

14 July 2014 08:26  
Blogger Tom @ Lumber Logs said...

As for automobile design aesthetics, it is at least as easy to gaze at an Austin-Healey, Jaguar E-type, or Jaguar Mark 2. Ferrari managed a few winners too; what they all have in common is the era: 1950s and 1960s.

16 July 2014 14:44  
Blogger Konrad said...

I am with you Tom - the 50s and 60s were an incredible time in design. There was a classic car show in our downtown last weekend and I loved seeing all the restored cars. There were two E-types - the show could have ended there. I have often thought that someone should bring back the hood ornament - there were some seriously stunning ones at the show.

cheers,
konrad

16 July 2014 17:45  
Blogger Chris Bame said...

Wow Konrad. Great job filling out the K series.The shots of them all lined up had me drooling.
Like the 356 but I'm a Corvette guy!!

18 July 2014 23:23  
Anonymous Derek Cohen said...

Hi Konrad

That plane is just insane with the African Blackwood! It is simply stunning! My compliments.

And, yes, the 356 is also special - curves that flow and go on forever. You have a very good eye.

I am still mourning selling my silver 1957 356A three years ago, after a 12 year restoration. Don't ask. It was replaced by another Porsche, however.

Regards from Perth

Derek
inthewoodshop.com

19 July 2014 07:05  
Blogger Konrad said...

Derek. First things first... you sold a 1957 356a... must have been one of those left arm or 356a conversations. I trust the replacement Porsche is a 1960's 911?

Glad you like the African Blackwood K5, but I am still thinking through the 356a... that one is going to take some time to digest:)

cheers,
konrad

19 July 2014 22:15  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Chris,

You can be a Corvette guy - I certainly won't hold it against you:) Do you have a favourite year? Do you like the classics or the new ones? Riley is generally a new power and performance guy - but he is starting to appreciate the lines and forms of the classics now too.

cheers,
konrad

20 July 2014 07:27  

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