Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The ‘we can do this’ plane


Joe Steiner stopped by the other night to continue working on a plane he is making for himself. He commented on the previous blog post and the first planes we each made and how magical that experience was. This lead to talking about our early beginnings and all the challenges and excitement we both felt. It was really great to reminisce - there were a few details I had forgotten about. 

One thing I asked Joe was if he remembered the plane that stopped us in our tracks when we had finished it. He answered right away, and it was the same plane I had recalled. That plane was for our third customer and went to California. That plane, an A6, was significant on many levels. 




It was the first plane we made using old, stunning wood (and it was not Cocobolo). This plane marked the beginning of a career long obsession with finding the finest infill materials possible - working with this wood was just that inspiring.

It was a plane we were shipping to someone across the continent, and was commissioned by someone we had not met in person. It felt like a monumental project - it was a monumental project. There was immense pressure of getting it just right along with a deep sense of gratitude towards our customer and the risk he was taking with us. 




That plane has an identical twin - my own A6.  This pair of planes have several important first. These were the first adjusters we used - were made by Ray Iles in England.

They have bronze sides - as opposed to brass. The lever cap screws are also much more refined with much better knurling and overall shape.




The handle shaping had essentially been finalized and has not changed since, although the K-series of planes represents another evolution.











This plane has an 01 tool steel sole - we spent the extra money and started using a more appropriate steel than mild steel.




We continued to try different bed angles - in this case, 47.5 degrees. This is often called a ‘Norris pitch’ because Norris used this bed angle splitting the difference between the common pitch at 45 degrees and the 50 degree ‘York pitch’.



The sidewall profile also changed and the shaping of the front bun started getting better, both ergonomically and aesthetically.



We had always stamped the bed with a serial number and a maple leaf ( a stamp purchased from Lee Valley) and Joe and I started using our own unique serial numbers for our own planes. KP-12-03 stands for ‘Konrad’s Plane, No.12, made in 2003’.




One of the challenges with adding an adjuster was positioning the lever cap so there was enough clearance for the blade and lever cap to be removed from the banjo or cup. The head of the screw in the cap iron is captured in the banjo and is what allows the adjuster to move the blade and cap iron as shown below.



When Joe and I finished this customers plane, we sat on my workbench and just stared at it. Neither of us spoke for several minutes. I am not sure who spoke first, nor what exactly was said, but with this plane, we both knew we could do this - and do it well.

5 Comments:

Blogger Bartee said...

What a GREAT story. I always read your blog. It is so personal at some levels.

You are one of a group of tool makers who truly make a difference.

Thanks.

11 November 2014 11:55  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Bartee - for the very kind comments and the encouragement.

cheers,
konrad

11 November 2014 11:59  
Blogger Tom Fidgen said...

Great story-; )
thanks Konrad.

11 November 2014 15:02  
Blogger Chris Bame said...

And they keep getting better and better.
Proud to say I own one!
Great post Konrad

Cheers Chris

12 November 2014 10:03  
Anonymous Wiley Horne said...

That A6 was my first infill plane. It turned out to be a wonderful adventure, because Konrad (and Joe at that time) customize every tool. I felt--and was-- engaged in the process all the way. He had me scan a palm impression, so he could get the tote just right. Then there was the infill wood, the bedding angle, the side metal to choose, the mouth gap, the choice of steel for the iron--all customer choice. Progress photos every week or two. The excitement builds. You get bonded to the plane while it's still being fabricated. I like that Konrad kept the twin.

Years later, it's a fabulous plane. It always will be. Built for many lifetimes of use.

For me, it was the 'I need another one' plane--a 16-1/2" blackwood panel plane, also at Norris pitch. Magnificent! I'm looking at the two of them right now. Over the years, there were more adventures to come, yet the first planes were never outshone by the later ones. They're all the best.

Wiley

16 November 2014 17:59  

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Sunday, 2 November 2014

P-01 - the first plane



It was interesting to pull the first plane down from the shelf and look at it again after so many years. Part of me was aghast at how primitive it is - but I was also able to look at it and be a little proud too. For a first plane - it was not bad. Better than ‘not bad’ I suppose - this effort is what encouraged me (and Joe) into plane making, and was good enough ‘right outta the box’ that it was comparable to my first infill - an unhandled Spiers coffin shaped smoother. I can still remember installing the blade at 3am and taking that first terrifying shaving. I don’t think I slept that night out of excitement of actually making my own plane!





The sole and sides are mild steel - a horrible material for planemaking really. The metal deforms like crazy, it is very prone to rusting when compared with 01 tool steel, and does not look so great. There are only 2 benefits - it is really inexpensive, and very malleable... but for anyone interested in making a plane for themselves - please, spend the extra money and use 01 tool steel.

The blade is 2-1/4" wide and at a 45 degree bed angle. I think this is one of only a couple planes I ever made at 45 degrees. I did not make the cap iron, but I cannot recall where it came from. 




The plane is infilled with Cocobolo. At the time, that was all Joe and I could find. And we got really, really lucky with this piece of Cocobolo. I bought it from Unicorn Hardwoods in Toronto - I don’t think they are in business any longer. It was a rather large piece that was sitting on their showroom floor. It was dusty and pretty crappy looking. I picked it up not because I knew any better or how to evaluate the age of a piece of wood... it was simply the only piece we could afford.

I say lucky because it was fairly dry. Again - we did not really know any better - but it has shrunk surprisingly little in the 14 years I have had it - other early Cocobolo prototypes have not fared so well.




If you look closely at the above photo, or click on it for a larger view, you can see the shrinkage to the front bun. Not too bad considering we had no idea how important old, dry wood was!





The lever cap was cast at a small foundry in Cambridge Ontario - I am not sure if they are in business either. They did a decent job, but had a tough time being consistent with color over the years, so I eventually switched to using solid bronze stock.

The screw is the most embarrassing part of the plane - not even knurled! The threads are terrible too - a regular V-thread as opposed to the ACME thread I use now.





Overall, the plane is not overly refined, but there are several things about it that I recognize as good early decisions, and are still present in my current work.

The first one is the relationship between the screw and the lever cap. There is roughly 1/3 of visible threads below the lever cap (contacting the cap iron), and 2/3 above. This may not seem like a big deal, but in my mind it is. It just looks nicer. It looks more secure - more tidy. And is way easier to ensure positive contact across the front edge of the lever cap when they are kept close together. Along those lines is the tip of the lever cap screw. It should be rounded over so it does not dig into the cap iron and start to cam out.




The other aspect is the shape of the handle. I can remember spending hours and hours shaping this one - I had never shaped a handle before. This one still feels pretty good. There have been quite a few little changes over the years, but this first handle still feels pretty nice.



The front bun is really uninteresting, and compared to the front bun on a recent plane, this one looks really crude.



The piening went well enough that there were not any gaps between the dovetails. That was a big relief and looking back on it, I think I got fairly lucky right out of the gate.

Oh, one other issue with mild steel - it is fairly soft and scratches much quicker than 01 tool steel.





The fit of the rear infill and shell is still holding up quite well - there is a little shrinkage in the infill, but not too bad.




The fit of the overstuffed infill on the radius is pretty good too. This first one took hours and hours to get just right.




P-02-02 - the second plane. There were several changes to this one. The most obvious being the brass sides. I was very interested to see what was happening during the piening process and using 2 different metals allowed me to see exactly how things were moving around. I also liked the idea of seeing the joints and construction of the plane.



This one also has a 2-1/4" wide blade, but the bed angle is 50 degrees - a ‘York pitch’.




It also has a new cap iron with a soldiered brass nut for the screw.





The Cocobolo infill came from the same block as the first plane and has also had surprisingly little shrinkage.



This plane taught me that piening 360 brass is not fun. It chips and work hardens very quickly... and it does not patina well.




This handle is a little nicer than the first plane - the shape is a little more consistent and fluid and overall nicer in the hand. 


 


The lever cap screw is now knurled (not very well mind you) and the screw has ACME threads.






Both planes have nice tight mouths on them - something I still firmly believe in.




There were several other early planes that Joe and I made that did not make it out of the shop - a few more steel sided smoothers, a couple panel planes and a jointing plane. There were constant improvements at an exponential rate.

There was one early plane that really stands out for me - a plane for a customer in California. After we finished it, we just sat on my bench and stared at it - almost surprised at what we had done. With that plane, we knew we could do this. I will post photos of that planes identical twin a little later on.



10 Comments:

Blogger raney said...

Fascinating to see the origin planes, Konrad. I agree - there's a lot to be really proud of on these, nearly a decade and a half on. The peining was the part that really caused me the most grief early on, and your attempts are much much better than mine.

More interesting to me personally is the design vocabulary. These are certainly not nearly as evolved as they became over the next 10 years, but I can already see in the sidewalls what they would be refined into. The front-heavy lean, relatively high recess behind the front bun, and the subtle radius at the elbow behind the bed. These are all things I can still see in your later 4, 5, and 6 series planes.

What I most notice, though, is that visual 'lean' you managed to get on these. Really well balanced, and honestly I can almost see how these eventually led to the K series bursting out of your brain. I think pulling off the degree of lean in the K series is something, design-wise, that you could only have done after a decade of refinement, but I can see the predilections in these early planes too.

Good for you for having the stones to put these up. I think it's hard sometimes to air early attempts (I know I've kept a lot of planes out of the sunlight) but it really is a great exercise to look at this. I'm not sure I can completely 'see' how amazing the designs would end up, but even P-01 and 02 are really in rarefied territory design-wise.

I also agree - the totes are spectacular. I think the base join to the rear infill looks a little light for my tastes, but I also know that is true with every open-toted plane I've seen. Yours looks pretty comparable to a Norris 2 and the Mathieson's if memory serves.

I much prefer the closed totes (and I suspect you do too).

Thanks again for showing these. Maybe I'll pull a few of mine out of the graveyard for my blog one of these days. If I still have em, that is...

2 November 2014 17:39  
Blogger Carl Jara said...

Amazing to see your own progression isn't it? Thanks for sharing this with us!

2 November 2014 23:09  
Blogger John said...

Boo hoo about the glitches in your first effort. It's still an awesome piece of work and a display of genuine talent! Now I am truly embarrassed that I emailed you a photo of the first plane I tried to make. I think I'll go hide under a rock for awhile.

3 November 2014 17:52  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Thanks for sharing this, I'm amazed to see your planes evolution and roots. These first planes would be something any galoot would be smug to have in their arsenal, but unsurprisingly a decade+ of focused practice has taken you way past a very respectable square one (the tool scene was a lot different back then) and on to world-class. I have an interest in tool making and have made a few pieces (including my latest project), but can see the only way to become top-notch is to turn up the volume (pieces) and continually one-up your last attempt.

4 November 2014 09:26  
Blogger Kevin Brehon said...

I hope that my first infill (if it ever happens) can come remotely close to what you did. I agree with Raney that there are similarities to later planes that you have made. These originals just seem a little unfinished compared to later versions. It makes me wonder, does the effort that went into these first planes feel like more or less than your current planes?

6 November 2014 21:57  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey Raney,

Thanks for your comments. We have talked about plane design countless times over the years, but this is the first time about our first work. I appreciate your insights and what you 'see'.

Like you - I am a firm believer in closed totes. They are stronger but almost more importantly, they don't flex and loose power or the tactile feedback we all enjoy from our tools. I am always stunned when I see open handles still being made today.

now back to work!

cheers,
k

11 November 2014 10:21  
Blogger Konrad said...

thanks Carl - absolutely agree - always interesting to go back and revisit early efforts.

cheers,
konrad

11 November 2014 10:22  
Blogger Konrad said...

Yes John.... poor me:)

Don't be embarrassed about your first plane - you got over the fist hurdle - which is also the largest one... just trying. And for the record, your first plane is great. It looks good and it works - it does not need to be anything more than that.

cheers,
konrad

11 November 2014 10:24  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Jeremy,

You are right - 10 years of constant building and studying the same forms over and over again takes its tole - in a good way. One-uping (is that even a word?) is what it is all about really. It is also important to see other peoples work - and people who you feel are better than you are. It can be depressing because you then know how much further you have to go - but also very inspirational too.

good luck turning up the volume.

cheers,
konrad

11 November 2014 10:27  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Kevin,

First planes are very inconsistent and are often not a good indicator or where someone will end up. I have seen some pretty amazing first planes and some seriously dogs breakfast planes. Some of those great efforts do not improve too much over subsequent planes - and some dogs breakfasts evolve very fast. The thing to avoid is continually making dogs breakfasts, and the key to avoiding that is learning to see and being critical of ones own work.

cheers,
konrad

11 November 2014 10:29  

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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.


18 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  
Blogger Owen Crane said...

Oh boy. Devastating. Although an important lesson I suppose - rookie mistake to think I was going to buy a piece of wood and dive right into it. I called back the place I bought it from and it's apparently indian... (diospyrus ebenum).

It was a little 3" x 3" by 12" block, only waxed on the ends. And it came in at bloody 30% MC. It also already has a small check in the end that I was hoping to be able to get rid of, but I'm pretty worried now. It was the only block in the pile that wasn't totally ruined by checking. Also, in my haste, I wanted to see how bad the check was, and whether I would be able to clean it up and get my 2" blade - so I've already surfaced it all 4 sides...although I didn't touch the wax yet. How bad is this sounding? I've left it at my friends shop, as he has a much better setup and keeps his heat regulated - I still don't have heat in my shop yet. Do you think I should try to shellac or oil it or something to undo some of the damage I've probably done by milling it and exposing fresh wood?

How long do you think I'll be waiting for this thing to come down from 30% ? 6 months - year?

Man it's tough starting out - very envious that you are well into your cycle so you have stuff you can work with while you wait :-P

Thanks again for all your help, it's very much appreciated.
Owen

21 October 2014 16:25  
Blogger Konrad said...

If it is any consolation Owen - every one of us has run into this at some point - it is inevitable.

Shellac the sides you dressed and see what happens. It will still dry with the shellac on it - but it will slow it down. 30% at 3" thick will take about 30 years. I know that sounds insane - but it was the 'rule' I was given by a very good friend who is a retired furniture maker who specialized in working with exotic woods (Rosewoods and Ebony). The general rule is 1 year per inch of thickness for air drying domestic woods - his rule for exotics was 10 years per inch of thickness.

If you know what you want to do with it, you could cut it down into fairly close dimensions (oversized 1/8" would be good) and then shellac it and let it sit on a shelf. No point in waiting 30 years for the full 3" to dry if you only need a 2" piece.

cheers,
konrad

21 October 2014 19:01  
Blogger John said...

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We will discontinue any further discourse if no further mention of this distressing behavior appears on these page.

21 October 2014 23:41  

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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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