Sunday, 20 December 2009

Making buns - a little more Mathieson and a dash of Norris

The front bun of the 28-1/2" A2 jointer has a few modifications to it. The “bun” portion has been pulled forward, which allows it to be lowered and creates an area just behind it for a thumb grip. I made a quick mock-up out of basswood - man is that stuff easy to work with! This forward and lowered bun is pretty typical of the Mathieson jointers I have seen.

I usually have an Ogee on the inside of the bun facing the lever cap (ala Spiers), but we wanted that inside ramp to be a bit steeper so it reached the sidewall before the small curve. This detail is typical of Norris. Softening that area is helpful when the back of the bun is used as a thumb hold.

Once the mock-up was done, I sent it to the client to make sure all the details were right. Everything was great so I proceeded with the real bun.

Shaping the bun uses quite a few tools. Fitting the block is done with handplanes - a few thou at a time. It has to be perfectly square - all other dimensions and measurements are referenced from these faces. Thankfully - I have a few decent planes to use. I use my bandsaw, tablesaw, lots of chisels and sandpaper to do the actual shaping. I do not use a router because very few of these profiles lend themselves to router bits, not to mention the idea of 20,000 rpm’s on dense brittle endgrain strikes me as an invitation for disaster. Plus, it would be really slow.

Here you can see the inside ramp and the transition area to the back of the bun.

Here are a bunch of photos of the fully shaped front bun. The next step is a dozen coats of french polish.

The french polishing went extremely well and the color and grain of the wood really came alive. At this stage, the infills and lever cap have been installed.

Next... lapping - aka abs of destruction part III.

One of the funny things about these massive planes is they are hard (for me) to photograph properly. Here is a quick photo to try to give a sense of scale.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Magnificent looking plane. Do people really use these massive infills? Looks like quite a workout.

20 December 2009 at 11:46  
Blogger Konrad said...


Believe it or not - they are actually quite comfortable to use. The key to the functionality is balance. They do not hang heavy in the toe - if they did - they would be a no-go. And yes - this one is going to be used.


20 December 2009 at 11:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's an uber-jointer if ever there was one Konrad, congrats on it's completion, most impressive.


20 December 2009 at 12:54  
Anonymous Narayan said...

Congrats, Konrad. You've just won the understatement of 2009 award:

"Thankfully - I have a few decent planes to use."

:) Happy holidays to you and the family. See you in 2010.

20 December 2009 at 14:10  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Narayan.

Happy Holidays to you and your family as well. Hi to Ray (I keep waiting for more ”Ray stories”).

Repeat after me (while clicking your heels 3 times) - “fishing in August, fishing in August, fishing in August”


20 December 2009 at 20:31  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Steve. Funny you called it the uber jointer - that is what the customer and I have been calling it too.

Best wishes,

20 December 2009 at 20:32  
Blogger matt@thuja said...

I've always wondered how you did your buns, they certainly look like they perfect enough to have been cut by a machine (or just a really good woodworker)!

Take it easy,


20 December 2009 at 20:57  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Matt. I will let you know the next time I am making one - I would be happy to show you.

Merry Christmas to you and Kate.

21 December 2009 at 08:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I love the way the side chamfers terminate at the transition from the bun to the throat. Another detail handled beautifully. I can't help thinking that would be a perfect sibling for my panel plane. Hmmmm?

Nice work. You've got another fortunate customer there.



21 December 2009 at 19:43  
Anonymous Tom said...

Wow, thats a huge jointer...and a lot of sweet rosewood. Im always amazed by your flawless shellac job on the planes. Do you do any grain filling on the rosewood?

On the subject of french polishing, kind of, i had a question for you about shellac. I think i remember you saying that you use flakes. What solvent do you use? I cant seem to find "denatured alcohol" on any shelves in canada, making me wonder what it is called here. Many big orange stores have methyl alcohol or methyl hydrate, do you know if this is the same, similar?

28 December 2009 at 21:06  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Tom,

I do not use any grain filler on the Rosewood - I have never needed to. By the 5th or 6th coat, most of the grain is already filled with french polish.

I use the solvent from Lee Valley. I usually pick up a container or two every other time I am there. I don’t think methyl hydrate is the same thing... but I am certainly not an expert on solvents. You could check with Bob Flexner - he has several good books on finishing.


28 December 2009 at 21:31  
Anonymous ChrisF said...

Tom, I've been able to find denatured alcohol at Shoppers Drug Mart. Go to the prescription counter and ask for it. It's available without prescription, but it's behind the counter (presumably to keep people from drinking it).

Other alcohols work fine, but evaporate at different speeds. Methyl alcohol (aka methanol or methyl hydrate) evaporates faster and is worse from a health perspective, isopropyl alcohol evaporates slower.

5 January 2010 at 13:43  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey Chris,

Thanks for jumping in and providing this information! I will head to Shoppers Drug mart next time.


5 January 2010 at 19:34  

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