Thursday, 23 July 2009

Hand work... glorious hand work!


I am finishing off a few A5’s right now, and thought a little “how-to” series might be interesting. My favourite aspect of planemaking (by far) is the shaping of the various infills. There are very few infill pieces that lend themselves to router bits or other mechanical shaping methods. And besides - shaping it by hand is way more fun. The front bun of an A5 is a perfect example.

The A5 in the above photo has just been lapped, the sides are fully shaped and the next step is to shape the bun.


Here are a few quick layout lines. The first radius I work on is the front one - connecting the line on top of the bun and the one of the front face. As I am rounding this over - I am watching the light reflect on the curve to help maintain a consistent curve. Once the front is done, I round over the edges - following the profile of the sidewall.



Here is a shot of the front rounded over as well as the sides. Note how rough the shaping is at this point. It is also fairly parallel to the overall shape of the sidewalls.



This photo shows the transition into more graceful complex curves. The front corners have been rounded over. They also “sag” a bit as is shown by the white layout line across the front - part of it is removed in the corners.


The coarse file marks are removed with a finer file - and the “sagging” corners can be seen a bit better in the bands of light reflecting off the bun.



Now the bun is fully shaped and sanded. From the fine file, I use 220 grit sandpaper, then 320, 400 and end with 600. The above photo shows the finish from 600 grit.




And close up shots to show the finished surface, as well as the organic compound curves to the bun.



And finally - a shot of the plane with the first coat of french polish on the bun and the overstuffed sides.

6 Comments:

Blogger Aled said...

You're starting to get it now, a few more planes, and you'll be quite good at this plane making business ;-)

Seriously, these "how to's" really are a testament to your skill and ability. Please keep them coming.

Cheers

Aled

27 July 2009 03:51  
Blogger tomausmichigan said...

Konrad

Thanks so much for the series on shaping the front bun. Fascinating to see the curves evolve and exciting to see whether or not the sapwood will remain!

My question is do you work the different sides by changing the file handle to different hands or do you do everything with the left hand? From the photos it doesn't look as if you turn the vise.

It is glorious hand work.


Tom

16 August 2009 05:26  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey Tom,

I have to admit - I did cut it pretty close with the sapwood. That is about as close as it has ever gotten... a bit nerve racking to be honest.

You are a very keen observer Tom. I am left handed but have spent many years trying to teach myself to use my right hand as well. I do as much file work with my left, but there are several instances where struggling with my right hand is worth it. It is slower, but it is accurate (at least!) There are one or two instances where I do turn the vice but for the most part, I usually just switch hands.

Thanks for your comments.
Best wishes,
Konrad

19 August 2009 21:01  
Blogger Ethan said...

Konrad,

As with anything else, practice makes perfect.

I'm probably pretty bad with both by now, but in college I could shoot pool left-handed almost just as well as I could right-handed. I trained myself to shoot both ways after I got tired of trying to shoot with the cue behind by back on poorly angled shots.

It took quite a few months, but a rarely-used good quality pool table (with hourly rates) in a small hotel bar helped. A few friends of mine would come with me and I'd shoot left-handed the whole time.

The concept isn't any different for learning how to file with your opposite hand (or how to cut dovetails with your proper hand, for that matter). Just takes time and practice.

Beautiful plane, by the way, though I don't see any problem with using sap wood. I think one can artistically take advantage of the contrast when used properly.

20 August 2009 12:01  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Aled,

Glad you are finding the how to's useful.

Cheers,
Konrad

20 August 2009 21:05  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Ethan,

I should have also mentioned that moulding planes force us sinister types down the right handed path. I have been using moulding planes for quite a few years and that practice certainly helped.

There have been a few instances where people have wanted some sapwood left on the finished plane. I will see if I can dig out some of the photos and post them. I agree that it can be used to great effect.

Cheers,
Konrad

20 August 2009 22:45  

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Saturday, 4 July 2009

Birds-eye boxwood


In August of 2008, I had an opportunity to acquire a very rare piece of wood - some Birds-eye boxwood. Finding real English boxwood is tough enough - but to find a piece of birds-eye is kinda like finding Rosewood burl.

The above lump has been sitting in the shop for almost a year and it was time to cut into it. What was even more astonishing is that it appeared that the “eyes” went all the way to the pith instead of disappearing 1/4" under the surface. This was one amazing piece of wood!




A close-up of some of the “eyes”.



The first cut is always the scariest - and the most exciting. This piece did not disappoint - the eye were more intense 1/4" in.



This was a very irregular piece - and I did my best to save as much wood as I could while still finding the infill sets I was after. The above book-match was really striking - and provided me with a lot of information about how to proceed. And on top of the birds-eye - there was some curl.



After a few hours of flipping the pieces over, outlining parts, erasing parts, taking a small cut here and there - I had 3 sets roughed out. There are two sets for XSNo.4’s and a set for a SNo.4. There are still a few really good sized pieces left over for other small plane parts.



Here is a shot of the top of the rear infill for the SNo.4. This set is going in an all steel version - an SNo.4ss.

The toughest part now is going to be the waiting.

10 Comments:

Blogger tomausmichigan said...

Konrad

That boxwood is amazing! I didn't know it even existed.

I showed your site to a friend, 84 years old, in the trades his whole life, and he said: 'He must have hands of gold.'

Tom

5 July 2009 17:33  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Tom,

It was a pretty amazing find. I did not think it existed either... until I started scraping off the moss and bark. The surface looked pretty weird and then I realized what it was.

Best wishes,
Konrad

5 July 2009 17:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Konrad,
Would you comment on grain alignment for the infill pieces? I am assuming that grain lines perpendicular to the sole would provide the greatest stability. I figure that my boxwoods will ready for harvesting in another 100 years. Thanks.

Steve

11 July 2009 21:53  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Steve,

Yes - grain lines perpendicular to the sole would be the most stable. That being said - very old, well seasoned Dalbergias do not really do anything. My experience has been grain direction is not as crucial when using these woods.

Cheers,
Konrad

12 July 2009 07:33  
Anonymous Jolyon Reynolds said...

hi Konrad,
first how are you and are you going to be at westonbirt again this year!!! second its amazing to see what you are doing with the boxwood I look forward to seeing a finished plane, and thirdly I still have a piece of the boxwood If you like I can take it to the show or send it over.
regards Jolyon Reynolds.

19 July 2009 12:45  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Jolyon,

Great to hear from you! We are all doing well over here - just finishded up Riley's football (soccer) tournement. They made it to the semi-finals.

I don't think I will be able to make Westonbirt this year - but there is another show in Sept that I am hoping to make it for. I will keep you posted.

Thanks for the offer of the second piece - I would love to take you up on it! Once I have my plans for September sorted out we can decide then.

I trust all is well at your end?

Warmest wishes,
Konrad

19 July 2009 14:20  
Blogger tomausmichigan said...

Konrad

My neighbor just cut down a white oak and within two hours it had started checking. How did they dry that boxwood (or that african blackwood log you cut up earlier) without checks running all through the wood? Its a mystery to me.

Tom

24 July 2009 21:06  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Tom,

Did your neighbor coat the endgrain with something (old latex paint or endgrain sealer)?

The boxwood had be cut down some time ago - I suspect it was sitting around for at least a year before I got to it. England is not known for its dry climate - which was a real advantage in this case. It did check a bit when I returned home, but I covered the endgrain with some expired white glue and that really slowed it down.

I have no idea how the blackwood was prepared. It was a very old lump for sure - and I suspect it just sat somewhere for decades and dried very slowly.

Cheers,
Konrad

24 July 2009 22:33  
Blogger tomausmichigan said...

Konrad

Another wood question: Would Satinwood be stable and hard enough for an infill plane? It is gorgeous stuff.

16 August 2009 05:37  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Tom,

I am not sure about satinwood. There is a very fine toolmaker in the Boston area - Bob Baker - and I know he has used solid satinwood for a plow plane (or two). It certainly is stunning material for sure. Come to think of it - I do not recall ever seeing a piece large enough for an infill... guess I will have to start looking for one!

Best wishes,
Konrad

19 August 2009 21:03  

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