Tuesday, 20 July 2010

My first real injury

At 8:15 am on Saturday July the 10th, I sustained my first serious woodworking injury. Actually - my first serious injury of any kind. I have never broken a bone, and other than this injury - had not needed hospital care other than to be born.

I was home by myself for the week - Jill and the boys were at a week long children’s camp and I was using the time to log some serious shop hours. Everything was going great until Saturday morning - the day they were to return home. I was fitting the rear infill of an A5 - something I have done dozens of times when something new happened - total wood failure. I was holding a chisel in my left hand and taking a very small paring cut on the shoulder of the rear infill when the wood blew out. Suddenly there was no wood between the chisel and the tip of my right index finger - so it proceeded to drive in all the way to the first knuckle. It was a rather shocking experience. My first three thoughts were,

“it is still attached, I can still wiggle my finger and how am I going to get to the hospital?”

I ran down the stairs (turned the lights off on my way down) and out into the front yard (drip, drip, drip) to see if any of our neighbours were home. The van was in the drive across the street, so I ran over. Thankfully they were home. I then realized I did not have my health card with me.

Run back home (drip, drip, drip).

And run back again ((drip, drip, drip).

We arrived at the hospital in great time, were checked in very quickly and took a seat to wait. When they unwrapped and washed my had, I felt a bit woozie - so they put me on a gurney just to be safe. This was the point at which everything started to register and the waiting became a serious mental exercise in keeping it all together. I was hopeful that I had not severed any tendons, but I did not really know what my finger looked like or if anything was broken or if the bone had been damaged.

Finally they called my name to see a doctor. They took a look at it and asked what I had cut myself with - “it was an incredibly clean cut”. I told them a very good chisel (I am sure there must have been a bit of a smile on my face at the time). I had cut my finger from the very tip down to the first knuckle - the chisel was wide enough that it had cut through the top and bottom and I was left with a very large “flap”. They decided they should X-ray it just to be safe. I waited a few minutes and then Scott showed up, a young guy with a friendly smile - he immediately put me at ease. On my ride to the x-ray room he asked;

S - “so how did you cut your finger?”

K - “A chisel”

S - “oh, are you a woodworker?”

K - “yes - kinda. I make woodworking hand planes”

S - “cool. I just bought one from Lee Valley. It was really expensive - but works great”

K - “Yeah - they make great stuff. What type of work did you buy the plane for?”

S - “I make guitars and I needed a good tool to smooth and shape the fingerboards”

K - “Oh. Do you have a hard time finding Rosewood for the fingerboards?”

I swear the gurney stopped and his face slowly appeared upside down above my own.

S - “pardon?”

I repeated the question which resulted in a great distracting conversation for the rest of the ride to and from the x-ray room. Scott - feel free to call anytime.

A little while later the nurse practitioner came back to confirm that the tendons were fine and there was no damage to the bone. Needless to say - I was incredibly relived. At this time, I felt I should divulge that this was my first injury (ever) and that I was a bit squeamish. Her bedside manner was incredible and she put me at ease and helped keep my very calm throughout the entire process.

The pair of freezing needles in my finger hurt the most and the actual stitching went very well. She explained everything as she went and did an exceptional job of keeping me engaged in distracting conversation.

I was home by 12 noon.

While I was in the hospital waiting - one of the many fears that creeped in was the condition of the rear infill of the A5 I had been fitting. I honestly had no idea what had happened and if it was totally destroyed or it if would be repairable. The handle had been fully shaped and the adjuster slot had been fit - so it was quite far along. One of the first things I did when I got home was check to see what it looked like;



I found that big chip 5' away from where it happened. Miraculously - the only damage to the handle was a small chip out of the corner and a small scratch on the inside. Both of which are easily repairable... so the handle is still usable. I will need to sand out the blood spatter too.



Here is the chisel and a few drips.



And my bandaging from the hospital. I should also mention that the injury was to my right hand - thankfully I am a lefty.

Here are a few photos of the finger on day 3;








And day 10 right after the stitches were removed.







The doctor who removed the stitches was shocked at how quickly and how well everything had healed up. She told me to keep it covered but I could return to work as long as I keep it clean and used any discomfort and pain as indicators of what I could and could not do.

I have been writing this entry over the last few days - now that I have a bit of perspective on everything, and to be quite frank - now that I feel like I am out of the woods.

Looking back on the last 12 days - there are a few things that stand out and really are the reason for this post.

For all the complaining about our health care system I have to say - I was completely impressed with the care during my emergency experience. I realize that while this was a crisis for me, the ER staff experience stuff like this each and every day. What was so incredible to me was their capacity to treat me like a person, spend a few minutes getting to know me, to put me at ease and care for me as if I were a member of their family. It takes a very special person to have those gifts, and I felt like I was surrounded by them. My deepest thanks and gratitude to Corina, Scott and the rest of the amazing people at Grand River Hospital.

There have been quite a few other people who helped out over the last 12 days. To Rod and Lisa for getting me to and from the hospital, Dr. Dietrich (aka Voodoo) and Joanne for all the care, insight, and laser treatments, to Mrs. Hare - the other witchdoctor in my life for keeping the whole system running smoothly and to Maria for enjoying lacerations even when she is on maternity leave, to my parents and our friends who stepped in to help keep me distracted. And to Jill, Riley and Lucas. Who helped keep me calm, helped wash my back, and knew just when I needed a hug.

Lastly - there is a safety side to all this. I have always had a very healthy fear of power tools, but have always been very comfortable with hand tools. I am always telling Riley and Lucas to be aware of where their hands are when they are working and to anticipate what would happen if something went wrong. I spent the first several days playing this event back in my head, looking for what I did wrong. Part of it really was a bit of a freak accident - but I also need to take responsibility for it and alter the way I work to avoid something like this again. I was also very lucky that my neighbours were home - I do not know what I would have done otherwise. When Joe and I started making planes we would often work into the wee hours of the night - something I do not do very often, but again - if something serious were to happen, no one would find me until it was too late. So please - enjoy your woodworking, have a plan in case something happens and do not work during or after you have enjoyed a pint.

My friend Raney reminded me of a warning posted by Lie Nielsen;

“Warning: Sharp chisels are dangerous and should be handled with care. Dull chisels are even more dangerous and should be sharpened.”

I think that about sums it up.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to hear that you are healing well.
Reminds me of my worst woodworking injury, also hand tool, in which a dozuki went 'sideways' on me and nearly went through my index finger to the bone opening up a large flap.

I'm going to go home and re-sharpen all my chisels tonight :-)

Probably not a bad idea to put a reminder in your blog that as a Canadian, you got good health care without having to mortgage your house or paying a fortune in insurance.
(although politics are not really needed in a woodworking forum, sometimes a gentle reminder is not a bad idea)

26 July 2010 at 11:47  
Blogger Jameel said...

Welcome to the club Konrad! I won't share the grisly details of my injury many years ago (2" Forstner bit into the left thumb) but you should feel good about one thing, it wasn't stupidity that caused your injury, unlike mine, which I actually knew was going to happen and did it anyway. Don't feel bad about getting whoozy either. I turned white when I first looked at my thumb too. But you're right, those pain-numbing needles were much more painful that the injury itself. Thank God it wasn't worse. Heal well...

26 July 2010 at 11:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see that the injury is healing well, Konrad. Look after yourself.

Cheers ;-)

Paul Chapman

26 July 2010 at 13:10  
Blogger benito said...

Gaaaahhhhh!
Brutal.
Don't worry about being squeamish. I had stitches literally 7 or 8 times before I was 10 years old, and then gave myself a reprieve for about 2 decades--as an older person, the procedure was much, much worse than I remembered, to the point that I almost passed out. Perhaps the recognition of mortality that we call wisdom.
At any rate, glad to hear you're healing up well.

26 July 2010 at 14:31  
Blogger teal and gold said...

glad to hear you're recovering well. I work in the shop alone as well, my wife isn't a big fan of this and always runs me through worst case scenarios.

-tyler

26 July 2010 at 14:47  
Blogger matt@thuja said...

Glad to hear you're healing up and that your hospital time was brief...My knuckle had a similar experience with my marking knife last year...those Japanese do make good cutting edges eh ;)

Matt

26 July 2010 at 16:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a sad right of passage, but I think you can now call yourself a real woodworker...

I have a couple, how you say, souvenirs of bad judgment that are a daily reminder to pay attention.

Take care,

Eric in Nova Scotia

26 July 2010 at 19:45  
Anonymous JERM said...

Glad the finger has healed so nicely. I can tell you have not been injured that much as you did not immediately wipe the blood drips off the wood =)

26 July 2010 at 21:18  
Blogger The Hartley's 3 said...

Glad to hear you are on the mend. I as well have had my share of finger injuries. Good reminder of the sharp chisel being dangerous only less than the dull ones. I need to sharpen next time I'm in the shop.

Aric

27 July 2010 at 00:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you're OK. I did a similar thing with a LN chisel across my first knuckle last year... no needles! They superglued mine! I kid thee not. It stayed on for maybe 4 days and then came off but it was enough to heal the wound.

I have been teaching my wife the way of the woodworker... Rule #1 never,ever bleed on the wood!
Rule #2 no crying either on or off the wood!

Heal fast - John Keeling

27 July 2010 at 14:22  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks everyone for you well wishes and comments. In a sick and twisted sort of way - it is nice to know may others have injured themselves and come out the other end.

Jameel... a 2" forstner bit... Really? Yikes - that must have been one ugly mess my friend!

Benito - you are right - it was a reminder of mortality.

Tyler - if our wives ever meet we are in serious trouble!

Matt - if I had to be injured by one of my tools, I am glad it was a Japanese chisel and not the table saw:)

Jerm,
Funny thing about the blood drips. They came off the bench and the plane quite easily - very little staining (I was almost sad it came off so easily).

John - I guess I broke rule number one in spades... but splatter is a little hard to control.

Thanks everyone,
Konrad

27 July 2010 at 20:31  
Anonymous Steve said...

Glad to hear you're on the mend Konrad, and not looking at any long term problems with the finger. Congrats on making the club!

Cheers,
Steve

28 July 2010 at 22:20  
Blogger David said...

Good to hear that every thing went well in you miss shape! It's amazing how clean a cut a chisel can do... Compare to a table saw... Or worst a chain saw!! glad to hear that you are recovering well!
Cheers

29 July 2010 at 00:53  
Blogger Adrian Baird Ba Than said...

First injury in your late 30's that's impressive!
I've had a few close calls but nothing as gruesome as that,at least not workshop related...
Whenever I injure myself I'm reminded of the words of Lance Murdock,
"Wounds heal & chicks dig scars!"
I like your advice about not working after even 1 beer,I'm sure a lot of workshop incidents occur because people are too relaxed.I believe in a healthy fear of anything sharp,electrical or carbohydrate powered,it only takes a nanosecond of distraction for disaster to strike!
Take care brother,
Black

2 August 2010 at 13:26  
Anonymous Al DaValle said...

Ouch!!! Been there and done that. I'm glad your avoided serious injury.

Warm regards,
Al

3 August 2010 at 13:50  
Blogger lisa said...

I know we live just across the street but I never did get to see the stitches; they look awesome! I'm still sad that I never got to see them get installed.

13 August 2010 at 12:59  
Blogger Tim Raleigh said...

You're lucky.
I cut the heel of my hand sharpening a chisel. It wasn't serious but it does give me a renewed respect for taking breaks.
It was the first accident I have had woodworking but scares the crap out of you.
Every time I visit your site I am amazed by your work - your products and your site.
Thanks for sharing.
Take care.
Tim

9 September 2010 at 19:42  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks for the very kind comments about the site and my work Tim. And really glad to hear that your first injury was not too serious. I am still taking a few extra seconds to re-think everything in the shop these days. I guess I am still a bit gun-shy.

Cheers,
konrad

9 September 2010 at 20:03  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

up & down - bevels that it

A few weeks ago, I was doing some site work - some inlay in a Mahogany staircase. I had to inlay twelve flame Birch panels into the stair treads. They were left a little over-sized in thickness and then planed flush with the treads once they were installed. For anyone who has ever worked with flame birch - you are likely cringing right now because you know what kind of nightmare flame birch can be to work with. Lots and lots of honing.

There were three planes in my line-up that were suited to this work; the XSNo.4 smoother, the SNo.4 smoother and my LN block plane. They are all narrow and nimble planes and were able to follow and maintain the gentle curvature of the solid treads.

The reason for this post is not to start a war - but to show the different wear on working tools. I used the SNo.4 and the block plane to do the lions share of the work, and then finished up with the XSNo.4 set to take a very fine shaving. The XS is the smallest and most nimble in the bunch. All three planes performed their task wonderfully, but this experience reminded me of why I developed the XSNo.4 in the first place. I wanted a one handed (and very small) smoother that was in a bevel down (BD), high bed angle configuration. I was frustrated with the location of the wear on my bevel up (BU) block plane. Before I get too far into it - here are a few photos of the blade of the SNo.4 smoother (BD) and the block plane (BU).

Oh, - I should also explain a bit of how I sharpen. Both blades are hollow ground to about a 34 degree angle, the backs are flat, and there are no micro bevels or “ruler trick” back bevels.


(click on any of the images for a larger view)


The BD smoother blade on the left and the BU block plane blade on the right. Notice the amount of wear to the back side of the cutting edge on the BU blade.




Here is the bevel side of the BU block plane blade. Notice there is significantly less “wear” to the cutting edge.




The “back” of the iron of the BD blade.



And the bevel side of the BD blade.

So here is my observation based on using these two planes - they both required frequent re- honing, but the blade of the BU block plane required a lot more work to get it to a freshly honed state. I had to re-grind before each honing in order to get rid of the wear to the “back” (the flat side) of the iron which saw more wear than the bevel side. The bevel down blade seemed to have a similar amount of wear to each side and was less effort to re-hone because of it.

If anyone has any insight into what I might be able to do to reduce the amount of wear to the “back” of the BU iron - I would love to hear it. Or if people have had similar experiences with any BU vs BD planes I would love to hear from you as well.

31 Comments:

Blogger matt@thuja said...

I got to see those stairs last weekend and they looked great. I was wondering how much honing you had to do because that was a lot of planing (and in an awkward, non-benchtop type position to boot). The only thing I can think of with regard to BU vs BD is that the wear on any blade is due to hard particles that aren't being cleanly cut...the lower blade angle of the "back" of the blade (the side against the bed of the plane) for a BU plane would mean the hard particles would drag through more metal than in the BD plane. This would make the back of the blade in a BU plane have a longer wear region than a BD. I think that makes sense from a geometry point of view at least, but I think I need a diagram ;)

Matt

19 July 2010 at 15:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could it be that you are not comparing apples to apples?

Your LN is bedded at 12 degrees (low angle)? But the smoother is what 50-55? less the 34 degree bevel means there is 16 - 20 degrees relief behind the bevel.

Like Matt said "a longer wear region than a BD"

Eric in Nova Scotia

19 July 2010 at 19:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fiber spring-back. That is the issue for any cutting tool whether cutting wood, metal or tomatoes.

There is simply more contact against the relief side of a cutting tool as the material is being cut on a low-angle cutting tool.

There is nothing that can be done about it in the sense of stopping it.

This applies to bevel up or down planes equally. For instance, one can own (I do) a bevel down strike block plane that has a relatively low bedding angle (I think mine is 38 deg). The bevel side--which is down in this instance--will wear more quickly than a higher-angle bedded plane.

The only mitigation is to be aware of this fiber spring-back and hone more frequently on a BU plane or a BD plane with a low bedding angle.

Take care, Mike

21 July 2010 at 09:16  
Anonymous Pitonyak said...

Although I cannot disagree with previous comments, I keep staring at the pictures that I drew and thinking that something seems off. You do not mention that actual values used, but, one poster specifically uses values such as 12 degrees bedding and mentions a 34 degree bevel. I assumed, therefore, a 34 degree bevel on the blade and then a bedding angle of 54 degrees for the high angle BD and 12 degrees for the low angle BU.

Now, push the plane into the shaving. There are forces pushing into the blade. With a lower effective angle, lower, so I expect less force directly into the blade.

21 July 2010 at 12:00  
Anonymous Derek Cohen said...

Hi Konrad

While spring back is expected to contribute to a larger wear bevel of a BU plane (vs a BD plane), I have never see wear like your blade. I am assuming that the LN is A2 steel? How much use? Frankly this is not even a case of comparing apples with oranges (the 12 degree BU blade and a york pitch BD blade) to achieve meaningful results - that amount of wear is bizarre.

I am in the process of researching the wear on different types of steels (O1, A2, CPM 3V, and a few others) in BU and BD planes, and this includes evaluating BU blade configurations at different bed angles (in this case, 12- and 25 bed degrees) to judge the degree of wear on the back of the blade. One of the tests recently has been using different cutting angles on a 12 degree bed on a shooting board. At no time, following repeated planings (such as 100 full shavings on a West Australian hardwood in each session), did I approach wear on the back of the blade that resembled your picture (which is why I wonder what else is going on there). In fact, using magnification as high as 200X I cannot find any signs of a wear bevel at all after 100 shavings, and this using A2 steel (the same as the LN block plane).

Mmmm ... interesting.

Regards from Perth

Derek

22 July 2010 at 01:08  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Matt,

Ooh - I have to go and take some photos of the finished staircase!

Thanks for your comments - they seem to be shared by many.

Cheers,
Konrad

22 July 2010 at 07:54  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Eric. I am not comparing apples to apples in the sense that the planes are totally different. But... they are both touted as excelling at this type of work - and one clearly requires more work to maintain than the other. I totally agree that the clearance angle is the issue here - but it does beg the question - why use a BU plane for heavy stock removal if it results in greater effort to maintain the cutting edge?

Cheers,
Konrad

22 July 2010 at 07:57  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Mike,

Fiber spring-back. Thanks for mentioning this. I had not really considered it (maybe wrongly too). but you seem to have concluded the same thing I have - if a BU and BD plane are given the same amount of work - the BU blade will require more work to restore the cutting edge. Is that an accurate paraphrasing?

Thanks for your comments,
Konrad

22 July 2010 at 08:01  
Blogger Konrad said...

Pitonyak,

Sorry for leaving out some details. The block plane does have a 12 degree bed angle and the BD smoother has a 52.5 degree bed angle. The effective cutting angle of the block plane is 46 degrees.

Cheers,
Konrad

22 July 2010 at 08:11  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Derek - thanks for jumping in.

Yes - the blade in the block plane is the standard A2 blade. I have had it for about 6 years now, and have had to re-grind many, many times - so I should be well past the sometimes weaker factory edge. The blade in the BD plane was made by Ron Hock - it is high carbon steel (01).

If I understand your comments correctly, you seem to be suggesting that this is an unfair comparison because you think the A2 blade is faulty. Is that correct?

Cheers,
Konrad

22 July 2010 at 08:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me thinks Derek has magic blades...[g].

This isn't new science. It is an established fact: Less clearance angles means edge wear in a less proportionate way as regards the amount of wear on each side of the cutting edge.

It (this uneven wear pattern) is measurable and demonstrable. It has been published on many, many times inside and outside the woodworking industry.

To me, the weird thing isn't that Mr. K's blades amply illustrate this fact. The weird thing to me is that Derek's seemingly do not.

I believe that while such disparate bedding angles Mr. K is using are not directly correlative, neither are 12/25 bedding angles. Both pairs of blades do (should) illustrate there is greater wear on the back side of the blades. It is just a 12/25 deg. comparison will have less a difference.

Further, Mr. K's blog entry demonstrates the issue involved with honing/sharpening requirements for folks who either have or are thinking about low angle planes versus higher angle planes.

For myself, knowing that my BU, low angle planes require more frequent honing is a "who cares" issue. LA BU planes are worthy planes for many tasks (as well as the BD LA strike block plane I mentioned). It is just I need to pop out a blade a little more often to renew the edge.

Knowing I need to hone more frequently means that, well, I do so. If renewed via honing (I use fine compound on a Makore slab of wood, just like my "bevel up paring chisels [g]), frequently enough (not that often) means they remain sharp.

I have not reground my BU LA plane blades (nor the BD LA blade, nor my paring chisels) in years.

Take care, Mike

22 July 2010 at 09:03  
Anonymous Derek Cohen said...

"If I understand your comments correctly, you seem to be suggesting that this is an unfair comparison because you think the A2 blade is faulty. Is that correct? "

Hi Konrad, and no - I am not drawing any conclusions. All I was saying is that the degree of wear you demonstrated puzzles me. While I do anticipate some, yours was far more that I would expect.

Mike wrote, "For myself, knowing that my BU, low angle planes require more frequent honing is a "who cares" issue. LA BU planes are worthy planes for many tasks (as well as the BD LA strike block plane I mentioned). It is just I need to pop out a blade a little more often to renew the edge."

I totally agree with this sentiment. I am curious about the speed and degree to which a wear bevel developes on a BU blade, however this is really academic since the performance that may be achieved from a high angle BU Smoother can be second-to-none (apologies Konrad :)).

Back to blade wear - I have recently begun examining the edges of blades under high magnification. Now this may be a reflection of my naivity at this stage, but one conclusion I could draw is that - on a shooting board - the edges may disintegrate (become more serrated) long before they degrade as a result of wear on the back of a blade. I posted some images on Sawnill Creek not too long ago (http://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?p=1458742#post1458742). I am going to compare this now with wear from the relatively more gentle smoothing action.

Regards from Perth

Derek

22 July 2010 at 10:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When measuring wear bevels, I think it will take more sophisticated equipment than is readily at hand.

Not only should length be measured (from the edge back up the length of the cutting tool), but also width (across the thickness of the cutting tool). Only then would it be possible to truly graph meaningful results.

A wear bevel isn't a "new" bevel-shaped thing. It has a radius. Simply measuring back from the edge will not give a true picture of the degree of wear.

Best wishes. Mike

22 July 2010 at 13:35  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks again for all your comments. You hit one of the nails on the head for me - the issue of the trade off between one plane and another as it relates to time and effort to maintain an effective cutting edge. For you it is not that big a deal - I fully accept that. For me it is a little different; if I have two tools to choose from and one take more effort to maintain - I will use the one that allows me to be the most efficient. It is as simple as that for me.

“bevel up paring chisels” - now that was funny!

Cheers,
Konrad

22 July 2010 at 20:34  
Anonymous Larry Williams said...

As Mike mentioned, inadequate clearance can be a problem with bevel down planes. The strike block is a prime but unusual example.

While few bevel down planes are bedded around 40º like the strike block. One has to be careful to maintain an acute bevel of no less than 25º with a 40º bed and to keep the iron very sharp while taking only the finest of cuts. If you don't, you'll run into clearance angle problems. It's the reason the structurally flawed wooden miter plane replaced in the early 19th Century. Not only was the 20º bedded wooden miter plane prone to structural failure it required a mouth closing stop which contributed to its cost being three times greater than the strike block.

I've also had clearance angle problems with my middle pitch smooth plane. This has happened when trying to rush good sharpening, avoiding maintaining a small secondary bevel and lifting while honing to speed sharpening. When the bevel angle gets close to 35º the plane lacks adequate clearance which causes problems. So a 20º clearance angle isn't enough for a 55º angle of attack.

The difference between bevel-down planes and 12º bevel-up planes is that the clearance angle issues are built into the 12º planes. These built in problems can only be avoided by careful stock selection, maintaining an acute bevel angle and taking only the lightest of cuts with a very sharp iron.

22 July 2010 at 21:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is this the fault of the bevel up blade, or the 12 degree bed angle?

I'm thinking a little of both.

I like the BU idea, but I simply have no need for such a low bedding angle.

22 July 2010 at 21:01  
Anonymous Derek Cohen said...

"if I have two tools to choose from and one take more effort to maintain - I will use the one that allows me to be the most efficient. It is as simple as that for me."

Hi Konrad

I agree ... to a point.

First of all I must clarify that I consider the advantage of a BU plane lies at the cutting angle extremes - either low or high, but not the middle range. The middle range (say 40- 50 degrees) is one I view the domain of the BD plane. I say this with some reserve since I have several BD smoothers with beds at 60 degrees.

The issues are this:

There is an advantage in a low cutting angle on the shooting board.

There is an advantage in a high cutting angle with interlocked grain (not necessarily hard wood). Generally we are referring to the use of smoothers in this context, but not always.

BU planes are easier to set up at these extremes. Of course one may set up a BD plane with a high cutting angle, but all variables otherwise held equal, the BU plane is easier to push than the BD plane.

The downside for me of a BU plane - with a 12 degree bed - is that it must use a microbevel to achieve the chosen high cutting angle. This is best done with a honing guide. Personally I prefer honing freehand, and the discipline of a honing guide is something that I reluctantly accept ... simply because the performance of BU smoother with a high cutting angle is so good.

Now the limiting factor here is the 12 degree bed. So I went ahead and built an infill BU with a 25 degree bed (http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ShopMadeTools/A_Galoots_infill_smoother.html). I use a 35 degree hollow ground primary bevel, and the result creates a 60 degree cutting angle. The performance is superior.

On the shooting board a favourite is a LA Jack. This benefits from a low cutting angle. The 25 degree bevel is straightforward to freehand, so no issues there.

On all other planes that benefit from a common or york pitch I prefer a BD configuration for ease of sharpening. Issues of edge longevity rarely come into the equation.

Regards from Perth

Derek

23 July 2010 at 05:38  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Derek,

Thanks for clarifying you are not drawing any conclusions based on photos.

The wear I experienced is pretty consistent with the wear I usually see on edge tools when I am using them for a more coarse application - like fairly heavy stock removal on a challenging timber like flame birch. I was not using either tool as a finishing tool, but I was also not working so coarse as to tolerate tearout. One of the problems with discussions like this is the limitations of our language. For me to say “challenging timbers like flame birch” means one thing to me and maybe a few others... but some may not find it challenging to work with at all. Your comment about “performance from high (cutting angle) BU planes is second to none“... I do not really know what that means because I have no context for what your expectations are. That statement may be 100% accurate for you - but I have nothing to compare it to. Your parameters of high performance may be different than mine in that they may include different criteria. For me, a planes overall performance includes how easy it is to maintain the cutting edge, how easy is it to adjust in use, how comfortable it is, how the plane behaves when the iron is dull, how does it behave when I am actually working (as opposed to testing a plane), etc, etc. These are not quantifiable performance issues, but they are highly valuable to me.

A very good friend of mine called the other day to talk about this issue and pointed out that I should also not discount my own skills with my own planes and with planes in general.

He also reminded me that everything is a trade off - there is no magic bullet out there. The point of my post was to draw attention to an aspect of low bed angle planes - the wear area is very pronounced and requires more work (for me) to remove it. I wanted to point it out in case there were others out there who were experiencing inconsistent results with similar plane configurations. As Mike pointed out - for him it is not a big deal. That is a perfect answer - he likely has different patterns for maintaining a cutting edge - and neither of us is right or wrong - just different.

I will comment on your second comment here as well (man this is a lot of typing!)

Interesting comment about your need for a micro bevel on a low bed angle, BU blade. I am also a freehand honer and the idea of micro bevels is frankly more work and I fear that I create a moving target with where exactly the cutting edge is. I guess I am a bit simplistic in my approach - but If the back of the iron is flat, and if I can maintain the bevel - I only have 2 faces to worry about. A micro bevel creates a third face that is generally so small, it cannot be seen and may make it harder to control.

You made the comment that the the performance of a BU smoother with a high cutting angle is “so good”... but wouldn't the “performance” be the same with a BD plane with a comparable fixed bed angle? Attack is attack angle isn't it?

Can you explain “superior performance” from your 25 degree bed angle, 35 degree bevel, BU infill?

Thanks for all your comments,
Konrad

24 July 2010 at 17:22  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Derek,

Thanks for clarifying you are not drawing any conclusions based on photos.

The wear I experienced is pretty consistent with the wear I usually see on edge tools when I am using them for a more coarse application - like fairly heavy stock removal on a challenging timber like flame birch. I was not using either tool as a finishing tool, but I was also not working so coarse as to tolerate tearout. One of the problems with discussions like this is the limitations of our language. For me to say “challenging timbers like flame birch” means one thing to me and maybe a few others... but some may not find it challenging to work with at all. Your comment about “performance from high (cutting angle) BU planes is second to none“... I do not really know what that means because I have no context for what your expectations are. That statement may be 100% accurate for you - but I have nothing to compare it to. Your parameters of high performance may be different than mine in that they may include different criteria. For me, a planes overall performance includes how easy it is to maintain the cutting edge, how easy is it to adjust in use, how comfortable it is, how the plane behaves when the iron is dull, how does it behave when I am actually working (as opposed to testing a plane), etc, etc. These are not quantifiable performance issues, but they are highly valuable to me.

A very good friend of mine called the other day to talk about this issue and pointed out that I should also not discount my own skills with my own planes and with planes in general.

He also reminded me that everything is a trade off - there is no magic bullet out there. The point of my post was to draw attention to an aspect of low bed angle planes - the wear area is very pronounced and requires more work (for me) to remove it. I wanted to point it out in case there were others out there who were experiencing inconsistent results with similar plane configurations. As Mike pointed out - for him it is not a big deal. That is a perfect answer - he likely has different patterns for maintaining a cutting edge - and neither of us is right or wrong - just different.

I will comment on your second comment here as well (man this is a lot of typing!)

Interesting comment about your need for a micro bevel on a low bed angle, BU blade. I am also a freehand honer and the idea of micro bevels is frankly more work and I fear that I create a moving target with where exactly the cutting edge is. I guess I am a bit simplistic in my approach - but If the back of the iron is flat, and if I can maintain the bevel - I only have 2 faces to worry about. A micro bevel creates a third face that is generally so small, it cannot be seen and may make it harder to control.

You made the comment that the the performance of a BU smoother with a high cutting angle is “so good”... but wouldn't the “performance” be the same with a BD plane with a comparable fixed bed angle? Attack is attack angle isn't it?

Can you explain “superior performance” from your 25 degree bed angle, 35 degree bevel, BU infill?

Thanks for all your comments,
Konrad

24 July 2010 at 17:23  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Derek,

Thanks for clarifying you are not drawing any conclusions based on photos.

The wear I experienced is pretty consistent with the wear I usually see on edge tools when I am using them for a more coarse application - like fairly heavy stock removal on a challenging timber like flame birch. I was not using either tool as a finishing tool, but I was also not working so coarse as to tolerate tearout. One of the problems with discussions like this is the limitations of our language. For me to say “challenging timbers like flame birch” means one thing to me and maybe a few others... but some may not find it challenging to work with at all. Your comment about “performance from high (cutting angle) BU planes is second to none“... I do not really know what that means because I have no context for what your expectations are. That statement may be 100% accurate for you - but I have nothing to compare it to. Your parameters of high performance may be different than mine in that they may include different criteria. For me, a planes overall performance includes how easy it is to maintain the cutting edge, how easy is it to adjust in use, how comfortable it is, how the plane behaves when the iron is dull, how does it behave when I am actually working (as opposed to testing a plane), etc, etc. These are not quantifiable performance issues, but they are highly valuable to me.

A very good friend of mine called the other day to talk about this issue and pointed out that I should also not discount my own skills with my own planes and with planes in general.

He also reminded me that everything is a trade off - there is no magic bullet out there. The point of my post was to draw attention to an aspect of low bed angle planes - the wear area is very pronounced and requires more work (for me) to remove it. I wanted to point it out in case there were others out there who were experiencing inconsistent results with similar plane configurations. As Mike pointed out - for him it is not a big deal. That is a perfect answer - he likely has different patterns for maintaining a cutting edge - and neither of us is right or wrong - just different.

I will comment on your second comment here as well (man this is a lot of typing!)

Interesting comment about your need for a micro bevel on a low bed angle, BU blade. I am also a freehand honer and the idea of micro bevels is frankly more work and I fear that I create a moving target with where exactly the cutting edge is. I guess I am a bit simplistic in my approach - but If the back of the iron is flat, and if I can maintain the bevel - I only have 2 faces to worry about. A micro bevel creates a third face that is generally so small, it cannot be seen and may make it harder to control.

You made the comment that the the performance of a BU smoother with a high cutting angle is “so good”... but wouldn't the “performance” be the same with a BD plane with a comparable fixed bed angle? Attack is attack angle isn't it?

Can you explain “superior performance” from your 25 degree bed angle, 35 degree bevel, BU infill?

Thanks for all your comments,
Konrad

24 July 2010 at 17:23  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Derek,

Thanks for clarifying you are not drawing any conclusions based on photos.

The wear I experienced is pretty consistent with the wear I usually see on edge tools when I am using them for a more coarse application - like fairly heavy stock removal on a challenging timber like flame birch. I was not using either tool as a finishing tool, but I was also not working so coarse as to tolerate tearout. One of the problems with discussions like this is the limitations of our language. For me to say “challenging timbers like flame birch” means one thing to me and maybe a few others... but some may not find it challenging to work with at all. Your comment about “performance from high (cutting angle) BU planes is second to none“... I do not really know what that means because I have no context for what your expectations are. That statement may be 100% accurate for you - but I have nothing to compare it to. Your parameters of high performance may be different than mine in that they may include different criteria. For me, a planes overall performance includes how easy it is to maintain the cutting edge, how easy is it to adjust in use, how comfortable it is, how the plane behaves when the iron is dull, how does it behave when I am actually working (as opposed to testing a plane), etc, etc. These are not quantifiable performance issues, but they are highly valuable to me.

A very good friend of mine called the other day to talk about this issue and pointed out that I should also not discount my own skills with my own planes and with planes in general.

He also reminded me that everything is a trade off - there is no magic bullet out there. The point of my post was to draw attention to an aspect of low bed angle planes - the wear area is very pronounced and requires more work (for me) to remove it. I wanted to point it out in case there were others out there who were experiencing inconsistent results with similar plane configurations. As Mike pointed out - for him it is not a big deal. That is a perfect answer - he likely has different patterns for maintaining a cutting edge - and neither of us is right or wrong - just different.

I will get to your other post in a second...

Cheers,
Konrad

24 July 2010 at 17:24  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi (again) dereck,

Interesting comment about your need for a micro bevel on a low bed angle, BU blade. I am also a freehand honer and the idea of micro bevels is frankly more work and I fear that I create a moving target with where exactly the cutting edge is. I guess I am a bit simplistic in my approach - but If the back of the iron is flat, and if I can maintain the bevel - I only have 2 faces to worry about. A micro bevel creates a third face that is generally so small, it cannot be seen and may make it harder to control.

You made the comment that the the performance of a BU smoother with a high cutting angle is “so good”... but wouldn't the “performance” be the same with a BD plane with a comparable fixed bed angle? Attack is attack angle isn't it?

Can you explain “superior performance” from your 25 degree bed angle, 35 degree bevel, BU infill?

Thanks for all your comments,
Konrad

24 July 2010 at 17:25  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Larry,

Thanks for jumping into the soup!

And thanks for your insight into the strike block plane. I had ready Joel’s post about them a while back and noticed that Bill Carter has made a few.

Hmmm... interesting comment on clearance angles for high bed angle BD planes - I will keep an eye out for that issue. I suppose a burnishing effect would be worst thing to encounter - and it would only show up when you went to apply finish. At that point it may be too late to correct for it.

Cheers,
Konrad

24 July 2010 at 17:42  
Blogger Konrad said...

Anonymous - your short question may sum it all up. This may very well be the fault of a 12 degree bed angle as opposed to a BU vs BD blade. As Larry observed - the clearance issue is built into 12 degrees.

Thanks for your input.
Konrad

24 July 2010 at 17:46  
Anonymous Derek Cohen said...

"You made the comment that the the performance of a BU smoother with a high cutting angle is “so good”... but wouldn't the “performance” be the same with a BD plane with a comparable fixed bed angle? Attack is attack angle isn't it?

Can you explain “superior performance” from your 25 degree bed angle, 35 degree bevel, BU infill?"

Hi Konrad

I think that we are on the same page when you write, " everything is a trade off - there is no magic bullet out there". There are pros and cons about every plane for everyone, no doubt including your own - :) - simply because we all have different priorities.

Here is a reference of sorts for you. I work almost exclusively with Australian timbers. Most are an Eucalypt. There are generally very hard and mostly abrasive (high levels of silica) and the grain has a high degree of interlock. Examples being old Jarrah and Western Australian She-oak. A high cutting angle (around 60 degrees) is preferred to limit tearout. The abrasiveness of the woods have also increased the local interest in steels such as HSS and D2. A2 is taken for granted.

I have several smoothers with high cutting angles. These range from LN #4 1/2 (york pitch frog), Brese (half pitch) to HNT Gordon (half-pitch bed) to Veritas BU (BUS and LAS) and a few I have built in both wood and metal (such as the 25 degree bed infill I mentioned earlier). Here is the thing ...

... with cutting angle and blade width held constant, the low centre of gravity and low centre of effort of a BU plane makes it significantly easier to push for a fine smoothing cut than the BD plane. In my BD planes I need to restrict them to a 2" width to manage, otherwise they become fatiguing.

OK the "superior performance" thing about the 25 degree bed BU smoother ... (Oh god, this is a long post again!)

One of my priorities with a plane is the ease of use. I like it to be comfortable to hold, easy to push, that the blade is easy to remove and replace ... and that the edge is easy to maintain. The one complaint I have about high angled BU planes is that they really do require a microbevel *if you want to camber the blade* (= less steel to remove that from the face of a high angle primary grind). I prefer to freehand when honing, and I tend to refresh the edge of the blade before it needs honing. Freehanding a microbevel at a specific angle is not doable. So they require a honing guide.

The upside of a BU smoother is that it is easy to achieve a high cutting angle, and this is a big factor in preventing tearout (yes I know there are other factors as well). Dropping the cutting angle even 5 degrees with some grain can lead to considerable tearout.

Raising the bed from 12- to 25 degrees not only reduces the potential for wear on the back of the blade (the point that Larry raises so frequently), but brings the 35 degree primary bevel into a range where it may be cambered easily enough freehand. It is probably also a more durable edge than on the average BD plane (at 25 - 30 degrees).

Stopping now to head to the workshop!

Regards from Perth

Derek

24 July 2010 at 21:30  
Blogger raney said...

Just a quick point regarding Derek's experience -

While australian timbers are almost certainly more abrasive than the 'norm' on this continent, they also exhibit MUCH less springback, which - as Mike has pointed out - is the primary mechanism for the wear bevels. So it makes some sense that a 12 degree clearance would be less of an 'issue' for Derek.

My experience completely coincides with what Mike and Konrad have said, and what Larry Williams has been saying for years: in general, low angle designs are more difficult to maintain than planes with higher clearance angle - and in my opinion, 12 degrees is lower than I would like in most situations.

Bevel up designs have their place, and it's all about tradeoffs indeed, but there seems to be something of a notion that they are a 'magic bullet' among many people. I don't agree, and use them pretty infrequently as they really call for a sharpening regimen that is very different than mine; I'm a freehand sharpener as well, and microbevels, secondary bevels, and back bevels all cause my colon to stiffen.

28 July 2010 at 10:41  
Anonymous Ian Neuhaus said...

Hi Konrad
All other things being equal, I think it comes down to the basic difference in geometry between BD and BU planes.

With a BD plane, it's the flat back of the blade that does the cutting and the bevel side that experiences wear from fibre springback. When you re-hone the bevel to freshen the cutting edge you automaticly remove any wear caused by fibre springback.

With a BU plane, it's the bevel side that does the cutting and the flat back which experiences any wear from fibre springback. When you rehone the bevel to freshen the edge, you are not really touching much of the area on the back of the blade affected by fibre spring back.

I hope this makes sense
Ian

31 July 2010 at 08:45  
Anonymous David Charlesworth said...

Hi Konrad,

It may have escaped some of your posters attention, that the ruler trick removes metal from precisely the area of the back of the blade where you have shown the wear for the 12 degree L-N block plane.

I do hope your finger has healed well,
best wishes,
David Charlesworth

9 August 2010 at 14:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(late to the party)

All other equal (clearance angle, etc) it takes more work to remove wear area from BU plane. If it is, let's say, 0.3 mm at 5 degree, you'll have to grind all 0.3 mm from a BU blade, but only 0.03mm from BD blade (5 deg being about 1/11 of incline). You get the idea.

3 September 2010 at 19:00  
Blogger Drroov said...

Also a bit late;

I have just recently encountered the issue. I'm using only Veritas BU planes, and indeed the wear on the backside of the blade is pronounced, even on European woods. The solution I am trying right now - I know it sounds risky - is to use a longer than usual back bevel, about a centimeter long. Hopefully, the blade would still be supported securely on the bed (although not on its very end), and the cutting edge should benefit from increased resistance to nicking. Any comments?

Regards,

Tomasz Segiet

21 September 2010 at 16:06  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Tomasz,

Better late than never! Thanks for jumping in.

I am not 100% sure I am following your current solution, but my fear would be that the longer back bevel will get you closer to a zero clearance angle. I look at it this way - if I had to remove that long back bevel, I would be at the grinder for hours. I guess in theory, you will have an edge that is less prone to nicking... but the "cost" may be higher than I would be willing to pay. Good luck with it and please let me know how it goes. For all I know - you may be onto something with this.

Cheers,
Konrad

21 September 2010 at 19:34  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Friday, 9 July 2010

Myth-busting

A few months ago - while attending a Lie Nielsen sponsored hand-tool show, I think I formally busted a myth. The event was held at Exotic Woods in Burlington and we were surrounded by wood, glorious wood. I was talking with a gentleman who was very interested in infill planes and wanted to review some of their features and to get my opinion on why they work the way they do. He rattled off the usuals; they are heavy - requiring less downward pressure, have a really thick iron which reduced chatter, few moving parts - fewer “tolerances” that can add up to movement (chatter), dense woods that dampens vibration, a closed tote which gives a much more responsive feedback than an open tote. As I was standing there - with a clear view of the instrument parts room over his shoulder, I blurted out;

“well... I am not really convinced that dense woods like rosewood are absorbing vibration. In actual fact, they are the worst choice for reducing vibration... they are tone woods, and highly prized for their ability to vibrate.”

There was a very long, awkward silence, and as I stood there pondering what I might have let out of the bag, I realized I had been thinking about this for some time, but had never articulated it that clearly before. And certainly not in public. The conversation continued for at least another 40 minutes and ended after he had happily tried every plane on the bench. So there it was - out in the open. And lightning did not strike me down and the earths axis appears to be unaltered.

In hindsight - it felt pretty good to toss the monkey wrench... but it did get me thinking more seriously about why infills work the way they do.

Another often quoted advantage of an infill is their weight. I am not entirely sure about this one either. I think there is some confusion between “weight” and how solid the plane feels in use. One of the true advantages of an infill plane is the lack of moving parts as they relate to the blade. The blade is fixed (crushed actually) against a wooden bed that is permanently, mechanically fastened to the frame of the plane - the metal body. The lever cap exerts an incredible amount of pressure against the blade leaving it with only once choice - to cut wood. Contrast this with planes where the blade can be moved by way of a mechanical mechanism to move it up and down, and left and right while the lever cap is deployed. Then factor in the frog being able to move forward and back at the same time. These are all great features - but they do add up to “tolerances or gaps” that reduce how rigidly the blade is held when it is presented with challenging timber. I think people experience how solid an infill feels more than the actual weight. This weight vs solid issue also explains why a Clark & Williams plane feels so great to use. Like an infill - they have no moving parts. The blade is held firmly against the bed and the iron does not have a choice but to take a shaving. The first time I tried a C&W smoother - I nearly tossed it across the room because it was so much lighter... but I very quickly adapted to it, and while it is very different from an infill plane - it does “feel” quite similar - like pushing a rock that spits out shavings.

Those of you that use or have tried both - I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

14 Comments:

Blogger matt@thuja said...

As a piano researcher (and a former acoustical engineer) I'd have to agree with you Konrad! One easy way to think about vibration is to imagine something really stiff like a piece of metal and something really floppy like a piece of cardboard. Now imagine holding each in your hand and hitting them with a hammer. The stiffer object will transmit the energy without absorbing much of it, while the floppy object will absorb a lot of energy and won't transmit much. Generally speaking denser woods are stiffer than less dense woods, so theoretically a balsa infill plane would probably be the best at absorbing vibrations. That said, in the long run your arm, hand, and muscles are going to be a lot less stiff than even a balsa infill, and its probably mostly at this point that most of the chatter would be absorbed regardless of the plane type.

Matt

12 July 2010 at 16:34  
Blogger David Weaver said...

I have only tried planes that I've built vs. bench planes. One of my smoothers has a brazilian rosewood infill, and it feels more solid than the LN 4 1/2 that I had until I finished it, even though the LN weighs more by a couple of ounces (it is 3/8ths wider than the infill in cutting width, though).

I think the advantage in an infill is the tightness of the tolerance around the mouth, it's fixed there, and the attention given to the bed and the fit of the lever cap - nothing moves at all - especially on a plane without an adjuster. The whole plane is a unit and everything is gripped tightly.

If the wood was that good at reducing vibration, we would project it past the back of the mouth at the bottom of the bed and never let the iron touch a metal bedding block at the bottom or the sole of the plane.

I think you're absolutely right.

13 July 2010 at 06:46  
Anonymous JeffB said...

There is a big difference between the vibrations in a thin piece of wood (as used in a string instrument) and those in a big honking chunk as used in an infill plane. Even if the big chunk vibrated in any appreciable way, I doubt it would have any effect given all the other parts of the plane/cutting operation involved. The infill makers used rosewood and other exotics because they looked nice, end of story.

It is interesting to note that Norris switched to ebonized beech later on when rosewood became too expensive. I can't say I have ever heard people complain that the later Norrises perform worse than the older ones. They don't look as nice though.

When discussion of infill weight comes up, it is usually in respect to momentum -- once you get it going it is more likely to keep going. No idea if this really confers any advantage.

13 July 2010 at 15:05  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks for the feedback Matt and mentioning ones arm and hands as a dampening device - I would have never thought of that! I wonder if ones arms and hands are enough to eliminate the issue of vibration altogether... regardless of the way the plane is built?

Cheers,
Konrad

15 July 2010 at 08:28  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks David,

First off - congratulations on building your own plane. I am sure it was tremendously rewarding and then using it for your own work is likely pure bliss.

Thanks too for mentioning the fixed mouth - I agree that it is another key to an infills success.

On the adjuster front - one of the reasons many of the original Norris adjusters are in such terrible shape, it that if just one person forgets to relieve the tension of the lever cap while using the adjuster - it will sustain damage. I realize this is essentially a design flaw with the adjuster (that it cannot withstand that type of abuse), but it is amazing how quickly the threads become damaged. Many of my personal planes have been damaged at various shows because people do not bother to ask how to use the plane before they try it. This also speaks to the incredible holding strength of the lever cap design.

Cheers,
Konrad

15 July 2010 at 08:35  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for your comments. I agree that the reason true Rosewoods were used for infill material was because of their beauty - but they also have some other very important characteristics. Once properly seasoned - they are incredibly stable. In my opinion - this fact actually overrides their aesthetic qualities. The other factor is they are quite easy to work - something hand tool workers would have appreciated.

I have heard many Norris users comment that the functional quality of the pre-war Norris planes (the Rosewood filled ones) is significantly higher than those filled with beech. I am sure there are more factors at play other than the change in infill material - but there seems to be a noticeable difference between them. I have not had a chance to compare them back to back, but many of my customers have and they have all concluded they are wildly different.

Thanks for mentioning the momentum issue - it also plays a role in all this.

Cheers,
Konrad

15 July 2010 at 08:43  
Anonymous JeffB said...

I agree that the reason true Rosewoods were used for infill material was because of their beauty - but they also have some other very important characteristics. Once properly seasoned - they are incredibly stable. In my opinion - this fact actually overrides their aesthetic qualities. The other factor is they are quite easy to work - something hand tool workers would have appreciated.

Agreed. I was intentionally oversimplifying things to make a point. The fact is that all the infill makers were making a premium product and in turn charging premium prices. It would simply be hard to stay in business if you are charging premium prices for something using run-of-the-mill wood. If you look at the costs of making an infill plane, the largest part (by a huge amount) is the cost of labor. The cost of materials certainly factors in but if you look at the cost of a good chunk of wood versus some standard species, that difference is minuscule compared to the cost of labor. Given, as you said, that some of the exotics are easier to work and more stable once worked (both of which lead to less labor) one could argue that using an exotic species might actually save money for the builder.

I have heard many Norris users comment that the functional quality of the pre-war Norris planes (the Rosewood filled ones) is significantly higher than those filled with beech.

Interesting. I have not heard anyone claim that but you certainly would be in a better position to hear such things. There were a number of changes other than wood species so it would be interesting to figure out what is actually affecting performance. Someone else will have to figure it out though as I won't touch a postwar Norris -- ebonized beech just looks cheesy ;-)

15 July 2010 at 10:10  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for your continued input.You are totally correct that labor is the majority of the cost. That being said - one can easily use $200 of Brazilian Rosewood to get a single smoother infill set. Most of the exotics are not available in perfect board form - there are often inclusions or defects to work around which results in in expensive waste.But yes - labor is still the largest part of the cost.

Yeah - Ebonized beech is pretty horrid. I gotta think it must have made those early makers crazy - knowing where they started and where they were ending up.

Cheers,
Konrad

16 July 2010 at 09:32  
Anonymous JeffB said...

$200 is more than I was expecting but you are using some special wood for your planes. Is that for a smoother or is that for a larger plane? A jointer obviously requires a ton of wood and getting a single piece big enough (especially nowadays) can't be cheap.

I would expect that getting large pieces of rosewood was easier during the early days of Spiers and Norris but I have never really seen any articles or books speak directly to the issue. It would be interesting to read about the trade and what pressures (cost, availability, or both) caused Norris to make a switch.

17 July 2010 at 20:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Rosewoods are a tone wood that can induce vibration (which they do, at least in thinner pieces) doesn't that apply to the infill bedding on an infill plane?

And yet in thicker pieces I think there is literally no vibration (or harmonic qualities) present. There is mass and weight, though. I think this is why the infill that uses such a wood as the infill "still works". At least as long as the mechanism that affixes the blade to the bed can create and maintain firm contact.

The issue of creating and maintaining firm contact between the blade and bed also applies to how one affixes a board to their bench to plane it.

If a board is thick and stiff enough, clamping between bench stops is "fine." Once a piece is thin enough to flex slightly due to perhaps too much clamping force, the piece, while looking flat on the bench, will not plane as easily as one that is using something pressing the piece into the bench like holdfasts.

The holdfasts create a fit between work piece and work holding device akin to a plane blade being held to the bed.

Ok. Not enough coffee and too much thinking.

Take care, Mike

21 July 2010 at 09:29  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Jeff,

Some of these timbers are frightfully expensive - but they should be. As another point of reference, a mediocre Brazilian Rosewood guitar set sells for $1,000.

I would also love to know how much the cost of timber factored into Spiers and Norris planes. I suspect more than we think. I am reading a book on John and Thomas Seymour right now, and there are many references to the fact they invested heavily in the finest timbers they could find and use them as a business advantage. Wise guys those Seymours.

Cheers,
Konrad

22 July 2010 at 07:52  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Mike,

Two great comments back to back - keep drinking the coffee my friend.

Interesting question - does the volume of rosewood lessen or negate its tonal qualities? That might be something for Matt to answer - I will check with him.

I do totally agree that a big part of an infills overall functionality is the manner in which it is put together. Mechanical fasteners that are not designed to move.

Thanks too for the comparison to planing a thin board. It has been so long since I have held a board between bench dogs, I had forgotten about this effect. It also gives insight into why planing against a single dog or stop works so well regardless of the thickness of the material.

Cheers,
Konrad

22 July 2010 at 08:07  
Anonymous carlinsand@gmail said...

A little over a year ago I created an infill plane, a big one, with a really steep angle. Think I used Macasar Ebony and overstuffed it, 1/4" steel sole, and 3/16" brass sides, the thing is near nine pounds, there's a 1/4" thick 2" wide Bresse iron with no need for a "chip breaker", no lateral adjustment, no adjustable mouth, gotta hit it with a hammer.
Takes a couple minutes to set it up, but once it's there, I have yet to find a piece of wood it will not turn to glass.
There is NOTHING like an infill, I don't care what amount of tech you throw at it.

8 August 2010 at 21:37  
Blogger JW said...

So, this thread has been banging around inside my brain for a while now.

I think your point about damaged mechanisms is an interesting one. It led me to think about how the traditional stanley 'lever cap' with the little snap lever at the top, doesn't tighten very well without a screwdriver, and seems more designed to allow free movement of the blade when the adjustment knob is turned, or the lateral adjust lever... mechanisms which would otherwise be damaged.


It's to the point where I'm considering trying to retro-fit a "real" lever cap to my L-N #4, drilled through the sides and all.

Konrad, any advice on home-brewing a nice lever cap? I'm half tempted to strip one out of an old Mathieson that I've had kicking around for a while, since it was crookedly installed, and has made lateral adjustments essentially impossible...

13 August 2010 at 10:59  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home