Sunday, 13 March 2011

A collection of recent planes

The last couple of months have been really busy. In that time, I have had the good fortune to work with some sensational materials - and not only wood this time!

First we have another Honduran Rosewood burl filled plane - a No.4 smoother. This one has a 2" wide blade bedded at 52.5 degrees.

I never get tired of working with Honduran Rosewood burl.

The next plane is an African Blackwood filled A5. This plane has a 2" wide blade and a 50 degree bed angle.

This plane was another reminder that the coldness of steel can still work with a warm wood like African Blackwood. The first all steel plane I made was infilled with Ebony and I could not imagine another infill material working as well. This plane proved me wrong.

This was my first experience working with Damascus steel. I have wanted to try it ever since seeing Brian Buckner’s stunning Damascus steel sided planes in Feb. 2005 at a Planemakers gathering hosted by Popular Woodworking. I contacted Brian to see if he would be ok if I used Damascus in a plane - I did not want to step on his toes. Thankfully - he kindly agreed.

This is a No.4 smoother with a 2" wide blade and a bronze lever cap and lever cap screw. The ebony infill is quartersawn. This plane was tougher than I thought it would be. I started this one as a “spare”. The infills were installed and I was pondering the lever cap. I had fit a Naval brass lever cap and screw and then other more pressing work took me away from it. It sat on my bench for a few weeks. I looked at it several times every day and could not decided if I liked the Naval brass or not.

Then the phone rang.

And the plane was no longer a “spare”. I sent the below photo to the customer. The Naval brass lever cap is on the far right. I quickly duplicated the image in Photoshop and simulated a stainless steel lever cap and a bronze version.

The customer preferred the bronze and I have to say - I am so thankful, because the plane really does look the best with a bronze lever cap.

This next plane is one of those planes that will likely stand out in my memory after I retire from planemaking. The infill is Desert Ironwood, and while I have used Desert Ironwood before - this Ironwood is truly remarkable. Watching the color and grain come alive as I was working on it was amazing. I was pretty excited when I found this piece of Ironwood - but I did not expect it to be this striking.

It is also tricky wood to work with. It is extremely hard but there is a brittleness to it not unlike Madagascar Ebony. Add in all the burl and figure and it was a slow, nerve wracking process. In the end though - it was totally worth it.

This next plane is a Birds eye Boxwood XSNo.4 smoother. Steel sides and a 52.5 degree bed angle.

The infill was soaked in oil for 4 days and left to dry for a week or so. It is finished off with a coat of paste wax.

And last, but certainly not least - a curly Rosewood filled SNo.4 smoother. 1-3/4" wide blade, 52.5 degree bed angle.

I have 4 new planes in the works. One uses a crazy material, one is a variation to a plane that I have been dying to make for several years, and two are planes that have been on the list and am finally getting around to making. 2011 is shaping up to be an amazing year.


Blogger Adrian Baird Ba Than said...

I love the damascus,it takes toolmaking into a whole new arena transforming a basic workhorse material into a true showpony!
I've made as well as purchased a couple of small pocket knives made of the stuff,I simply cannot get enough.
I make my own Mokume Gane using silver & copper,occasionaly silver,copper & gold but my Nirvana on earth would be a small forge so that i could pattern weld my own steel.
Beautiful planes,as usual...
More damascus please,maybe a small rebate plane?

14 March 2011 at 01:35  
Blogger Tico Vogt said...

Absolutely outstanding, all of them pleasures to behold (and treasures to own).

14 March 2011 at 09:02  
Blogger raney said...

Man, just when I think the bar's been pushed to the top.

The Damascus is beautiful, Konrad, but the real standouts for me are the last three. That desert ironwood is unbelievable - between the xtra gorgeous inclusion at the top and the strata on the interior, that front bun is a work of art.

And let's face it - phrases such as "curly bridseye boxwood", and "Brazilian rosewood burl" really have no need of explanation.

Can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings!

14 March 2011 at 09:22  
Anonymous Steve C said...

Ironwood burl, MORE MORE MORE!!!

That's a great start to the year already Konrad, very nicely done as always. Thanks for sharing what you've been working on.


14 March 2011 at 21:23  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Black,

Damascus is a pretty cool material for sure... but is a serious PITA with regards to etching so close to the overstuffing. It took many attempts to get it where I was happy with it.

A small rebate would be pretty cool in damascus... so would a panel plane:) I will see what I can do.


15 March 2011 at 08:08  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks for your kind comments Tico.


15 March 2011 at 08:09  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Raney - but you are pushing that bar quite high yourself. Beautiful work.

The Desert Ironwood was a pretty amazing find. There is another A5 set roughed out from the same piece and I will be curious to see if it produces an equally stunning plane.


15 March 2011 at 08:13  
Blogger Konrad said...

Ha - I hear you Steve. More Ironwood burl like that would be pretty awesome. I do have a few other Ironwood sets roughed out for XSNo.4‘s and there is a good sized chunk left over. It is a blistered burl pattern and should make for some amazing planes. I should be getting to them in the next few months.


15 March 2011 at 08:16  
Blogger georgewalkerdesign said...

The damascus smoother is a wonderful sight. No accident that you chose an infill material that's a bit calmer and doesn't fight with the figure in the metal. Nice work.

16 March 2011 at 11:34  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks George. I cannot imagine any other infill material working with Damascus to be honest. A really straight grained boxwood might work... but the issue of keeping the boxwood clean during the process would be a total nightmare and likely not possible. And while African Blackwood has a really subtle grain pattern to it - I think it would still conflict with the Damascus. Who knows though - I have been prove wrong before.


16 March 2011 at 12:05  
Blogger FredW said...

Konrad, you are truly amazing and as Raney said you continue to raise the bar much to the delight of those of us that love this type of work. Fred

5 April 2011 at 22:15  

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