Wednesday 31 March 2010

This blog has moved

Greetings all.

Thanks to Google and Blogger I've temporarily migrated the site over to their blogspot hosting service located at

You will hopefully be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.

For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to

I may end up migrating it back to the domain...

Thanks for your patience while I make these changes.


Blogger Luis Martins said...

Hi Konrad,

Things usually work the other way around, you start up a blog with a free Google address and in time you want to have the blog under your own domain name.

What on earth could have prompted you to make such a move?

I've been following your work for years in your blog and someday I'll place an order for a XS n.4...


12 April 2010 at 16:39  

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Sunday 28 March 2010

A7 - part II

The rear infill on the A7 is now installed and the sides and sole are lapped flat and square. I used brass pins this time and really like how clean the sides are.

A detail shot of the rear infill and adjuster.

This was a tricky photo to take, but it shows the scribe lines of the bed and the leading edge of the mouth. These are the lines that I file too.

This is the setup I use for cutting the mouth opening. The two scribe lines on the sole are the same width as my hacksaw blade. The two steel blocks clamped to either side act as a fence. When I am positioning the blocks, I use a small knife edge square and bring the blocks up to it. This helps to ensure that I am cutting a mouth perpendicular to the sole.

The tape around the clamp threads are to keep the threads from marking the sole. That tape has been there for years.

The most nerve wracking part is starting the cut. The above photo shows the beginnings of the kerf being established. This is one of those “workmanship or risk” parts (and I love working this way).

A few minutes later, the kerf is deep enough that I can take a breath. The teeth are buried at this point.

And a few minutes after that - the kerf is deep enough to stop and work at it from another side.

Here is the same photo as the previous one with the fence and clamp removed for clarity. Notice that the kerf is centered between the scribe line.

This next photo shows the kerf defining the bed of the plane. There is a little left to file down, but the kerf is pretty close to the scribe line. I really took this photo to highlight the position of the plane in the vice. Notice that the radius of the mouth opening is below the vice jaw line. This is intentional. When I am starting the cut with the hacksaw - the blade sometimes slips, as is evident from the deep scratches along the back edge. This area is going to be removed, so it does not matter, but by keeping the radius below the jawline - I have “protected it” from a sliding hacksaw blade. The blade hits the tops of the jaws before it can damage the radius on the plane.

The mouth has now been cut - time for lots of file work! This is a clearer shot of how close the sawing gets to the scribe lines.

The wedge has been fit to the plane now. I leave out the adjuster for the fitting process... it just gets in the way.

And here is the wedge roughly shaped on the bandsaw.

And finally the finished plane. As luck would have it - I was able to deliver this plane this past weekend. It is always a bonus to be able to hand the plane to the new owner.


Anonymous Adam Palmer said...

Those hacksaw cuts must be nervewracking. I wonder, what kind of hacksaw blades do you prefer? Is there a specific kind that you find does a better job? I'm just getting into metalworking, (just using a Taig lathe so far) and I leave a lot of room for my clumsy hacksaw cuts. And therefore a lot of filing.

29 March 2010 at 19:50  
Blogger Konrad said...


Stunning work on the plane and photo log of the processes involved! I've always loved the lines of the A7, it has such a "balanced" look. Thanks for continuing to post despite your busy schedule.

On a side note, I've cut into one of those lignum vitae bowling balls I mentioned to you a while it over a year ago?!? Tempus really does fugit!!! In any event, I've discovered that I may be allergic to it!!! After planing a bit of it, I noticed a tingling in my fingers and a curious sensation in my nose. I used a mask when cutting it initially, but figured I'd be safe to plane it as no dust was involved. I guess I was wrong. Have you developed any irritation working with these woods?

All the best,


29 March 2010 at 20:43  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Louis,

Somehow, I managed to delete your comment - so I cut and paste it into the field. Sorry about that.

Glad you enjoyed watching the A7 come together.

Sorry to hear about your reaction to Lignum. I have been very fortunate and have not reacted to anything. That being said - I will not work with Cocobolo as it is a sensitizer wood and I am not prepared to take any chances.

Best wishes,

29 March 2010 at 20:46  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Adam,

Yes - they certainly are. I need to be in the right frame of mind before I will do it. But once I get going - it goes according to plan.

As far as brands of blades go - I am not that fussy. I usually buy them in bulk and cannot remember which ones I am using now... I think Lennox maybe? you generally get what you pay for so I usually do not buy the least expensive blades. I have not had any real lemons yet:)


29 March 2010 at 20:51  
Blogger Tico Vogt said...

That is a beautiful plane. Thanks for documenting the process so clearly. I'm interested in all the files that you use, and will go back through your posts to find out about them, but in particular what do you use on the mouth once you've sawed the opening? It must be very thin, indeed.



30 March 2010 at 06:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a little off topic, but I just wanted to say that your planes are absolutely beautiful. I had a chance to see and handle one at the Tools of the Trade show in Pickering on this past Sunday. I was very, very impressed. Time to set up a special savings fund. The No. 5 Smoother I saw was more than just tempting.

Once again, well done. Well done indeed.

30 March 2010 at 21:06  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Tico,

I use Japanese saw files for working on the actual mouth opening. For the bed of the plane I use more typical files - 8" single cut mill bastard files work well. They are slow, but do a very clean job. I am always on the look-out for files with safe edges. They work perfectly for shoulder planes when filing the bed. I orient the safe edge towards the leading edge of the mouth so that I do not inadvertently remove material. When I am working a little higher, I flip the file and place the safe edge towards to back of the plane.


30 March 2010 at 22:24  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks for the kind comments. Glad you had a chance to see a few of the planes this past weekend at the Tools of the Trade show. I seem to recall someone looking rather intently at the Ebony filled A5ss smoother. It is too bad I did not have a bench at the show - it would have been fun to try the plane as well.


30 March 2010 at 22:26  

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Saturday 20 March 2010

English Boxwood lovers beware!

This boxwood infill set has finally made its way into a plane. There were a few points where I was a little worried some of the figure would be lost as I started refining the shape. When the above photo was taken - I was gritting my teeth a bit.

But after final shaping - this is what was left. I cannot recall seeing a more figured piece of boxwood. Ever. Despite all the figure, the fitting process went very smoothly and nothing “tore out”. There were a few small pin sized voids in a few of the eyes - but a drop of CA glue filled them nicely.

Curl and birds eye - what else could one ask for!

I applied the first coat of french polish to the A7 shoulder plane last week. True to form - the Rosewood came alive.

Another view of the front infill.

The rear infill is ready to be installed and I hope to finish up the A7 this week.


Blogger mckenzie said...

I really like you makers 'signature'. It's so crisp.


24 March 2010 at 15:13  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Tyler,

I have been using the same stamp for almost 10 years now.


24 March 2010 at 18:10  
Blogger Adrian Baird Ba Than said...

Very nice Konrad,as per usual.Boxwood is an exceptional material to work with,shame it falls into the same category as African Blackwood,rare & expensive.
Got to love that CA,not when it's in your good eye or on your favourite jersey though...
Looking forward to seeing the finished A7.
Cheers mate.

26 March 2010 at 09:36  
Blogger David said...

Wow that box wood infill came out outstanding! Is it sold?

27 March 2010 at 00:47  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Adrian,

Tell me about the CA... I have a few spots on various t-shirts where I had to quickly sop up an oversized drip. The edge of a t-shirt always seems to catch it:)

The finished A7 should follow in a few hours.


27 March 2010 at 06:44  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi David,

Sadly - the Boxwood SNo.4ss already has a home.


27 March 2010 at 06:45  

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Thursday 18 March 2010

The first A7 - part I

It is hard to believe that this is the first adjustable shoulder plane I have made - but here we are. Several people have asked about them over the years, but there were a few “issues” I needed to resolve before I was comfortable saying I could make one. The adjuster and the threaded sleeve (and top screw) were the biggies. Building the pair of Rebate mitre planes solved both of these issues, so it was only a matter of time before the A7 shoulder plane came to life.

I have kept my camera close at hand this last week as there were a few sequences that I thought might be interesting.

The first one is rather generic - but it illustrates the manner in which I work.

After the shell has been piened together - I measure the gap between the sidewalls. As long as the sides are parallel to each other - I don’t really care what this number is. Well... unless it is 1.124" and I am making a 1-1/4" wide plane - then I would have a problem. Although Riley would be happy... he would be all over the “scrap” bronze! Anyway - the plane is .002" wider than 1.000" which is a non-issue for me.

(front of the infill, bottom)

Because this is what matters to me. Early on in the planes construction - each part becomes specific to that particular plane. The front bun to “identical” planes are not interchangeable - they are individually fit. There are variations from one plane to the next - measurable in thousandths of an inch - but still variations. I have no interest in going the extra mile (or charging you to do so) to get rid of the .002" of extra space between the shoulder plane sidewalls. I care that the sides are parallel to one another, square to one another and that the fit between the infill and the metal shell are gap free.

(front of the infill, top)

(back of the front infill)

These three measurements are taken from three different points on the front infill. They are close - and slightly over sized. Perfect! It is kinda hard to tell from the photos - but the two readings from the front section are the same and the back portion is slightly narrower.

One of the true joys of woodworking is knowing your tools so well that you know how many passes it will take to remove .002" from the front of the infill and taper it back to the desired thickness. Once the piece has been made parallel - I can start working on the overall thickness. And that is how all the infill pieces are “fit” to their corresponding shells - on everything from this shoulder plane, to a 28-1/2" long jointer.

Here are a few photos to show the keeper (the bronze plate that supports the top of the wedge and registers the threaded sleeve).

The sleeve houses the bronze screw that engages a small cup that is inlayed into the top of the wedge. The cup is offset so the tip of the bronze screw works as a drawbore - as it is tightened down, it pulls the wedge in.

The two tenons of the keeper.

The underside of the infill showing the recess for the shoulder on the threaded sleeve.

The keeper and the bronze sleeve.

The next sequence shows the shaping of the back of the rear infill. I apologize - there are a few steps missing here. In the above photo - the back of the infill is still “off the bandsaw” and needs quite a bit more work.

I use the bandsaw to cut the above radius and then refine it with rasps files and sandpaper. I have always found it is worth the effort to maintain square edges, clean transitions and smooth lines. Most of this clean radius will be removed during final shaping, but I am convinced that going through the process of working accurately prepares my hands and mind for the next really critical steps. Having clean crisp edges is also crucial because those are the reference edges for all other layout lines.

Here are the layout lines for the compound radius on the bottom edge of the rear infill. If you click on the photo - it will be easier to see the line on the side of the infill - graphite does not like to be photographed.

This is about 8 minutes and two files later. I start with an 8" half-round and then finish with a very fine half-round. From here I proceed to some sandpaper wrapped around a hard rubber form.

The last sequence shows the shaping of the front infill section.

Here is a shot showing the front infill section already pinned. At this stage - I have already started refining the arc of the front infill that transitions from being flush with the bronze sidewalls into the raised section that houses the sleeve. Note that the infill is still quite rough at the front of the plane.

This shot shows the refined radius in front of the keeper and the keeper now flushed with the top edges of the sidewalls. This was slow delicate work with files and then finished with sandpaper. Again - note the crisp lines of the edges.

This is a photo taken from the back of the plane looking forward. I use a paper template to layout the radius across the back of the front infill.

Here I am using a specific radius template to define the other side of the compound curve. When I was in design school - part of our kit included this great set of ellipse templates. They range in size from 1/8" to 2" and in projections of 10 degrees to 80 degrees in 5 degree increments. I cannot believe how many times I use these in my day-to-day work!

(a quick shot to show the Pickett ellipse book)

Here are the layout lines and some blue tape - just in case the file wanders a bit.

The first stage of shaping with the 8" half-round file.

Another view to show the end radius taking shape.

After the second file - it looks like this. I used a 6" single cut, mill bastard file for this work. From here it is onto a bit of final sanding.

And here is a shot showing the fully shaped and sanded section. You will notice there is a fair amount of sunlight in many of the photos. Good strong light is a key to shaping complex curves. Watching the light roll across an arc is a very fast and accurate way of judging if the curve is right or not.

I am not sure where this last photo fits into the order of things, but it was a good shot to show the fit between the infill and the shell.

That is it for now, but part II should follow in a week or so.


Blogger mckenzie said...

speechless. Can you call a plane sexy? thanks for the detailed steps.


19 March 2010 at 11:28  
Blogger tomausmichigan said...


Thanks for the brilliant series of photos! I feel as if I were in your shop, looking over your shoulder.


20 March 2010 at 14:23  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Tyler. I hope one can call a plane sexy... I have been doing so for years now:)

Best wishes,

20 March 2010 at 15:58  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey Tom,

you are most welcome - that was the desired effect.


20 March 2010 at 15:59  
Blogger Tico Vogt said...

Hi Konrad,
I really enjoyed this post. It's chock full of good information. That book of ellipse templates is a revelation.
Do you use scrapers in shaping? Also, what grit size do you work up to with your sanding?



21 March 2010 at 08:42  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Tico,

Glad to hear the post was useful for you.

I do use scrapers - but not that often to be honest. All the shaping is done with files and rasps and then finished off with sandpaper. I start with 220, then 320, 400 then 600. 600 wears very fast and I suspect it acts more like 1,000 grit in very short order.


21 March 2010 at 08:51  

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