Saturday 18 September 2010

Another Boxwood plane & a ridiculous first shaving

I have just completed the largest Boxwood filled plane I have made to date. Working with Boxwood poses one really serious challenge - how to keep the wood clean! It may not seem like a big deal, but Boxwood will pick up even the smallest amounts of dirt, dust or grime. On some days, I must have washed my hands a couple dozen times. When I was shaping the rear infill and the tops of the steel sidewalls, I had to take extra care when draw-filing to keep the hard steel shavings from embedding in the Boxwood. I would draw one stroke, clean the file (aka, wiped it on my shorts), take another stroke and repeat.

It has been a very long time since I have made either a jointer or panel plane without an adjuster, and I have to say - it was really fun. The lack of adjuster allowed me to use a handle treatment which Joe and I used on the very first panel planes we made. You can see it clearly in the first photo. As the top of the handle comes towards the blade, it drops quickly and then forms a gentle ogee curve that leads into the slot for the cap iron. Well... most of the original examples I have seen do not lead into the cap iron slot... but it is much cleaner looking when they do.

The other interesting aspect to this plane was the inclusion that appeared on the front bun. It is fairly common for Boxwood to have inclusions like this as it is a very slow growing scrubby tree that is often quite twisted. I personally love these anomalies - it is what makes Boxwood (and wood in general) so amazing. I have seen one of my planemaking heros, Bill Carter, use these inclusions to great effect. Thankfully, the inclusion was completely solid so there were no structural issues. I was most pleased when the customer contacted me saying he loved it as well.

When I am filing a mouth, I have to start with a fully tuned iron so I can accurately see what is happening. During the fitting process, I inevitably get a ding or two in the iron, which I always re-hone out before taking a few test shavings. I usually take the first test cuts on a fairly tight grained wood like cherry or pear and take both a heavy shaving and then a light cut to make sure the plane is working well in both situations. The mouth on this plane is between 0.004" and 0.005". After the mouth was done, I took a heavy shaving first. It worked perfectly. Then I tried a fine shaving. The above photo is what I got. I was pretty amazed. It is not very often that I get a shaving like this within the first few test cuts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello konrad.true machanical beauty and artistry.i can only look on in amazement.thank you for this site and a glimps into your day.true talent.lou

19 September 2010 at 18:24  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thank-you for the very kind words Lou. Glad you are enjoying the site as well.


19 September 2010 at 19:21  
Anonymous Francis Beaulieu said...

Beautiful! Is this a 16 1/2"?

Also, what are the pros of a plane with no adjuster? I am thinking about building a plane for my own use, and I'm still unsure about whether I should use an adjuster or not.

19 September 2010 at 20:56  
Blogger Konrad said...

Yes - it is 16-1/2" long. I am not really sure there is an inherent “advantage” to a plane without an adjuster - it really depends on how you work. Some people like adjusters - some do not. A plane without an adjuster is just as effective as one with an adjuster. If it does not have an adjuster, you will need to develop the skills to use a small hammer to set the iron. If you have an adjuster, you will need to develop the skills to use it.

I would suggest your first plane will be much easier to make without an adjuster. The learning curve is pretty steep and not having to worry about an adjuster might be a good thing.


19 September 2010 at 21:33  
Blogger Adrian Baird Ba Than said...

Wow,just wow!
I love,love,love Boxwood in planes & that is one massive & beautiful chunk of Buxus Sempervirens.
Of course it doesn't matter how pretty a plane is,& that is one very,very pretty plane,unless it works well.That shaving is insane & proves that this isn't just a vacuous blonde but a workhorse to be reckoned with!
What does she weigh & have you tried the 1 finger push test,I'm sure given the mass & gossamer quality of that shaving that this plane will peel wood without any downward pressure...
Cheers bud,

20 September 2010 at 00:14  
Anonymous Steve Branam said...

That is a gorgeous hunk of metal and wood and a magnificent shaving!

21 September 2010 at 06:00  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Black.

I have not tried the one finger push test... I will try to remember before I ship it out. It is not as heavy as it looks - Boxwood is not like African Blackwood. I will have to do the crude test... on the bathroom scale:)


21 September 2010 at 11:21  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Steve.


21 September 2010 at 11:21  
Blogger Steve Kirincich said...

Hi Konrad,
I love the plane and the boxwood. I am expecting some serious tool porn for WIA! Have you ever worked with hornbeam, and if so, how does it compare with boxwood? Thamks.


29 September 2010 at 12:34  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Steve,

Yes - WWIA will be a dangerous place - and for the toolmakers as well. We are just as drawn to beautiful things as the next guy or gal.

I have worked with Hornbeam before. It has a similar density to boxwood, but seems stringy in comparison. Is Hornbeam a stable wood?


29 September 2010 at 14:13  
Anonymous Brad said...

That is friggin' ridiculous! Keep those shavings away from static or you'll have a fire in your shop!

As always, Incredible work Konrad. One day my friend, ONE DAY!


9 October 2010 at 19:10  

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