Tuesday 22 September 2015

A K9 & two spare planes

We had an incredible summer which meant the plane making schedule was a little lighter. I did manage to get several planes done, one of which is this ‘Mystery Rosewood’ K9. It is a mate for this K13.

The sides and sole are 01 tool steel, the lever cap and lever cap screw are stainless steel. The bed angle is 50 degrees and the blade is 2-1/8" wide.

The infill is incredible material to work with and the color and grain is so striking. The black ink line through the front pad with dark wood on one side and lighter orange-red on the other side is my favourite part on this plane. The ink line passes through the handle as well, but the effect is best seen in the front pad.

When the kids go back to school - I hunker down in the shop and pick up the disjointed pieces from the summer work schedule. It is always the same - a little head scratching, some therapeutic cleaning, some organizing and long term planning. During that process, I always uncover little stashes of wood long since forgotten. In this case, an Ebony set roughed out in 2003 and a Honduran Rosewood set from 2005. I decided to make these two ‘spare’ planes in the gaps between customer planes.

The first plane is an XSNo.4. It is 5-1/2" long, with a 1-9/16" wide, high carbon steel blade (there is a PM-V11 blade also available). The infill is Ebony, the sides, lever cap and lever cap screw are Naval brass. The bed angle is 52.5 degrees.

There are a couple of light colored ‘beauty marks’ on the rear infill... otherwise, it wouldn’t even look like wood.

This XSNo.4 is $1,800 Cdn + actual shipping costs (or $1,400 USD + actual shipping costs).

The next plane is a SNo.4L - the ‘L’ stands for long. This plane is 7" long with a 1-3/4" wide, high carbon steel blade (PM-V11 also available). This plane has the same footprint as the K7. The sides are 01 tool steel with a bronze lever cap and lever cap screw. The infill is Honduran Rosewood. The bed angle is 52.5 degrees.

This SNo.4L is $2,100 Cdn + actual shipping costs (or $1,650 USD + actual shipping costs). Send me an email if you are interested in either plane; konrad@sauerandsteiner.com


Blogger Kevin Brehon said...

Love the grain in the handle of the K9. Not quite as psychedelic as desert ironwood, but still pretty trippy!

22 September 2015 at 23:08  
Blogger jon said...

Hi Konrad,
Really love the K Series of planes you've designed. As always, the woods are stellar. Question for you, how do you lap the curved sides and keep them square with the sole? I am envisioning some sort of vertical fence with sandpaper with the sole referencing off your surface plate. Thanks, I always love reading the "how to" posts!

2 October 2015 at 07:58  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Kevin - sometimes less is more and this particular plank really does it well.

2 October 2015 at 11:35  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks for your comments Jon. Figuring out content is always a challenge.

I lap the sides on the same flat surface that I lap the sole on. I had initially thought I would use some sort of form to keep things square, but tried it without first and it worked. I did not need a jig as long as my square was close at hand and checked my progress. Besides - if the shell is square to begin with - maintaining square during lapping is not that hard.


2 October 2015 at 11:38  

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Sunday 13 September 2015

A Studley frame

In all likelihood, I am one of the few wood workers who did not have a poster of the Studley Tool chest hanging on my shop wall. So when I saw the photo, and read about the Art Print that was going to be available at HandWorks, I committed to it immediately. 

The tool chest itself was something I had seen many times in various photos and articles over the years. It certainly was an impressive tool chest, but the legend had grown to the point where I could not imagine it living up to the hype. I had an opportunity to see it (along with the bench), at HandWorks this past May, and I have to say, the hype was deserved. I was pretty stunned actually. The three dimensional experience of viewing the chest is what really floored me. It was the depth of the layers of tools that was so incredible. It was like viewing a topographical map made of Mahogany, Rosewood, Ebony and steel, all arranged and organized with thought and precision. The details of the shelves, ledges and tiny mouldings were impressive, but it was the layout, the design of the layout and the different elevations - the use of positive and negative space, the way certain items were arranged to give areas weight and balance... it was awesome. 

And I was not expecting it to be that awesome. 

I picked up a copy of the book (Narayan and Don were kind enough to sign it for me), the Art Print, and started planning the framing. 

I worked part-time in a framing store through high school and college, so had a pretty good sense of how framing worked. Making my own frame was a no-brainer - and the materials were obvious too. A Mahogany frame with an Ebony edge.

I did a quick sketch to get the dimensions figured out - the reveal around the image so the edition and signature could be seen, and the width of the matboard (with a weighted bottom). This gave me the dimensions for the frame.

The photography in the book is wonderful, and it did not take long to find a few close-up shots of drawers and other detail that showed the profiles of the various mouldings. It made the most sense to emulate the moudlings in the tool chest in the frame.

I had a decent sized off-cut from making the guitars, and it turned out to be the perfect length for the frame. I decided to make 2 frames - one for my print and another for a good friend. The process was a little unconventional, but it worked very well.

The photo above shows the fully shaped pieces for a frame on the left, and the glued up block for the second frame on the right. I decided to build it this way so I could have better control of what would become a very thin piece of Ebony on the inside edge of the frame. I knew I would waste some Ebony with this process, but I think the control of the process justified it.

There was a dado cut into the center of the Mahogany blank and the strip of Ebony was glued in. I think the strip was 3/8" thick and 1/2" wide and maybe 30" long.

Once the glue had dried, I split the block in half and planed it smooth. This allowed me to have the Ebony edges easily accessible to cut the profile.

When the profiles were cut, I used the table saw to make a kerf that defined the underside of the Ebony - the surface the glass would rest against. Once those were cut, I split the two pieces on the bandsaw. I hand planed those surfaces and then to the table saw for the last cut to form the dado (for the glass and matboard). I did not cut all the way though - I left 1/32" to keep the piece a little more stable as I ran it through the saw.

The waste piece broke out easily, and my shoulder plane made quick work of cleaning everything up. 

The 4 mouldings.

And a detail shot of the Ebony quarter round.

All these months later, I find myself thinking about the tool chest more often than I would have ever imagined.  I may never fully understand the impact of the experience and why it was so compelling. If there is another public viewing of the tool chest - I will go to great lengths to see it again. Yeah - it really is all it is cracked up to be, and it is nice to know there are still things that can knock your socks off.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great frame.

The poster, however, is nowhere close to the original FW poster. As many have said, the backdrop looks awful.


13 September 2015 at 19:04  
Blogger Mike Mavodones said...

I agree that this print is nowhere close to the original FW poster. It is about two light years beyond the original in composition, lighting and focus. The previously unknown bench and vises? Let's call them a bonus.
I have spoken to thousands of people about this tool cabinet and the poster (I have a big mouth and I was one of the docents at the exhibition-thousands is not an exaggeration). I've heard no other negative feedback on the background.
I have a copy of the original poster that I have treasured since I got it. In my opinion, the new poster exceeds it in every way-except nostalgia.
Your opinion may vary from my own.
Best regards,
Mike Mavodones

14 September 2015 at 07:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, opinions vary among people.

In time, when we compare the no. of posters sold, we'll know if it's nostalgia or anything else.

The backdrop is distracting to say the least and the way the chest and the bench are presented is equally amateurish. The chest should be hung on the wall above the bench placed against the same wall. Where could we find a tool chest in a real shop rested on a workbench?

I have the original chest poster, not the reprint and this "light years beyond" poster? Thank you very much and it will not have a chance to be seen or posted in my shop.


14 September 2015 at 11:22  
Blogger raney said...

I have to agree with mike - the original poster always looked really horribly washed out and unevenly lit to me. I was frankly never especially impressed with it, or the chest, in the past. I gave it a second chance because so many people whose opinions I have reason to respect told me it was worth the hype.

They were right.

Well put, Konrad. - and beautiful job on the frame.

I was much more impacted by the chest in person than I had any expectation of being. It was a brilliant bit of design, and honestly one of the better testimonies to what an obsessive and focused human is capable of at the outer limits. It was really mind blowing to see the design interplay at work across such a staggering array of scales. Virtuoso was an aptly chosen name.

As for the new poster, I thought it was magnificent. I suppose I'm potentially biased because the photographer is a friend, but I think anyone who knows me will attest that I'm hardly shy about criticizing my friends' work when I am not taken with it.

14 September 2015 at 16:27  
Blogger John said...

Glad to see that shoulder plane in action. Beautiful frame, dude. Not a fan of the Studley chest, though. That things gives me the creeps.

15 September 2015 at 22:36  
Blogger John said...

Nice frame, dude. And glad to see the shoulder plane at work. i do not share the enthusiasm for the Studley chest, though. That thing gives me the creeps. I like light, airy, simple and free. That thing is the claustrophobic, dark, anal opposite. Actually, I'd go even farther and call it the Donald Trumo of woodworking projects; grandiose, full of crap, and antiquated. Hmmm....not sure I phrased this post strongly enough.

15 September 2015 at 22:49  

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Wednesday 2 September 2015

mock-ups - expanding the family

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the KS-1.5 would have siblings. The question for me was, are they just narrower versions, or are they fully scaled? I was on the fence about it for a few days, but in hindsight, I think I knew all along that scaling was the right call (and a great design challenge). A good friend gave me an affirming nudge towards scaling and the design process began.

Scaling work is usually not as simple as just shrinking something down by 10-15%. On rare occasions it works, but it is usually obvious, and leads to a host of issues. The biggest issue with scaling a plane is that our hands do not scale along with it. I was pleased to see that the design scaled very well, and with some tweaks in a few key areas (the shape of the wedge, the scoop at the front), the drawings looked good.

There are four additional sizes, 1-1/4" wide, 1", 3/4" and 1/2". I made a 1/2" x 6" shoulder plane several years ago and loved the size of it. That seemed like a logical plane to reference for the smallest version. I decided to mock-up the smallest plane first - the thinking being that if I had the largest (1-1/2") and smallest (1/2") planes figured out, the planes in between should be easier.

I also decided to make a mock-up of each plane. Mock-ups have proven to be an invaluable part of the design process. I learned to make mock-ups in design school but for some reason, it took me a while to apply the methodology and process to plane making and furniture making. I have fully embraced it now, especially when dealing with curves. It can feel like a waste of time when you are in the middle of it, but there are always those ‘aha’ moments when you realize something significant, and are suddenly grateful you are not working with expensive materials. I spent a week making a mock-up of our dining chairs, and it proved to be the most valuable week of the project.

The other advantage of mock-ups is it allows me to practice process. I have gotten in the habit of keeping the shop camera close at hand to photograph all sorts of stages of work. Reviewing these photos is extremely helpful when I need to remember what the heck I did earlier. But process is not just about seeing how things are done -it is about practicing the movements of the actual work. Shaping the front pad on the first K13 took hours and hours of careful, methodical work. It was a completely new form for me to shape and the curves are rather complex. I have made quite a few K13’s since the prototype, but I had the prototype at the bench for a reference as I worked on subsequent planes. After shaping 5 or 6 more K13 front pads, I had the movements memorized and no longer needed the prototype for reference. The shapes and curves on the KS-1.5 were even more complex than the K13, and I was happy for the practice on the 4 mock-ups.

I even went so far as to trim the ‘Mahogany sidewalls’ from the ’infill’ to accurately reflect what a real plane would be like. It felt a little silly to take it this far, but it went a long way to learning the movements and the process of shaping.

Quick layout lines for the chamfering.

I wish chamfering 01 tool steel was this easy!

Here are several photos of the set of 5 mock-ups to show how they scale. There are going to be a few more tweaks to each of the final drawings before I make the prototypes, but I am very happy with how these turned out and am confident that they are close enough to proceed. I am also looking forward to having my own set of these - all in African Blackwood like the KS-1.5.

And related to shoulder planes, I received an email last week from someone who is interested in making their own shoulder plane. He asked if there were any tips I could pass along as well as how the blade on a shoulder plane is installed and removed. I took a few photos to show the process.

 The blade slips into the plane from the back at an angle. When designing a plane, the diagonal distance between the bed and the keeper (the metal insert that is twin tenoned into the sidewalls) needs to be wider than the blade in order for this to work.

Another view of the above image. Notice how the side of the blade is now completely visible. This is also important because it allows you to shift the blade to one side....

 ... like this. The other side should now be clear of the sidewall too. You may need to push the blade forward a bit more - like in the below photo.

And then you can just drop it down onto the bed.

Grab the wedge, let it drop into position, give light hand pressure and you should be good to go.


Blogger Greg said...

In the last few shots it looks like a skew plane .

3 September 2015 at 02:15  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Greg,

Not a skew plane - just the effects of a wider angle lens.


3 September 2015 at 05:04  
Blogger Steve Kirincich said...

Hi Konrad,
I am glad to see that family planning is no longer a taboo subject!


3 September 2015 at 09:18  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hey Konrad-
it's great to see this process! The steps involved and the thought process behind them.
As always, thanks for sharing~

talk soon

6 September 2015 at 07:03  
Blogger Chris Bame said...

Nice Konrad,
Can't wait to see the set in Blackwood

8 September 2015 at 12:42  
Anonymous Kevin said...

I can now see how the set works together. Desert Ironwood of the Dark Burl type in a year or two I think. Lovely design work as usual.

16 September 2015 at 10:37  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Kevin. I think I know the perfect, dark Desert Ironwood burl.

best wishes,

16 September 2015 at 11:48  

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