Thursday 15 February 2018

Experimenting with a new material

A friend stopped in a little over a year ago with some show-and-tell... a block of dyed and infused Box Elder burl (more commonly called Manitoba Maple in these parts). He had several pieces - different sizes, different colors, but this one really stuck out for some reason. The price was fair for what it was - and no different than what a good quality piece or Rosewood or Ebony of the same size would sell for. So I bought it - curious to see if this would be a suitable infill material. The color was outlandish - but in a good way, and I figured that if it would work, an all steel plane would be the right way to to. A K6 or a K7 seemed about right - shown above with my K6 prototype. 

The block sat for almost a year. I picked it up every couple weeks or months, rotated it, tapped it, and put it down. Then for some reason I decided to see if I could plane it. I was surprised that perfect little blue shavings came through the plane - and the blade was not destroyed in the process. That was what I needed - some indication that this material would feel and ‘work’ like many of the exotic woods I use. It was a quick trip to the bandsaw to rough out the front pad and rear infill for a K7. It cut on the bandsaw like wood too... another good sign.

The next real test was working with handtools - how would it saw, would chisels work - and would the material kill the edges? Once again, I was pleasantly surprised - felt an awful lot like the materials I was used to. 

Once the rear infill was fit, I knew this was going to work - and was really excited to see the plane to the end. The pace quickened and I was back in the excitement of prototype mode again. It was a great feeling after almost a year off as my shoulder healed.

The inside of the front pad was the first surface that I ‘finished’ - no french polishing required. I sanded to 2000 grit and then buffed with a polishing pad and a quick coat of paste wax. The surface felt and looked wonderful!

The front pad and rear infill installed.

Finalizing the bed and blade fitment. 

I used to think the Pink Ivory K7 prototype was outlandish looking... it looks pretty pedestrian compared to the blue Box Elder.

The top of the front pad roughly shaped on the bandsaw.

The continuous chamfer completed and polished.

And finally the finished plane. 

I could not be happier with how it turned out. The sides and sole are 01 tool steel, the lever cap and screw are stainless steel.

I will continue to experiment with different species and different colors, and am really excited to incorporate this new material into plane making. I know it will not be for everyone, but I for one am really excited about all the possibilities. 

I have decided to offer this plane for sale – $2,950.00 Cdn + actual shipping costs. Roughly $2,415.00 USD based on the current exchange rate. send me an email if you are interested.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This looks amazing!

15 February 2018 at 16:04  
Blogger Daniel said...

Nice to see the complete story here - I've enjoyed the Instagram play-by-play. So glad for you that your shoulder is behaving! Nice to know that there's a (somewhat) more readily available material that behaves in a similar way to your amazing selection of fine woods!

16 February 2018 at 13:11  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Daniel,
Glad you have been watching along on instagram as well. It is funny having these 2 social meadia outlets. Instagram has certainly gained more attention, but the long form version of information and more indepth storytelling is still nice sometimes. I am hoping the new material will be well received and slowly start moving into that direction. It opens up so many possibilities that frankly, we all need to start moving towards. cheers,

16 February 2018 at 14:08  
Blogger Pedder said...

It will never beat the boxwood steel combination for me. But it is nice as everything from you shop!

This instagram is good to bring pictures to the public, but awful to transport any letters.


(petter appelgreen)

17 February 2018 at 03:20  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Pedder. Interesting that the boxwood and steel combination is what does it for you. people either love or hate boxwood in a plane.. a little like this blue box elder i think.

best wishes,

17 February 2018 at 07:35  
Blogger Kevin Brehon said...

It was exciting watching this plane come together on instagram, but it is also satisfying to see the long form too. Not everything we do needs a blog post, but not everything can be said in a picture either. I am also excited about the possibilities for new infill materials that this opens up.

24 February 2018 at 11:03  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Kevin,
Glad you have enjoyed watching along. Instagram has been really good for video posts and the ability to show process in that capacity, but is missing the long form feel for sure. It is such a short attention format.
I am also really excited about the possibilities of using infused (localish) materials as viable infill options. I love exotic woods - especially the Dalbergias, but they are becoming increasingly problematic for a lot of reasons. Not to mention that doing something new is always exciting - and bright blue shavings and dust on my shop floor is pretty fun.

24 February 2018 at 12:18  

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