Saturday, February 14, 2015

Wille Davis Winter Smoother #2

Metals and woods that contrast with one another create an eye catching plane. But metals and woods that compliment each other can create the same effect.

I've recently finish the second Winter Smoothing plane made in the Willie Davis style and it's actually quite similar to the first even though as you'll see no two pieces of olive wood are very similar to each other. In fact there is a large variation in color and figure in this wood and frankly it's important to get the knob and the tote from the same blank in order to have any hopes of them having a similar look. I typically turn the knob end grain so that, in and of itself, is going to create a different appearance as compared to many of the face grain surfaces of the tote.

The piece of olive that produced this knob and tote had a large degree of color variegation, probably the most I've observed in any piece of olive yet. It's these kind of characteristics that make each plane unique.

I've taken to applying True Oil to all brass parts. I started this process on brass pieces that had the aged patina finish applied to them, as a way to preserve the finish. What I've found is that it's a great process for reducing the maintenance on brass, especially if you're of a mindset to keep the brass bright. The oil enhances the color of the brass and gives it more of a slightly aged gold appearance. With two thorough coats of oil well cured the brass can be handled without the bother of feeling as if you need to re-brighten the brass after every handling that leaves finger prints and the like.

It may be practical to try turning knobs face grain in some of the denser woods. At the least it will probably yield an interesting look.

I'm also very curious to see how this plane will look with a very contrasting color wood like Macassar or Gabon Ebony. Whereas the olive actually compliments and works harmoniously with the oiled brass, either of the ebonies will be in staunch contrast. As I've stated before the different colors and finishes combined yield different results and it's one of the things that keep this work fresh and interesting, that and the feel of a gossamer shaving rising up out the mouth of the plane with very minimal effort. That's always the best reward at the completion of any plane. Look coupled with function......yes, I love my job.


The problem with me taking time off or going on vacation is “I don’t do nothing well”,

 Ron Brese

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Right in Your Own Backyard

When people look into traveling to see great feats of nature and wonderful accomplishments of mankind it's often suggested to make sure you see what's in your own background before you embark to points elsewhere. Lately I've found that is sound advice and have recently made a discovery very near to where I live that truly amazed me.

I live outside of Thomaston, Ga in Upson county. Where Upson county borders Meriwether county there has for quite a long time resided Camp Thunder Boy Scout camp. I can remember my brother spending weeks at Camp Thunder when I was still too young for scouting. A week during the summer spent at Camp Thunder was a rite of passage for young boys in our area.

Over the decades the facilities at Camp Thunder deteriorated and the place was in a state of disrepair. Fortunately some men hold their years as Boy Scouts as a very formative time and even as adults are proud of their time as Boy Scouts. Obviously Gerald Lawhorn was one of those men. He made his fortune with a chain of gas stations called Petro South and the endowment he gave Camp Thunder has transformed the camp.

I had no clue that a majestic and beautiful oak timber frame structure stood 21 miles from my house. This structure and some other smaller oak timber frame pavilions were constructed as part of the camp upgrade funded by Gerald Lawhorn. The camp is now called the "Gerald Lawhorn Canoe Center at Camp Thunder Boy Scout Camp".

There is also an array of large scale rocking chairs that allow you to rest yourself and marvel at the construction of the structure as you rock.

The structure is decked with tongue and groove 2 x pine to which a slate roof is attached.

There is also a monument at this site that states the ideals of the Boy Scout organization complete with bronze eagle.

This is only a small portion of a most grand playground that is located at this site.

And when you've thoroughly explored the Timber Frame pavilion and the playground you can then take a hike along the Flint river that flows just about 50 yards behind the pavilion.

As you can see this is an almost magical place for kids. My grandchildren loved this place.

Camp Thunder is actually located in Molena, Ga. for those looking to find this location on Google maps or by GPS.


Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Desert Iron Wood, Unique Material

Desert Iron wood has the highest specific gravity of any wood that I use whether it be for plane making or otherwise. In the wood data base it is listed as 1.21 specific gravity. If you compare it to Macassar Ebony at 1.01 specific gravity you would think it would be even harder.

The working characteristics are considerably different and in my experience the Macassar Ebony actually seems harder. I first imagined that Desert Iron wood might be particularly hard on the edges of chisels but actually this material gets out of the way of a chisel pretty well, however when trying to chisel in a tight inside corner it has a bad habit of fracturing.

By and large the working characteristics of this material are much different that I had originally thought. The initial whittling with a chisel to excavate material prior to the beginning of the rasping process goes quite well, easier than I had imagined. Rasping can tend to tear the grain and a coarse rasp needs to be followed by a finer tool.

This material is very abrasion resistant. Sanding this material can take up to 3 times longer than any other material I use in plane making.

The grain structure is very unusual which probably explains the tendency to fracture and is just a bit coarser than most dense woods.

Polishing this wood was certainly a learning experience. When applying a shellac polish you certainly will need to apply a couple coats of finish dedicated to filling the pores, otherwise the unique texture of the grain will show prominently.

As much trouble as this wood is to work and finish properly you are rewarded for your efforts in the end. Nothing looks quite like this material. When polished to a high level some pieces remind me of looking into a sunset. Within the same piece it's quite varied and interesting. You see something different everywhere you look.

In other words it's quite a worthwhile pursuit,


"The difference between a smart person and a wise person is that a smart person knows what to say and a wise person knows whether or not to say it." 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Recently Completed Brute, the Web Page is Back Up and Changes

I've not posted to this blog for a while and I apologize for the hiatus. We are on a schedule where we either have all our kids, spouses and grandchildren here for Christmas or non of them. This was the year we had everyone and we were very busy making plans, arrangements and accommodations.

Having a full to overflowing house gets a bit chaotic but we certainly have fun and when they all return home we miss the laughter that fills our home during their visits.

This year was a bit special because the Mason Family was preparing to move to London, England and that means the Grand Darlings will be an entire very large Atlantic ocean away. Thay have in fact made that move this past week and the grand darlings have already started at their new school in London. You can probably tell from the look on Maggie's face that she is not altogether thrilled with the hat part of her new school uniform, Katherine however is "rockin it".

It's a bit painful to me and Julie to know that we can't just get in the car and drive to Atlanta to see them. But life offers opportunity just so many times so they are off to a new life adventure and as much as we do not enjoy them being so far away we know that their life will be enriched by the experience. In this case you just have to let go.

To get a small glimpse of what Christmas is like in Georgia check out the video below. We do things a bit differently here for the holidays and sometimes we're even lucky enough to have weather that allows us to do these things outdoors. You'll want to change the quality setting to 720p for the best viewing experience.

Even though I received a flu shot in early fall I was besot by that unwelcome illness just as everyone was returning home. This kept me out of the shop for several days but this past week I've managed to complete a Brute shooting plane I had in process and make considerable progress on several other tools on my bench.

The web page is back up after being down for close to 3 days. We were obviously not the only ones affected by the domain verification requirements. When I tried to contact my web host to resolved the issue I was required to stay on "Ignore" or as some folks refer to it as "Hold" for quite a while in order to speak to a human being. Once contact was made the problem was solved rather quickly. As my friend Jon Fiant was would say, that's "one less thing". His favorite line from the movie "Forrest Gump".

We have made some changes to the way we conduct business at Brese Plane. We have changed pay systems. Because our transactions are much simpler and fewer than many businesses we decided we no longer really needed a shopping cart per se. Most of our transactions were usually for only one item at at time and for the few times we need a multiple item transaction we can certainly make other arrangements.

 We have also lowered the deposit amount required to place an order. Most planes now only require a deposit of $200.00 in order to secure a place in the cue. The only exception to this is the 125-38SBP (Brute) plane. It requires a deposit amount of $600.00 because we tend to turn those around in less time because that product is usually purchased along with a related product from Vogt Toolworks.

I hope everyone enjoyed their family and friends during the holiday season as much as we did. We wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.

We have not participated in a major woodworking event in several years now.  The next big event for us is Handworks coming up in May. If you look at the list of vendors and demonstrators schedule to be there, it's shaping up to be quite the event. Hope to see you there.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Web Site Problems

I've been notified as of this morning that the Brese Plane web page is not available. If you enter into your browser the result will most likely say that the web page is not available or does not exist.

The web page does exist and I believe this is an issue with domain verification. I will be contacting my web host to resolved this issue and hope to have the web page available asap.

I am here, making planes and will be blogging again soon,

Sorry for the inconvenience,


Friday, November 21, 2014

T-Shirts are Back

The Brese Plane "Just a Plane T-Shirt" is once again available. At one point we had discontinued offering the shirts even though we were still shipping them to customers that ordered planes and sometimes including them with planes as they were shipped.

We have restocked them in the Old Gold color and decided to offer them once again. These are heavy weight t-shirts of very nice quality.

Available on this blog page, see buy buttons below, and on the Brese Plane Web site Apparel page.

 1 ea. for $18.95 shipping included in the conus or anywhere a flat rate USPS package goes

Qty 1 Select Size Below

2 ea. for $34.95 shipping included in the conus or anywhere a flat rate USPS package goes

Qty 2 Select Size Below


"Don't let schooling interfere with your education", Mark Twain

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sometime Opportunity Knocks at Exactly the Wrong Time, Part 2

In an earlier blog post I featured the acquisition of a 1966 Powermatic 90 lathe that seem to make itself available at a time when the last thing I needed to do was stop to purchase a major piece of machinery. However It was apparent that I would be needing to upgrade my capability in a turning machine and sometimes you have to react when the right machine presents itself whether it's a convenient time or not.

The picture below shows the lathe as I received it. Not bad really but missing a few key components. It had received a paint job sometime in it's life in a high school shop and it was obvious that it was done by a student who was assigned the job for disciplinary reasons.

Don Gieger of Geiger solutions knows a lot of people in the turning community and he was kind enough to make a few phone calls in an attempt to locate a PM 90 tailstock for my lathe. He was successful and not only did he find one, it was for sale and it was in Atlanta less than 2 hours drive from me. That was the good news. The bad news is I paid more for the tailstock than I did the entire machine and it was a rusty nugget that needed a complete restoration including straightening the scroll screw.

The problem with having a fairly small work facility is there is no room for extra machines to await attention. When I bring something of this size into the shop I have to make time to do what needs to be done to make it serviceable so that I don't have to navigate around it for a month. Fortunately I sold my old lathe the next day.

I turned the knobs I would need for the planes I had in process at that time and then broke down the machine to do the functional part of the restoration. New headstock bearings, new 3 phase motor driven by VFD,  and new drive pulleys and belts. Yes my New/Old lathe would have digital variable speed in lieu of a Reeves drive.

While everything was apart for the functional repairs it made sense to go ahead with the cosmetic part of the restoration. No need to have to take it back apart again for painting.

Even though the paint it had received at the hands of the student was certainly not the neatest paint job I've seen it did however adhere very well so I just sanded the old paint, applied primer and 2 coats of the final color which is Rustoleum Sage Green.

I replaced all the assembly hardware. I purchased button socket head screws in a black oxide finish. I then polished the heads of the screws and applied gun bluing twice polishing them with steel wool between applications. Then I polished them on my buffer until I had something that looked like black chrome.  I acquired red fiber washers to accent the black.

I have the drive set up for a speed range that suits most of the work I turn on a regular basis. If I decide to branch into turning larger diameter items I may have to add a lower speed range option.

I found the outboard hand wheel on the auction site. Those do come available periodically. The PM 90 tail stocks not so much. Finally all the pieces of the puzzle were back together.

Even though this machine came along at exactly the wrong time and imposed on my shop schedule more than I wished I'm quite please with the end results of this restoration. Its ready to use and it resides in a permanent place in the shop. My shop has regained it's organization and I'm once again able to concentrate on plane making.