Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just Finished 812-50S Smoothing Plane, Going to Maine

When I say "just finished" I mean "just finished", I began to shape the rear tote for this plane today just after lunch and about 7:00 pm I was applying the last bit of french polish. Shellac is wonderful stuff! This was the plane I needed to complete to be ready for the trip to Maine for the Lie-Nielsen 30th Anniversary Open House.

This is the first plane in which I used some of the Macassar Ebony billet for the tote and knob. Macassar Ebony is quite dense and quite hard to work, even more so than Gabon Ebony which is soft by comparison. However I have to admit it actually worked better with hand tools than with power tools. When working wood of this type with hand tools you get feedback thru the tool that lets you know to be careful, with power tools the feedback you get is the visual damage that occurs when it chips or tears out and then of course the hands tool have to clean up the mess the power tools left.

I'm sure these pictures don't do it justice, but the interplay between the dark and lighter areas is very pleasing to the eye and adds a lot of visual interest that's just not present in the solid black ebony we've used in the past. It almost looks as if someone swirled dark and milk chocolate together.

This 812-50S is one of my favorite planes. It's a true smoother with a sole length of 8 inches, the iron is 1.875" wide. The weight is 4 pounds 4 ounces and the balance is quite nice in the hand. This one is going with us to Maine so if you're attending the L-N event stop by and have a look.

The heat index in Georgia today was so high I won't even mention the numbers. Just looked at the 5 day forecast for Warren, Maine. High 70s during the day and high 50s for the overnight lows. I'm looking forward to a break from the heat!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Something Different this Weekend in the Shop

I've been so consumed with plane making that it's been over a year since I've done anything like an actual woodworking project. In a phone conversation with another plane maker I made the statement " we should never get very far from woodworking because making furniture is different than making shavings". I followed that with "we'll be better plane makers if we continue to pursue other types of woodworking". Well like a lot of folks I guess I haven't been practicing what I preach.

I'll be participating in the Lie-Nielsen Tool Works 30th Anniversary Open House later this month so for the last couple of weeks I've been in the metal working room making plane parts, a lot of plane parts and then I made some more plane parts and a few plane parts after that. You get the picture? I've been making a lot of metal parts to very close tolerances and this takes a toll on a guy mentally and physically. Now don't get me wrong I'm not complaining. I live for making planes, but sometimes you just have to do something else.

This weekend I decided to pursue a woodworking project. I've been wanting to make the hanging Shaker cupboard pictured in this post for an awfully long time. I saw this piece at Pleasant Hill Kentucky many years ago and run across it frequently when thumbing thru some of my books on Shaker Furniture. When Chris Schwarz featured it in a blog post I was once again reminded of my desire to build this little cupboard. Saturday about 10:00 am I pulled out some cherry boards that I thought possessed the correct scale of grain for this project and by the afternoon I had enough parts roughed out for two of these. I spent most of Sunday afternoon completing and refining most of the parts and making the couple of glue ups required for the back and the front corners. By later in the evening I had most of the parts complete.

I was reminded of a couple of things while I was working on this little project.

(1) The guys at BenchCrafted make some great vises. As I was building this Shaker cupboard using my Shaker bench I never had to give work holding a second thought. The vises did just what they were supposed to do. They made work holding effortless.

Disclaimer: Jameel, Father John and Hunna Abraham are people that I consider very good friends, however that doesn't change the fact that the BenchCrafted vises are just awesome.

(2) Using hand planes makes very accurate furniture parts and saves a lot of sanding work. The cupboard in the picture has not been assembled. It is just freestanding on my workbench with no fasteners holding it together, only gravity and well fitted contact points. I mentioned sanding because I will be adding some age to this piece and that will require a few finishing processes that require a consistent scratch pattern for proper adhesion of the finishing materials.

Stayed tuned, when we get back from Maine I'll be getting the last details of this piece completed and will progress into the finishing process.