Friday, January 20, 2012

Winter Smoother - Friday

Friday was a day to get as much done as possible. I had to leave for the airport at 4pm, and I was still running the mill at 3:30. With Ron's help I managed to get the body of the plane entirely assembled by the time I left. The wood components got roughed out, and still need to be finished. Ron had made the lever cap the week before I arrived, and ground the iron as well. He perfectly anticipated what I could accomplish during my time at Brese Plane, including loosing half a day from the first pair of botched sides. Thank you Ron!

I hope to get some free time in the coming weeks to finish shaping the tote and knob, and I plan to take some video of that as well.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Smoother - Thursday

After hump day, (and three 14 hour days) I was in the mood for something other than plane making.

Luckily, Ron had thought ahead.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter Smoother - Wednesday

After Tuesday's highs and lows I woke up Wednesday morning enormously motivated to make good progress. Monday and Tuesday had both been 14 hour work days, with about an hour break for lunch and dinner. Ron and I would scrounge leftovers from the fridge, sit down for 20 minutes and head back out. Wednesday would be another 14 hour day. Wednesday night (Thursday morning actually) I went to bed, and when I awoke I realized I hadn't moved an inch all night. We were both exhausted. Thursday was a very important day, but more on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter Smoother - Tuesday

Tuesday was a momentous day at Brese Plane. I managed to almost completely negate what I had accomplished from Monday up until noon on Tuesday.  In one bonehead moment I completely destroyed my chances of making this tool, and in the next moment I was back on top.

For any of you who have read David Pye, just because machines are involved does not mean there is no workmanship of risk. With digital readouts, strings of decimals, and the tendency to invert figures (3.167 can easily become 3.176) the workmanship of risk mostly takes place in the mind, and not in the hand. Coming from a hands-on background, I would much rather rely on my eyes and hands to create, than on the mind to control a machine in a numerically controlled manner. I flunked Algebra in high school and college.

The video tells more of the story.

Note: These videos are in 720 HD. Make sure you enlarge the video for best viewing.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter Smoother - Monday

Jameel Abraham here. After a week in the Brese plane shop armed with a video camera, I'm sharing my experiences here, with Ron's permission. I'd like to thank Ron for allowing a tool-making neophyte as myself to post on his blog. I hope my experience doesn't sully Ron's golden reputation! Thanks, Mr. Brese.

~ ~ ~

For the last three years I've taken some time off in the early part of the year to visit my friend Ron Brese at his shop in Thomaston Georgia. This year I asked Ron if he would assist me in making a plane as a gift for a good friend of Benchcrafted. He happily obliged. So last week I spent several long days in Ron's shop building this plane.

But here's the interesting part. This is a prototype of a new line of planes that Ron has been developing for the past year. Before I arrived, Ron had begun his own prototype, in order to test out some of the details of the plane so my build could have a better chance of succeeding.  As Ron finished up his plane, I built mine, and they both came together as a sort of fraternal twins by week's end. My plane did not get completed of course in only five days. But more on that later in the week.

Ron did not have a name for this new line of tools. So after looking over Ron's prints last week, and seeing that he had written "winter smoother" on one of them, the name stuck. I'm not sure if Ron will keep the name, but for me this tool will always be the "winter smoother."

~ Monday ~

The first day of the build I roughed out the plane sides from precision ground 1018 steel using a bandsaw. After a quick course in basic mill operation Ron set me loose on his Bridgeport-style mill and I proceeded to mill up the sides of the plane, as well as the sole pieces and bedding plate. My constant fear was crashing the bit into one of the vises, the table, or the workpiece. None of that happened, but I did end up encountering some rather tense moments. At one point I was feeling pretty proud of what I had accomplished, and the next I felt like I was back in junior high industrial arts. Needless to say, I learned an enormous amount on Monday. Ron was an extremely patient teacher, and gave me a wide latitude in figuring things out for myself. That ended up teaching me a great lesson, but it also made for some frustrating moments. I guess the best way to learn is to make mistakes. I won't argue with that. As Monday drew to a close I set my plane parts in a safe place and breathed a sigh of relief that I had made it through the first day without completely ruining Ron's mill, or my plane parts. If I had known what Tuesday had in store, I may have just booked an early flight home....