Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Winter Panel Plane, a Bit Early

This plane actually started as an order for a Stainless 132-50P Panel Plane but when the customer saw pictures of the Winter Smoother from this past year he immediately called to ask if a Winter Panel Plane was in the works. Fortunately I was already thinking about a larger format plane for the Winter line of metal bodied planes and even though I pretty much had this plane sorted out in my mind I still had to put my ideas on paper.

As is usually the case,  putting my original ideas into a sketch just created a starting point. I left the sketch on my drawing board and every time I went into my office I would take some time to look at the sketch. Little by little I made further changes and refinements until finally I redrew the plane in the final version. When my customer saw the drawing he decided to change his order to this plane.

This plane is now on the way to it's new home in St. Louis. I had become attached and hated to see it go. Oh well, I get to have them all for just a little while. Besides, I have another one with Olive Wood bits very nearly finished and it has a twist.

This plane has a 2.25" wide iron pitched at 50 degrees and the sole is 11.125 long. The wooden bits are Macassar Ebony.


"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."
- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Monday, October 15, 2012

This Plane Has a Secret

Recently a customer sent me an older infill plane for repair. This led to a discovery. The infill in this plane had become smaller and the iron was no long bedding properly. When the rear infill became smaller it also reduced in height. This in turn effectively lowered the angle of the bed which rotated the cutting edge of the iron up which meant the plane no longer had a mouth.

In order to repair this plane I had to once again make the bed 50 degrees. This wasn't a matter of removing a high spot in order to regain the proper bedding. In this case I actually needed to add some material to the bed. There is not an elegant way to add a .010 thick piece of wood to the plane bed so I decided to use the same technique I use on my metal bodied planes. At the point in which the lever cap screw applies pressure I drilled a recess to house a brass seat. I could then tune the height of the seat in order to re-establish an accurate bed angle. This solution worked great for putting the iron back at the proper pitch, however this solution effectively moved the iron off of the wooden bed of the plane except for the point at which the seat was let into the rear infill. The question of course is whether this would change the feedback the planes gives the user in use.

Miraculously I could tell no difference. The dampening was still taking place and of course this begs the question of whether it's the iron on the wood or the fact that the plane is completely infilled with wood that gives it that dampened feel in use. Of course the upper section of the iron was still separated from the metal structure of the plane by the wooden infill.

I had been contemplating a plane that was infilled yet bedded the iron on a metal bedding plate of the type that I use in my metal bodied planes. I had the perfect candidate for this experiment. The next tool in my schedule was a shooting board plane that I was to make for my good friend and customer Steve Walls. He gave me free run with the design of the plane as long as the outward appearance of the plane remained mostly unchanged.

The finished product was a plane that outwardly looked almost identical to prior versions of my Shooting Board Plane. However the secret was under the iron.  A metal bedding plate that was integral to the plane sides and a brass bedding seat.

Not having a wooden bedded version to test side by side makes my impressions of this plane somewhat speculative. However from the best of my memory this plane feels just like the prior versions in which the iron was bedded directly on the infill. I think this idea needs further exploration.

Besides the bedding plate this plane has been updated a bit. It features a new style lever cap, it now uses a 2.125" wide iron in lieu of the 2" iron in prior planes, the sole thickness has been upgraded to .437 thick, the sides have been changed from .250 to .187 thick and the body is now made from high carbon steel. This was also the first of these plane in which I used Macassar Ebony infill. With these changes and the Macassar Ebony infill the plane weighs right at 8 1/2 lbs. This kind of mass in a shooting plane is really nice.

Below is a short video showing this tool in action. It also provides a good look at an early version of the Vogt ToolWorks shooting board.


Monday, October 1, 2012


I'm not one to wish my life away. When you begin to get older you actually wish time would slow down. I am looking forward to cooler fall temperatures but I'm especially looking forward to next spring. However I'm not in a hurry because I need time to prepare.

As much as I enjoy fresh spring flowers and the emerging green foliage that signals the end of winter I'm especially looking forward to Memorial Day Weekend 2013.

On this weekend the Hand Tool Woodworking Community will be coming together at the Festhalle Barn in historic Amana, Iowa. I've been to this timber framed barn and as I was walking thru this building I could see this event taking place in my mind......and it was perfect! When you look up at the structure of this building it makes you think about time honored craftsmanship. What better place to hold an event that celebrates working wood with hand tools.

You can pick on the banner below and it will take you to the event web page so you can get all the details. But this much I can tell you will be happening. Saws will be sawing, planes will be producing all manner of shavings and a lot of old friends will be coming together in the spirit of working wood. I for one will be looking forward to making some new friends as well.

Hope To See You There!


"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
- Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)