Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Kit Plane Dilemma

Since appearing at HandWorks in May we have once again began getting inquiries about the availability of plane kits. I guess events like Handworks create traffic to the web page and when folks see that kit orders have been suspended I guess they naturally assume that at some point we will once again offer that product.

I can say with 99.9% certainty that we will not resume offering plane kits, and as of today those items have been removed from our web page.  Many of you will ask why?

 As our backlog of completed plane orders grew we had to make a change in the way we allocated our time in order to meet our obligations for those products. It seemed every time we needed a certain component to complete a plane, we had exhausted our inventory fulfilling orders for plane kits. This was having a negative impact on our ability to deliver completed planes in a timely manner, which of course is the main stay of our business.

My Mother always warned me to never say never about anything and so I won't say that at some point in the future we won't change our minds and decide to offer another plane kit product, but as of right now we have no plans to pursue that type of offering.

We certainly appreciated the customers that purchased kits from us in the past and regret not being able to offer this experience to future customers.

As a small business we have a limited capacity to produce and so it seems appropriate to pursue what we do best which is making hand planes to a very high standard.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Once Again......Did I Mention that I Like Olive Wood?

When I returned from the HandWorks Event I had a couple of days of paper work to take care. Mostly stuff I put off while finishing up the last few planes I needed to ship out to Iowa. That was okay because frankly I was pretty physically exhausted and need some downtime to re-charge.

When I returned to the shop I was reminded that I had an 812-50S plane very nearly complete sans wooden bits. This plane was for my good friend Steve Walls and I had tried my best to complete this plane so as to have it displayed at HandWorks but it was just not to be. Time ran out.

Sometimes haste makes waste and the piece of wood that was to go into this plane was not one you would want to be rushed in working. Quite a while back on a visit to my shop Steve had noticed this piece of Olive and inquired as to whether it was available for a plane of his choosing. I told him it certainly was but that it would be a while before it was dry enough to use, to which he replied, "I can wait".

The wait is over. I had anticipated the day I would turn this piece into plane parts because I knew if it survived the drying process it would be special. All looked good until I roughed out the rear profile of the tote. An internal stress check was revealed right above the curve leading into the neck area of the tote. To say I was disappointed would have been an understatement.

Misery loves company so I immediately called Steve to tell him the bad news. As I was talking to Steve it occurred to me that maybe I was throwing in the towel on this piece a bit too quickly so I decided the piece was special enough to invest a bit more time just to see how it would turn out. I'm glad I persevered. I set about forming a plan for repairing the defect in a way that would look natural with the rest of the piece. This piece has many dark contrasting streaks so I went with a dark repair that I hoped would blend. Sometimes faith and perseverance pay off.

When Steve and our mutual friend Charlie Levan make the trip to my shop to pick up a just completed plane for one of them it has become a tradition that I always make an apple pie which we mostly consume after lunch.

There will be apple pie at my house tomorrow and I'm looking forward to the pie and the company.

Oh, did I mention that I really, really like Olive Wood? Yep, I thought so. I like pie too.