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.



  1. For folks who don't have much experience using shooting board-type planes, one of the key aspects to controlled use is how your hand lays on the tool and distributes pressure. It is a balance between sideways force, keeping the sole tightly registered against the side of the board, and forward thrust, which has to deal with some resistance to rocking, even allowing for the purposely wide plane body.

    The way Ron has positioned the knob allows you to capture it in the web of your thumb. The other fingers can direct pressure on the lever cap. This is a perfect set up for the efficient and comfortable use of the hand.

  2. Ron, Steve's plane is simply gorgeous. You really out did yourself, again. At 8 1/2 lbs it is also a great weight for a shooting board plane. I agree wholeheartedly with Tico's sentiment from above but I will also add that a heavy shooting board plane with a super sharp blade makes holding the plane in balance much, much easier.

    The only question that I would have is why, oh why if you are using Tico's shooting board don't you also have Tico's band with the music. This is called symmetry. :o)

  3. Hiya! Have you ever paid attention, have your writting skills gone any better lately?