Tuesday, April 29, 2014
A Recently Completed Winter Smoother and the Hard Part of the Build, A Note About WIA 2014
Sometimes you set out to build a plane and every process makes you work for any bit of progress you make. Sometimes it goes quite well, as if the plane actually wants to be together. The plane featured in this blog post was one that wanted to be together.
There are options when ordering this plane. Which type wood for the knob and tote, brass parts with a bright satin finish or patina'd brass. Every once in a while a customer will specify exactly the details that I would choose if I were building the plane for myself. As lovely as this sounds it creates an inner struggle.
On one hand you're really looking forward to seeing the plane together in that particular configuration, on the other hand you know after it's finished you'll have to pack it up and send it off. Oh well....such is the life of a plane maker.
In this case the wood chosen was some of my old Picasso Rosewood. If you attempt to research Picasso Rosewood you probably won't find anything past a mention of this wood on my blog or on various woodworking forums. It's actually a nickname for this particular batch of rosewood log segments I acquired quite some time ago. Some of the log segments yielded much better pieces than others and the log segment I'm working thru at this time is particularly interesting.
The brass pins on this plane were installed using a slight variation of the earlier technique. After drilling for the pins I reamed the hole to .124. This creates a .001 interference fit as compared to the .002 fit I used on an earlier version of this process. I also put the .125 brass pins in the freezer for about half an hour prior to installation. I transported the pins to the shop wrapped in a plastic bag that contained ice to keep them cold right up until time for installation. They pressed in much easier and went deep enough so that the tip reached the bottom of the hole and the top of the pin began to deform when seated completely. Counting the brass pins and threaded steel pins there is a grand total of 28 assembly pins in this small plane.
Over the years I've discovered that bringing the finish on brass up to a near mirror type finish is just not suitable for a tool. It shows finger prints so easily that you could drive yourself mad trying to keep it pristine looking. A satin finish that is oiled is much easier to live with and requires much less maintenance.
Of course the hardest part of this build was actually packing the plane up for shipping. I certainly would have enjoyed having this one around for a while. This plane is pitched at 50 degrees and uses an iron that is 1 7/8" wide. The mouth is set at 4 thousandths. This plane holds the wood fibers quite tight as it's shearing. The piece of boxwood I used to set up this plane was left with a polished surface that was highly reflective and was cool to the touch.
I actually prefer small smoothers to larger planes. The mass to iron width ratio is very well balanced and that makes this tool quite easy to use. The smaller footprint means you typically get to the bottom of the deepest imperfection sooner. The smaller size also means it's easier to use on the edges of boards.
This was the year I planned to return to the Woodworking in America Conference, however it doesn't seem as though it's to be. A commitment to our customers that have orders placed with us will once again take priority and so we will stay in the shop and make planes in lieu of creating a great deal of upheaval in our schedule in order to have what we would want to display at an event of such magnitude. Maybe next year.