Plane Making & Irons
Its hard to imagine doing the work we do without a fine wooden plane. Jim often referred to our hand planes, as instruments, at its best a ‘Stradivarius’. In this segment of the program, we begin the lifelong journey in plane making. Since making my first plane in the fall of 1987, I have made a few planes each year since, and have had the pleasure of introducing the making and use of wooden planes to hundreds of students world wide.
We begin with the preparation of our breakers, and the careful fit required to the irons, prepared previously. The stock for our jointer plane is milled to final thicknesses and the inside surfaces are cleaned up and mated using our cabinet scraper. The ramps are laid out and cut on the bandsaw. The rear ramp is flattened and squared using our block planes, and the forward ramp with a gouge and or scraper. The iron is used to determine width of the chamfers which are dialled in using a block plane and or a chisel. A slot is milled on the rear ramp using the shaper to accept the cap screw of the iron assembly. The center block and cheeks are positioned and clamped, and locator holes are bored using one of our boring machines. The dowels are flushed and the cross pin location is laid out. The hole for the cross pin is drilled on the drill press, and chamfered by hand.
The cross pin is cut to length, and the tenon shoulders are cut on the table saw, and the tenon cheeks on the bandsaw. The cross pin is shaped and fitted to the plane using a file. A dry run is done in final preparation prior to assembly. When the clamps are removed, the ‘soul’ of the plane is flattened. Shaping and edge treatment is done using both hand and machine tools, and first shavings are taken.
The smoothing plane serves as a review of plane making, with more emphasis on shaping to fit the hand. Students may also take the time to make a plane adjustment hammer, further exploring the possibilities of shop made tools. Both our jointer and smoother planes are used throughout the program and our lives as a craftsman, and as we move onto Coopering & Curved Bottom Planes