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Archive for October 2013

  • Making the Shelf

    Tuesday 22nd October 2013

    Workbench Almost There

    So things have moved on and the bench is beginning to look rather fine in its own no frills utilitarian kind of way. Since my last post the work has centred around preparing and installing the shelf. The stretchers were a simple affair of notches and support battens all nailed into place providing a suitable foundation on which to fix the shelf boarding. The pine selected is the dregs left over from my tool chest build, this shelf provided the perfect opportunity to use it up. I could have just nailed down some square edge boards but I just wanted and excuse to revisit my Record 405 Multi-Plane (seen with its Stanley 45 cousin below).

    Multi Plane

    Now these Multi-Planes are not to every ones taste but I think they can be rather useful and compliment the utilitarian workbench rather nicely. The Record 405 is a very close copy/version of the Stanley 45 which was introduced in the early 1930′s, much later than Stanley’s 45 which was introduced in 1884. Inevitably when so many functions are bought together in one tool there are some compromises, the largest issue being set up time. One thing I must do is lightly rub down the metal bars that allow the sleds to be set at varying distances as years of sitting on the shelf has created a slightly pitted surface that does not slide so readily. One thing that is attractive about a secondhand multi-plane is the price. A decent one can be sourced for about £100.00 and when you divide that cost by the things it can do it’s pretty good value and good workhorse tool.

    Record 405 Uses

    So to business. No vice is yet fitted to the bench so I’m relying on Richard Maguire’s Tomes Holdfast. These simple well priced work holding devices have been a delight. Richard was kind enough to try them in 38mm sample bench top as I was concerned that all holdfasts I had seen were in very thick tops. I was reassured by his finding and have found them fantastic with no loss of grip on the thinner bench top and aprons. I have soon learnt why this type of bench is aimed at “Joiners” like me, that wide front apron has been fantastic for working on long board edges, something that often crops up within the world of making House scale doors. So you lucky readers (all three of you) get to see two more enthralling woodworking videos.

    Once the tongues and grooves were all finished I removed just a slight arris to soften the joint, not too much as I don’t want them to become dirt traps.

    Tongue and Groove Shelf

    And then finally to nail them in place with some more of those character filled rusty hand made nails…..

    Fun with old nails

    So if you do see a good value Multi-Plane please do pick one up, it’s a no frills workhorse and versatile. Don’t expect a refined super tool just decent piece of kit. The next step is to fit my face vice, ready by the weekend? Oh and just before I go, the obligatory shaving shot.

    Plough Plane

  • Preparing Wood With Hand Planes

    Monday 7th October 2013

    Jack Planed Timber

    So why on earth would you want to prepare stock by hand? It sounds hard work right, well perhaps it is and I for one would never convert all timber by hand. That said having the skill to convert timber from rough sawn boards to planed ready to use stock is a useful one to have. This enables you to take full advantage of wide stock without cutting it down so it can fit through your machines. It also allows you to work late into the evening without waking the neighbours! It’s not that difficult to do which is a plus and I hope this blog entry will encourage you to give it a go.

    Back when I built my Tool Chest I had a first go a preparing stock by hand. I only made the boards for the base using this method so I knew if the results were not as good as I wanted there was a place to hide. Luckily for me and the Tool Chest it all worked out fine. Now with bench build progressing it felt right to revisit the process again for preparing the shelf boards.

    One great thing about this is you don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive tools (unless you want too of course) . The basic tools can be had for £50.00 or so. Bargain! So what do we need? Well a decent surface on which to work would be a great start. Really anything will do as long as it sturdy enough not to dance around the floor when you get planing and it has a flat enough top. Securing the wood is important but again this can be done by screwing battens or blocks around the wood or by a more traditional method using a combination of dogs, holdfasts, battens or a vice. Whatever you choose make sure the wood is planted.

    Here’s a short video giving you some instruction on the type of planes I have. As you can see they are all vintage, if I was going to splash the cash on one plane it would be on the #4 but more on that later.

    Phew! That was painful, if listening to yourself on a recording is bad watching and listening is a whole other ball game! So to follow on from the video the first plane we want to grab is the Jack Plane and if your like me you’ll go for the wooden jack. The purpose of this plane is to remove any irregularities, twisting, bowing and saw marks very rapidly. This plane is all about fast removal of wood, not creating a surface for finishing. A flat surface created quickly is what we are looking for.

    Jack Planes

    As you can see in the photo below a Jack Plane has a wide open mouth so the thick shavings can pass through easily. The blade is also cambered along it’s width, further adding to the ease in which large amounts of timber can be removed.The cap iron should be set back from the cutting edge, enabling thick heavy shavings to clear quickly and finally don’t worry about having a highly refined plane with a perfectly flat sole (unless you want to of course) a basic robust tool will do the job just fine.

    Jack Plane Mouth

    A wooden Jack Pane is normally around 17″ long. It’s metal bench plane cousin would be the No 6 which is the same length or the No 5 or 5 1/2. The No 6 is quite heavy, some users may find this an advantage, others may find it tiring. The No 5 is smaller and lighter, which one works well for your will be down to experimentation. My recommendation would be to buy a wooden Jack Plane, they are cheap and ideally suited to the task of rapid stock removal.

    Jack Plane Blade

    Once the Jack Plane has been used to level the stock and remove the irregularities the longer Trying plane is then introduced. Being longer and more refined than the Jack Plane the Trying plane creates flat level surfaces. It features a tighter mouth, a cap iron set closer to the cutting edge and whereas the Jack Plane can get away not having a flat sole the Trying Plane must have a flat sole.

    Trying Planes

    If the sole is bent it will create a bent surface. To this end I add a word of caution. When buying longer vintage metal planes I would advise checking the sole with a straight edge before parting with your hard-earned cash. If you buy a long metal plane with a bent sole you will find yourself wasting at leat a few hours straightening it with abrasives. If you enjoy that kind of thing then disregard my next bit of advice. If you want great value for money buy a wooden Trying Plane. If you find the sole to be twisted or bowed it can be soon sorted with a decent smoothing plane. If you want a metal version look to purchase a quality item from a reputable seller and brand so you can return if there are any issues

    Trying Plane Mouth

    Trying Plane Cap Iron

    After the Trying Plane has provided us with flat and more refined surfaces the finishing touches are added by the Smoothing Plane

    This plane does what its name implies, smooth. Out of all the planes the Smoothing Plane should be the plane that is the most accurate, sharp and refined as it’s the last plane used on the timber.

    No 4 Smoothing Plane

    My personal favourite Smoothing Plane is the Bailey pattern No 4. From the vintage market planes made before the 1970′s are a safer bet than later offerings. Older No 4 planes usually have better quality components used within them. These old tools may need some refinement but this is easily done due to their small size. However if you are going to spend money on a quality plane this is the one.

    Smoothing Plane Mouth

    The mouth of this plane is tight, the cap iron is set very close to the cutting edge. It should be very sharp too. These measures help created a highly refined surface.

    Smoothing Plane Cap Iron

    So that’s the general idea, now lets see it in practice

    Hopefully this short article will give you a nudge to try a different approach next time you have some wide stock.

  • Toothing a workbench top – pointless?

    Thursday 3rd October 2013

    Small update, I experimented toothing a piece of wood with a small wooden toothing plane to see if it offered an improvement in grip. I found unless the toothing interacted with a sawn face there was no noticeable advantage in grip. I shall therefore omit the toothing of the workbench. Most boring update ever……………………

    So on that basis watch this instead. Frank Howarth is a woodworker worth following, I hope you enjoy this stop motion animation of his lawn chair build as much as I did.