For some time now I have wanted to build a hand plane but have always had some other project I need to finish first, well I decided that I would always have some other project to finish and just jumped into the hand plane project. The thought of building a project with tools I have made very appealing to me, so I thought a nice wooden hand plane would be a perfect start.
Cutting of the body went fast and I was soon able to dry fit all of the pieces together to see how the rough plane would look. For the bed I went with the 50 degree angle that was shown on the in the illustration. There is always a lot of debate as to the best angle for the iron to rest at and a lot of the decision depends on your intended purpose and type of wood, but for myself I typically like a higher angle.After doing a little research online I found a style I liked and a downloadable plan from Popular Mechanics website, this seemed like a strange place for a wooden hand plane plan but the illustration is great. Anxious to get started and not wanting to go buy more wood I looked around the shop to see what I had. I decided that a 6/4 wormy Chestnut board I had would be great for the body but for the sole and wedge I started with a Cherry… but after some welcome advice from Scott Meek of Scott Meek Wood Works, I realized that a denser wood would be more suited for the project and would help resist wear over time. I decide to go with Wenge as I liked the contrast against the Chestnut and I have always wanted to use it in a project.
As a side note I did not realize how hazardous Wenge dust can be and did not start out using adequate protection to keep from breathing in the dust. You can read more about this in my previous post Dealing with Toxic Wood Dust, but I can tell you this stuff can be rough if you inhale it.
One mistake that I made and did not realize until to late was that I should have glued that sole plate on to the rough stock before I cut it into the front, back, and side pieces. By not having the sole glued on before, I realized that I needed to glue sole plates onto each of the pieces and then clean the pieces back up again. I was concerned that if I tried to glue the sole plate one after the body I would have had a difficult time keeping the mouth clean and flush with the inside of the body.
Before gluing the plane together I order the iron and chip breaker, I went with a Hock blade that I ordered for Highland Woodworking. The blade was great right out of the package and with only a little honing was ready to cut. I used the iron to make final adjustments and placements before final glue up. After the glue was set I planed each of the faces one more time to make sure everything was square and flush.
For the final part of the process I needed to shape the body of the plane to its final dimensions. I decided to just freehand the shape onto the plane with a pencil. After a few adjustments of my lines I was satisfied and cut away the waste. All that was left was to sand everything smooth. Now, as for a finish there are many opinions as to whether a finish should be applied or not, but for this post I decided to stop at this point. However, I am going to put a few coats of Tung oil on for protection and….well I just think it looks better!
This plane works great and I could not more pleased with how it cuts with only a little adjustment. It was a great little project be build and can’t wait to build another.
-- Chris Adkins, http://highrockwoodworking.com/