Wooden Planes #11: Jatoba block

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Blog entry by Mark Kornell posted 04-16-2014 03:31 AM 2908 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: High-angle Block Part 11 of Wooden Planes series Part 12: Jatoba smoother »

Next up is a 50 degree block plane.

The body is jatoba with an ipe sole. The stripe in the middle is ebony and beech.

Iron is a Hock 1 1/2”. Finish is Waterlox and wax. Thanks to the jatoba and the Hock iron, this thing weighs more than some metal block planes. It fits very comfortably in the hand.

Jatoba is extremely hard and dense. Sanding end grain is about the same as sanding hardened steel. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. Forget about doing any shaping by hand, it was all done on a belt sander starting at 60 grit and moving up to 180. I did use 220 and up by hand to polish it a bit.

I find the front of a little bulbous. I used a bandsaw to get the basic curves in, and then a series of round over bits to put on the edges. I got as close as I could, but it apparently wasn’t enough, as I wore out the 60 grit belt I had before I could get to the shape I wanted. The higher grits were only good for taking out coarser scratches, not any kind of shaping. I finished it as it was, and while I could take it back to the sander any time, I am hesitant to do any more shaping on it because it fits my hand so well.

Its only flaw is the mouth opening, about 1/16”. It is very rigid and will take any kind of shaving I want, from just under 1/16” on softwoods down to ones I don’t trust my caliper’s reading on. I’ve been meaning to put a plate in the sole to tighten up the mouth – perhaps make it from brass – but I keep convincing myself that there are more pressing things to do than fix something that already works well. And besides, a finely set cap iron will take care of most issues with a large mouth.

How did I mess up the mouth? I typically make the mouth a hair over 1/8”, and then use small sanding blocks to open it up to fit the iron. In this case, the thick Hock iron means a lot of sanding. As tough as jatoba is, the ipe sole is even tougher, so it isn’t like I just sanded an extra 1/32” by mistake.

The clue is the line you can see behind the iron in the second and the last pics. When I cut the bed angle, I was very careful to measure it precisely and cut accurately. As it happened, I was measuring the wrong side of the angle, and got myself a very nice 40 degree bed. So I needed to recut the front part of the blank at the correct angle and ended up with a little 10 degree wedge to glue onto the bed. Basically, added an extra saw kerf, and that was enough to leave me a bit short at the front. I knew I was in trouble, but glued it up anyways figuring I could always patch in a plate.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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