CNC Handplane #1: CNC Handplane - Failure #1

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Blog entry by Matt posted 04-27-2009 02:29 PM 2900 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of CNC Handplane series Part 2: Plan B »

Didn’t Thomas Edison discover a 1000 different ways NOT to make a light bulb? I figured I have 999 more attempts to make a hand plane with my CNC before I start getting discouraged, by that measure.
My plans are to make a wooden hand plane with my CNC router. My plan is to cut a few prototype bodies just to make sure I have all my toolpaths ‘dialed in’ where they should be. This phase will also tell me if my equipment is up to snuff. (I already learned that I will probably need to get some longer mills. Maybe 4 inchers)

I also need to make a consistent method for attaching the blank and then being able to machine the entire outside and inside of the body. I devised a plate made from MDB (in the picture) with T-nuts. I then drill the blank slightly long, counter bore the holes to take 1/4-20 hex screws of varying lengths, depending on the piece. This part is working pretty good so far.

Now, the first body is probably not even a good shape for a plane but this was about getting the equipment performing the way I expect. That piece is nearly 8 inches long (not including the hold downs). Everything started pretty good. I used a 1/2 inch end mill for the first roughing pass. I had planned a 1/4 inch end mill for a 2nd roughing pass but opted against it. This is where I made the mistake. As I was running a relief cut with a 1/4 inch ball nose, I ‘dragged’ the bit and lost a few ‘steps’. This cause my X axis reference to be off. This is evident by the ‘stair-steps’ inside the pocket (they should have been removed) and the ridges on one end. Regardless – This is failure #1 and it provided some valuable lessons for me. As long as I make progress, I don’t mind messing up. This is gonna be fun!

P.S. Once I get my workflow and equipment dialed in, would anyone be interested in doing some trading of services? I’m offering some CNC services for plane iron. (Preferably, if you can make your own and they are thick). I could probably cut saw handle blanks really easily. Jig templates, etc. Name it. (As long as its smaller than 12X20. :)
Thanks guys!

Here are some pictures and video of the fun.

1/2 inch end mill – 1st roughing pass

Failure #1 in all its glory!

Video of the 1st roughing pass.

Here is a video of the relief pass. It was messed up a bit at this point but I think it’s cool watching things take shape.

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

4 comments so far

View Ampeater's profile


440 posts in 3743 days

#1 posted 04-27-2009 04:24 PM

Very nice. I’m sure you have a lot of time invested in that. Keep posting as you continue making the plane.

-- "A goal without a plan is a wish."

View Matt's profile


181 posts in 3368 days

#2 posted 04-27-2009 06:52 PM

Not as much time as you might think. I think I had about 30 minutes in creating the 3D model and generating the toolpaths. Total time to make the cuts was another 30 minutes, and that included switching bits 3 times and ‘double-checking’ my alignment. This piece of wood was a bit narrow and I generated the toolpaths based on the actual size of the piece. The next time I do it, I’ll have it based on a wider workpiece so it will generate multiple passes when milling the outside of the sides. That is where my 1/4 ball nose dragged and, had I used a 1/4 end mill for a 2nd roughing pass, I probably would not have had the problems.

I’ll be trying another one tonight. I’ll definitely be keeping everyone updated on this project. Once you have your toolpaths set up for an item, repeating it several times is easy.

Who wants a hand plane body? I’ll probably be giving them away after a while!

Thanks guys,

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3389 days

#3 posted 04-27-2009 11:00 PM

Great first attempt!
for 1 hour time investment I think the results are remarkable….I’d be happy!
I think the machine saves a lot of time in the traditional planemaking process, removing waste material, but the fine work, mouth fitting, must be made still with hand Floats…....or…. are you planning to do this with the machine as well?
Does the machine head rotate to different angles or does it works at the same 90 degrees all the time?
Looks like I need the same machine with steel applications!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 3437 days

#4 posted 04-28-2009 12:49 AM

Nice try. CNCs aren,t as easy as people make out they are, especially 3d work, but you seem to be getting there. Agree with your thoughts on the longer bit and look forward to the finished article.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

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