When we left off, the two pieces of steel were machine screwed together, so it’s time to add the body.
While the steel and wood are still separate pieces, it’s a good time to mark out any major shaping you would like to do. The way I’ve built them allows for no tote if shaped well. Clamp the body and steel together, figure out where your hand will set comfortably and mark.
I cut the metal with a jigsaw and the wood on the band saw. There are plenty of other ways to do the same tasks, depending on your available tools. On the first couple of planes, the steel was cut with a Dremel and cutoff wheel and the wood with a coping saw.
Let me say that most of these next steps could probably be skipped and the plane would still function just fine in the end, plus not doing them will save quite a bit of time, both now and even more later. Please read the post through before deciding whether to go through the effort or not. Obviously, I felt it was worthwhile or wouldn’t have spent the time and effort. See what you think at the end.
The decision that has to be made is how to attach the body to the steel. I’m going to use the brass screws, plus epoxy. First thing to do is lay out where the screws need to go. Take into account stress points, location of other screws, the mouth opening and yes, aesthetics.
The bottom is fairly easy. The line marks the center point of the thickness of the wood body and I decided on four screws—one in front of the mouth and three behind, all right down that line.
The side is a bit more involved. I did some on either side of the mouth, near the edges and a couple more where there were large gaps between other screws.
Center punch all the locations and drill through using a bit just large enough for the screws to slip through. I’m using #10 screws up through the base and #8 screws for the side. Then the holes can be slightly countersunk. Just like when doing the machine screws, check the countersink by dropping in one of the slotted brass wood screws and checking that the bottom of the slot is above the steel.
The body and steel now need clamped together exactly how you would like them to be when finished. Any misalignment here will result in more work later to clean it up.
Once clamped up, pilot holes for the wood screws can be drilled. The best tool to make sure they are accurate and centered is a self centering bit, sometimes called a Vix bit.
If you haven’t used one of these, they are very useful. The tapered tip centers the bit in a countersunk hole and the end is spring loaded so that when pushed into the hole, it retracts and the drill bit extends to drill the pilot hole. Using the proper sized bit, start holes at all the locations you’ve previously drilled in the steel one one piece of the steel. I started with the base. The self centering bit doesn’t drill very deep, but will give a good start so you can drill to proper depth using a handheld drill or drill press. Install a steel wood screw into each hole. Using the steel screw cuts the threads easier than trying to do it with the softer brass screws.
With the base secure, the same can be done with the side plate. The vix bits come in different sizes, make sure to use the right one (a #8 pilot hole is 7/64, a #10 is 9/64)
While tapping, it was time to think tortoise over the hare, the next part is time to be the hare. We are going to epoxy the body to the steel, so you want to work quickly and have everything set and planned out before mixing. Back to the decision mentioned above. With the epoxy, the screws may not be necessary I don’t really know. The epoxy will do most of the work, so if you don’t want to do the screws, you should be fine. I like the extra security and using the screws as clamps, plus I like the look when done. You decide what’s best for you.
OK, moving on. Clean off the steel to remove all traces of machine oil, fingerprints or anything else that might interfere with the glue bond. This can be done with a variety of cleaners. I use brake cleaner.
Now you’ll want a slower curing epoxy, do NOT use the 5 minute stuff. West Systems or similar would be ideal, but if you don’t keep that around, I’ve had good luck with Devcon 2 Ton Epoxy from the hardware store.
Mix up a good batch of epoxy, spread it liberally on the wood body, including letting it run down in the screw holes. I like to tint the epoxy to something close to the final wood color, so that if any shows or if there is a small gap, it gets camouflaged a bit. Once you have the epoxy spread, quickly position the body on the steel and attach with the brass screws. The epoxy in the holes ensures they won’t ever come out.
Set the blank aside so the epoxy can cure.
Next installment: Flat is where it’s at
-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson