With the bottom and side flattened, the next step is to work the mouth and shape the body. Doesn’t matter which you do first, or if you have a short attention span like me, feel free to switch back and forth to break up the monotony. For the blog post, however, we’ll cover one at a time.
Finish the mouth
With a slim file, work the mouth to even up the metal and wood, smooth the surfaces and adjust the mouth to final dimensions. If the wood overhangs the metal, a sharp chisel can be used to pare it back.
For this, I do most of the work with an ignition point file. It is very thin and easily slips through the mouth. If the mouth is a bit wider, a flat bastard file will be a bit faster and allow better registration with the wood faces to end up with a clean look.
Additionally you’ll want to round off the tips of the metal to avoid a sharp edge that can dig into a workpiece. I round off the bed side and do a counter angle and round off on the escapement side. Kind of like this (iron bed is to the left):
Take your time and make sure not to mess up the bed side—any mistake there and the plane will never work correctly. I wrote this in a few minutes, but spent 2-3 hours total on just this step to get it right. (Now you know why I alternated working the mouth and shaping the body) Use the iron occasionally to ensure everything is working right. On this build, I ended up with a twist in the iron bed somehow and had to carefully chisel and file the bed back flat.
For the body, you can shape as much or as little as you wish, depending on your preferences and available tools. As with other steps, there are multiple ways to do many of these. I did a lot with the benchtop sander, but also used files, grinder with flap wheel, rifflers, a router and sandpaper. Here’s what I do.
First step is to cut off any excess wood from our overlarge blank that overhangs the metal (handsaw works best, as you definitely don’t want to hit the steel with your table saw blade) Then I squared up the ends to fix this messy hacksaw cut
This was done with the grinder to get close and finished on the disc part of the benchtop sander.
After that, The body was shaped and cleaned up with the belt sander.
Added a subtle curve to the nose leading to the sharper curve at the top . . .
. . . and cleaned up the rear portion with some graceful curves
Once satisfied with the shape, it’s time to get rid of the sharp edges. I use a 1/4 inch roundover bit in a trim router to get most of the edges, being very careful not to hit any metal. The remaining wood can be blended to the curve with rasps and files or even sandpaper.
On the other side, the router won’t get all the way to the edge.
A few minutes work with rifflers and some sandpaper and we have a nice consistent roundover.
The rifflers were also used to further shape the top corner where the hand will rest. You’ll want to grasp this as you would use the plane and remove any pressure points. The area circled in red will most likely need to be taken down a bit to get a comfortable grip.
Next installment: From the body shop to the beauty shop
-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson