I normally don’t buy old wooden planes, since I can make wood planes much better that are suited to my purposes. However, like any other hand tool addict (lets face it, we’re addicts not casual users) I occasionally adopt things that need a good home.
What could need a home more than a former inmate?
Auburn Tool Co repeatedly used prison labor within Auburn correctional facility in New York to create their tools. The contracts to do this constantly changed hands but A Howland and Company held the contracts between 1869 and 1874 (sources seem to disagree as to if this company did in fact use prison labor or not…further research on this point is needed on my end….). If the design of the plane seems familiar it’s because the company will eventually evolve into Ohio Tool.
The quality on the plane is amazing, I can’t help but think that the world would be a better place if we were giving prisoners skills to to earn an honest living but that’s another post for another forum. Le’s start messing with the wood.
First issue I noticed was the insane tightness of the iron I could not safely fit the iron into the plane once I got it out. 137 years will remove a lot of moisture from wood, so this is not so much a manufactures’ defect as time taking it’s toll on things. A small split developed in the sole but it’s not going to mess anything up as long as I don’t let it get any bigger. Let’s give the plane some breathing room so this does not happen.
Details like this make a difference. This raised section really speeds up the matching of the iron and the breaker but as you can imagine is very expensive to produce. Because of this quality feature it best to work the Iron and chip breaker as a set.
I start by carefully filing the sides with a mill file. A saw vise makes a very gentle clamp for the Iron -Breaker assembly. Alternate the sides you file and try to maintain square with the cutting edge. Smooth up the edges on sandpaper, use a good flat reference surface, and use a grip that you can keep the whole works at a 90 degree angle.
Using an auger bit file (keep one of these in your shop…trust me) I clean off some of the goop that has accumulated over the years, once I do that, I use a sharp and I mean SHARP chisel to remove a lump I noticed during the fitting. Very small but between that and the adjustments to the blade I think I bought another 100 years of movement.
Now that we have the Iron fitting in the plane, lets get the iron working again. I love taking a once over on a tool and learning things. This is one time where I learned a great deal.
A tale of two edges, at one point this tool was used as a try plane (to make work try’ed and true), this is evidenced by the lower curved bevel, the blade itself is now flat, meaning that someone changed the plane to a jointer (flat blades make better glue joints, curved blades make rapid adjustments to stock.). I feel like bringing this plane back to it’s heritage. But before I start messing around with re-cambering the blade I need to get the breaker and the iron seating correctly.
This is my technique for getting a prefect knife edge on a chip breaker. The height of the sandpaper on the glass makes for an angle where the tip of the breaker can touch the blade before anything else. This keeps shavings from jamming or sneaking under the breaker.
On a smoother I would go further than this as the ultra fine shavings might sneak under the breaker, but a try takes thick enough shavings in use that I will stop here (take as little steel as you have to).
Blech, some work to do on the back side of the iron. No I will NOT use the ruler trick, it does not save time in the long run especially on cambered Irons.
Good enough for now. As some of the depression on the right hand side is going to come off during the cambering process I see no need to get this dead flat right now.
This is a good seat, I sight against a bright light (not photographed here) and check for any gaps; there are not any so I am ready to camber.
But as I am starting not nod off I will post that blog tomorrow…but as a preview I gave my dirty work plane a promotion to a scrub. Here are the pics.
-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan