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A Planing Revelation...

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Blog entry by Ethan Sincox posted 02-20-2007 05:03 PM 763 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The weather is supposed to be nice this week and even this next weekend. I do believe I will take advantage of the situation and get a bit of shop time in!

(The other situation I’ll be taking advantage of is that my wife is out of town on business until tomorrow evening… maybe I can even get a little shop time in tonight!)

But I was actually out in the shop last night. I have a nice little collection of mahogany I’ve collected over the past year or so. Most of it ends up being smaller slabs and cut-offs from my local wood pimp, but being mostly a small-project woodworker, I always seem to find some kind of use for the smaller pieces of wood.

Some of this mahogany has really good curl in it, and that’s what I was looking for last night. I have a situation where someone is considering a purchase or trade of some curly mahogany for some handles, so he can put some of the shorter pieces to good use.

The problem I ran across last night, however, was that half of the mahogany pieces I had were still very rough and it was sometimes hard to tell what kind of grain pattern I was looking at. Band saw marks do a really good impersonation of “curl” when you’re trying to look for it, so I have to get rid of them, in at least one small area.

So I thought to myself, “You just need to remove enough of the surface to show the grain and you’ll be good to go!” I couldn’t run the boards through a planer, however, because they’re all under 12” long. Then I thought about running them through the wide belt sander… oh, that’s right. I don’t HAVE a wide belt sander. I could throw some 60 grit onto my sanding block or my ROS, but that would just take too long and kick up too much dust. What was I to do?

My mind quickly flashed back to an episode of Woodworks, where David Marks was showing some of the rough stock in his wood shed. At first, I started thinking about how jealous I was of his woodshed and his workshop. Who does he think he is, showing us his wood shed, which is bigger than the whole of my shop! How did he get such a large collection of wood, anyway? Where does… But then I remembered I was trying to come up with a solution to my problem. I’m easily side-tracked sometimes.

Anyway, he always pulls out a block plane and uses it to remove the rough saw marks and get a better look at the grain, doesn’t he? Hey, I have a small block plane! Why not use that?

Oh, that’s right, I don’t know how to use hand planes very well. But what the heck – what can I hurt by trying, right?

Truth be told, the block plane is in no condition to use, really – it was a garage sale find and it is still a little rough. I have it sitting out on my bench because I’m getting ready to take it to a hand plane tune-up class at Woodcraft on March 1st.

But again, I thought, what can I hurt by trying? So I picked it up and set the blade to remove a very light shaving and starting taking it over the mahogany. And guess what! I actually took small curls of shavings off! Whoah. I swiped it over the board again. More shavings! They were small, and not exactly “fine curls”, but… it was certainly more than I’d expected!

And then I thought to myself, “If you can do that with this plane in THIS condition, just imagine what you might be able to do with this plane in tuned-up and sharpened condition!

After I finished up in the shop, I went back inside – only I brought the plane blade with me. I grabbed my fine diamond stone and a small jar of water and some paper towels and went into the living room to watch a little TV and worked on flattening the back of the blade.

It didn’t take much lapping to tell me the previous owner had put a slight bevel on the back of the blade. Schmuck.

(I bought this plane a while back, before I knew anything at all about planes. Had I looked at it with today’s eyes, I might have passed it up because the blade was in such bad condition. But I have it, and it was really inexpensive, so I might as well see what I can do with it!)

So I have a little more lapping to do to get the first inch or so of the blade perfectly flat, but… After switching to the coarse diamond stone, I’m almost there. Then I’ll need to lap a chip or two out of the edge, but that won’t be a big deal, either. I have a slow-speed grinder and an aluminum oxide stone, and one of the first things I learned how to do was grind a bevel onto a blade.

Tonight I’ll spend a little more time on it and then I’ll dismantle the rest of the plane and scrub it all down really well and see what else I can do to clean it up before my class. Now I’m even more excited about that class and about incorporating hand planes into my woodworking!

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com



15 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2827 days


#1 posted 02-20-2007 05:29 PM

gotta love watching excitement build :)
I guess you didn’t take pictures of the before/after wood, did you? Or wouldn’t it have really shown anything in a picture?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2840 days


#2 posted 02-20-2007 06:37 PM

No… this was pretty much unplanned planing. I rarely think that far ahead! :)

And now I’m busy trying to figure out exactly what block plane I have, using Patrick’s Blood and Gore.

I have to check the pitch of the angle. If it is low, then I have the #60. If it is higher, then I have the #203.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View Shawn's profile

Shawn

225 posts in 2819 days


#3 posted 02-20-2007 06:38 PM

Thats great man, dont forget to flatten the sole of the plane too, maybe a little coat of wax, she’llbe running smoothe as silk for ya

-- Cheers

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2840 days


#4 posted 02-20-2007 07:10 PM

I’ll have to work on that, as well, Shawn. I don’t believe it is NOT flat, but it could use with a bit of lapping, as well. And I’ll be sure to get a nice layer of Renaissance wax on the sole, while I’m at it!

And then, Debbie, I’ll see if I can’t get some before and after pictures for ya.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View Don's profile

Don

2600 posts in 2843 days


#5 posted 02-21-2007 01:28 AM

Of course, Ethan, you can always replace the iron – they are not that expensive. Here’s what I recommend.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2840 days


#6 posted 02-21-2007 07:18 AM

I was wrong on both accounts… I do not have the #60 or the # 203. I BELIEVE I have the Stanley #220. One tip off is the 7 1/2” length. Another is the combination of the lever cap, the wooden knob, the adjustment mechanism, and the lack of the side depressions.

Yet another is the “No. 220” I found just behind the front knob when I was cleaning it. (hehe… had you going there, didn’t I?)

Plane blade is lapped and sharpened. I also now have a nice little bald patch on the back of my left hand. :)

Oh, I haven’t taken it out for a test drive yet, Debbie. I’ll get to that later this week and take some pictures for you then.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View Don's profile

Don

2600 posts in 2843 days


#7 posted 02-21-2007 07:28 AM

I appreciate the difficulty in trying to identify the Stanley model. They have been so prolific in the number of models they have produce over the years. The subtle differences and the different manufacturing facilities have made identification a real study.

I look forward to seeing the results, Ethan.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

View oscorner's profile

oscorner

4564 posts in 2977 days


#8 posted 02-21-2007 05:31 PM

I agree with, Shawn. If the sole isn’t tuned you won’t get the smooth flat surface you’re looking for. Just take a straight edge and check and see if you can see any daylight anywhere along the sole. Also, use a square to check across the sole. I put this off until recently on my own planes and it is amazing how smooth you can get the sole of a plane with some sandpaper over a piece of material that is flat (tile, granite, etc.) There are several places on the internet that explain the process. Check them out! I’m sorry that I don’t have links readily availiable.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Philip Edwards's profile

Philip Edwards

244 posts in 3105 days


#9 posted 02-22-2007 08:46 PM

Watch out Ethan! You have officially started on the “Slippery Slope” of the hand plane :)
Enjoy the ride,
Phil

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2840 days


#10 posted 02-22-2007 09:09 PM

Thanks, Phil!

Does this eventually lead to making one’s own plane? With this, and reading James Krenov’s A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook, I have a feeling I’ll get there sooner rather than later.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View Don's profile

Don

2600 posts in 2843 days


#11 posted 02-23-2007 02:21 AM

Watch out – the darksiders are on the move! LOL

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2903 days


#12 posted 02-23-2007 04:05 AM

Ethan, once you actually speak to Phil on a personal level your destiny is … You will start down the Planer’s Path and once you start down the Planers Path, forever shall it dominate your destiny.

Phil MADE me do it. I went out and bought 2 pieces of 01 Tool Steel. 1 1/4” wide and 7” long. Cost a whopping $13.00 I WILL make the Planers Journey. The Steel rides around in my truck with me, calling to me… “psst, Mr Woodsmith, look over here. You know that Cherry you have in the shop? Or the Lyptus sticks you got for free?”

I got my pimp looking into the neighbor widow’s garage where she has a drill press and a water grinding wheel. They will be mine. She hates me because of the 7-sided tree house I built in the Pimp’s Yard. with T-111 Siding, maple floors, dual-paned windows, ship lap roofing … It’s painted to match the house. She knows not what she has, and she will give it to the Pimp. (Jedi Mind Trick)

You have heard the call of the Plane.

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2903 days


#13 posted 02-24-2007 03:54 AM

I have a plane page that I’m starting just to keep all the plane information on one page

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2840 days


#14 posted 02-24-2007 07:06 AM

Whoah. Lots of good information there, Obi! Thanks for the link!

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2903 days


#15 posted 02-25-2007 06:33 PM

Thanks Ethan, but it was Joel that gave me this information based on a question I asked 4 months ago… In fact Joel was the only one that replied. Thats what I thought this site was all about. Me helping my fellow Lumberjock with information and such. How to editorials, jigs, tool prices, reviews, which worked better on what… Aint none of us got it all, but ALL of Us have something.

Glad I could help you.

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