As some of you may be aware, I did a series on building an infill shoulder plane a couple years ago. I followed that up with a series building a twin pair of infill shoulders. Well, I have had the materials (left over from the infill shoulder prototype) laying around for a prototype of the small infill smoother like Ron Brese makes. Ron has been very generous with his information over the years, but at $2100 for one of these little guys, I want to try my hand at this.
This will be a prototype build, so the materials are not super great and I am learning as I go. Here are the vital details:
- All mild steel construction
- 1 1/2” blade width
- 3/8” thick sole
- 3/16” sides
- Infill: some mystery wood I have kicking around
- Lever cap: some 3/8” steel, maybe with some wood laminated to the top
- 55 degree bed angle
- Peened screw construction
Alright, so let’s get to the fun part. Here is what I started with:
This is nasty A36 mild steel from home depot for the sides. This stuff is really crappy, DO NOT USE IT! I am only using it because I had lapped one side flat earlier (which is a TON of work, trust me and my almost bloody fingers). You can see in the photo on piece shows the lapped side, the other is the stock side. The sole is mystery steel my brother gave me.
Here is the mystery wood. I think it might be purple heart but it is brown when freshly cut but oxidizes to purple, which is kind of backward. And it doesn’t splinter quite like purple heart. I used it for a chisel handle a little while ago and quite like how it came out, and it was free.
Now, the steel for the sides was too wide, I want the steel 1 1/2” tall, so I had to cut 1/2” off the width. Luckily, I have a little 4×6 band saw and so this did not take an inordinate amount of time. So first we mark the steel with Dykem and strike the line, like so:
Then we do some cutting, resulting thusly:
Next, I turned my attention to the sole. I used the 4×6 band saw (though I have done this with a hack saw before) to cut the 60 degree angle on the toe and the 55 degree bed angle, giving this:
I cut down the infill and cut the angles using a miter saw, so now we have:
Next up is drilling the clearance holes for the screws, and when drilling steel, here are some tips:
- Use cutting fluid; this results in nice clean holes and drills that don’t break
- Use some kind of metal under the steel, not wood, this helps prevent rear mushrooming. I used aluminum and it still mushroomed some.
- The fluid will fling all over the place, so try to keep your drill press table at least somewhat protected. I did this:
Now, I want the screws to go in the center of the sole vertically speaking, so I set my calipers to 3/16” and struck a line through Dykem on the sides (you can use permanent marker just fine too, I just use the Dykem because I have it). I then marked out the hole locations to put 2 in the toe and 6 in the rear sole. I center punched each hole to prevent the bit from skating.
The bit skated on one hole, mostly due to the crappy steel. Hot roll steel is not flat (read the first part of my first infill shoulder plane series to get the in depth treatment). It crowns in the center, so drilling near the edge tends to rock the piece, which causes skating and other bad stuff. But on the (w)hole, it turned out well:
And of course, who can resist the way-too-early mockup?
Having better tools and more experience, this is going pretty quick.
Time to this point: About 1.5 hrs
-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science