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Let's build a small infill smoother! #1: Intro and Rough Metal Working

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Blog entry by Ripthorn posted 02-18-2015 03:23 AM 3283 reads 8 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Let's build a small infill smoother! series Part 2: More Metalworking »

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



11 comments so far

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

6578 posts in 1617 days


#1 posted 02-18-2015 03:39 AM

Looking good so far.

Did you ever finish the pocket plane one you started blogging for?

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Ripthorn's profile

Ripthorn

1406 posts in 2452 days


#2 posted 02-18-2015 01:34 PM

No, I have not yet finished it. Still working on how to cut the 12 degree bed angle. Not an easy task from a work holding point of view. That and I have more pieces for this build, but I hope to get both completed in relatively short order.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View terryR's profile

terryR

6324 posts in 1776 days


#3 posted 02-18-2015 03:31 PM

Awesome, Brian. Thanks for all the photos since I want to try this one day.

Definitely purpleheart…my stash acts the same…brownish when freshly cut, then ages to deep purple.

Whew, cannot imagine cutting that steel with a hacksaw…well, I can imagine it since I’ve tried ONCE. :(

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View JADobson's profile

JADobson

682 posts in 1578 days


#4 posted 02-20-2015 06:52 PM

This is great Brian. I’ll be following this closely. Your shoulder planes looked fantastic. Can’t wait to see how this one turns out.

-- James

View Tim's profile

Tim

3119 posts in 1429 days


#5 posted 02-20-2015 06:57 PM

This is really cool, I just noticed you were starting a blog series. I happen to be trying to learn the basics of machining and there are some good youtube videos out there. From what I understand steel should be drilled at pretty low RPM, and average woodworking DP are too fast. Do you know the RPM on yours, you mentioned it still cut pretty well. Also, is your 4×6 bandsaw is a metal bandsaw or do you just put metal blades in it?

View Ripthorn's profile

Ripthorn

1406 posts in 2452 days


#6 posted 02-20-2015 07:06 PM

Tim, when it comes to working with metals, you have to calculate out the speeds and feeds or different metals. For mild steel, it is recommended to cut at about 100 SFPM (surface feet per minute). So the RPM is totally dependent on the diameter of the bit. For smaller diameters, a normal drill press is fine. I have my drill press set for about 500 RPM and it pretty much never moves. Cutting fluid is critical for steel.

The 4×6 bandsaw is a very common saw in metal working. It is made to cut horizontally or vertically. For the angled cuts, I angled the vise and cut the sole pieces vertically. Right now I just have an old carbon steel blade on it. It cuts alright, but a bimetal blade would cut quicker. In machining, bandsaws are considered very rough tools. You can cut aluminum and brass on a woodworking saw, but the SFPM is way too high for steel. That, and metal cutting band saw blades are run at much higher tension than woodworking (like 10000 psi). The general rule on a metal band saw is crank it as tight as it will go. There are no tires or tensioning springs.

If you are looking to get into machining, look at Tom’s Techniques and TubalCain videos on youtube. They have been the most useful to me. I have a small milling machine and a small metal lathe, but they are very low quality and only get used for tasks that can’t be done another way, really.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Tim's profile

Tim

3119 posts in 1429 days


#7 posted 02-23-2015 09:22 PM

Thanks Brian, great info and those are the two channels I’ve been watching. It’s funny as I’m a hand tool only woodworker, but I like metalworking too and I may go the machine route there instead of trying to blacksmith everything. We’ll see.

View terryR's profile

terryR

6324 posts in 1776 days


#8 posted 02-24-2015 03:32 PM

Brian, had a very simple question bothering me all night…

How do ya square the EDGES of the steel so it can be jointed? Does your bandsaw just provide that? Sandpaper on flat surface with a fence?

I’m suddenly MORE interested in an infill…next swap, ya know! :) Already shopping for 3/16” or 1/4” steel…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Ripthorn's profile

Ripthorn

1406 posts in 2452 days


#9 posted 02-24-2015 03:43 PM

Terry, that is a question that on my very first one I wrestled with a little. I ended up cutting a block of wood so that it was nice and square and used it as a fence. On this one, I used an angle plate as a fence. However, if you use O1 steel for the sole and sides, the surfaces are already precision ground, with a tolerance of something like .1 degrees within square on the sides, so you don’t have to worry about it. My suggestion is to make a prototype out of aluminum for a first one because it is cheap, works super easy, and plentiful. Once you verify that it will work, then get good steel. Enco, Online Metals, McMaster Carr (a little pricey if you ask me), or Victor Machinery all sell precision ground O1. 18” lengths will range from $10-$25 depending on thickness and width.

If you plan to do any more than one or two infills, I would highly recommend a couple of basic tools to make your life easier:

- An angle plate
- A good countersink, I like the zero flute kind
- A tap and die set (if you plan to go threaded, I just have the HF alloy steel set)
- Some cutting fluid like TapMagic Pro or Tap Free
- Some really good, USA made drill bits of the right side. Enco or Victor Machinery are good sources for these
- An aluminum zirconia sanding belt

You will note that none of these things is very expensive. The angle plate is frequently on sale at Enco for under $10 for the size appropriate for infills. A good countersink can be had for $5-10. The HF tap and die set can be had for about $20-25. A 4 oz bottle of cutting fluid is about $2.50 (and I have had mine for almost two years). Really good USA drills (I like the bright finish HSS from either Triumph or Precision, both available at Enco) are not expensive, with 1/8” bits being about $1.25. The aluminum zirconia belts from Klingspor are $5-10 depending on size. I have the 40 grit, because these things are meant to HOG!

One thing you will note as a theme is that I get a lot of stuff from Enco. If you sign up for emails, they routinely will do deals where you get 10-15% off and get free ground shipping on your order (sometimes a minimum order applies, but if you are patient they do no minimums at least 2-3 times a year).

Let me know if you need more info, I make these blogs so that people can learn and do it themselves as well.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View terryR's profile

terryR

6324 posts in 1776 days


#10 posted 02-24-2015 03:50 PM

^THANK YOU!
You answered more than one of my questions, bud!
Was shopping on MMC…will certainly check out Enco…
Aluminum, huh?

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Ripthorn's profile

Ripthorn

1406 posts in 2452 days


#11 posted 02-24-2015 03:54 PM

Terry, you can go straight to steel if you like, but if you are going to anything with a non-rectangular shape, I would try it aluminum. If you plan to do something with an escapement, I would definitely work it out in aluminum. A piece big enough to prototype a plane would probably be all of $5. Also, if you do something with an escapement or such, get a 1/4” carbide cylindrical burr for a dremel, that will save your life (but beware the shards!).

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

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