I decided to finally get around to finishing up the blanket chest I’ve been working on. It’s a frame and panel design by John McAlevey I first saw in Fine Woodworking’s “In the Craftsman Style.” The frame is made up of the legs, rails, etc… Since this is a blanket chest you can imagine the panels are pretty beefy – about 20” wide and almost four feet long!
While that amount of wood is expensive, that wasn’t the hardest part. You see, the design calls the panels to be a solid 3/4” with coves to reduce the thickness to 1/4” to fit in the frame. The problem is that I had no way of cutting the cove (without using a router table). I tried:
- My Stanley 45
- A cove-cutting molding plane
- A rabbet plane followed by a round molding plane
Unfortunately, all of these resulted in unacceptable levels of tear-out. At that point I was stumped.
So I started doing some reading on all the different ways to make a raised panel. I came to the conclusion that what I really needed was a panel raising plane. I began perusing all of the usual sources for old planes but quickly noticed that almost all of the available options were out of my price range.
With a purchase out of my league I decided to try to make my own. Rather than making the whole thing, I thought it might be easier to adapt an existing plane to suit my needs. Some shopping around found me an old jointer on ebay that was in rough but serviceable shape. I feel a bit guilty butchering an old plane so I made sure to acquire one that was damaged too far to be restorable, but not so far as to render my plans impossible.
The plane itself is a Casey & Co (of Auburn, NY) plane (identified only after much scrubbing). From some research I’ve done it appears that Casey & Co was only in business for one year (1857) before being bought out. The body is cracked in several places but I think I can salvage uncracked parts.
I began by scrubbing it down with soap and water. It looks like this thing sat in someone’s unheated barn for 20 years. After scrubbing I rubbed on three coats of boiled linseed oil. Every coat soaked in completely within 10 minutes. I have never seen a plane that is so dry.
Once I finally freed the stuck wedge and got the blade and chipbreaker out, I was able to pry them apart. Into an electrolytic bath they went!
Next up: sawing the body.
-- Brian - Belmont, Massachusetts