|Project by DynaBlue||posted 09-06-2009 11:50 PM||3091 views||24 times favorited||19 comments|
Overall length- 26 1/2”
Materials- cocobolo, cherry, quartersawn sapelle, curly maple, ebony, padauk
I called this Frankenplane because it really started out as a proof of concept idea. I needed something for a project that I’m working on,a workbench, which would allow me to flatten a 12” x 91” top surface and 6” jointer wasn’t going to cut it. I have a couple block planes but nothing that would approach the scale of the surface I was going to work. As my wife was out of town for a few days and I could spend as much time screwing up wood as I felt like it seemed an ideal time to try to build my own plane. I searched the web for hours before finding two places that described plane building in detail; Popular mechanics and, believe it or not, the Lowe’s website. I liked the instructions from Lowe’s best so I mostly used them.
First I started digging through my scrap bins and locating 27” long pieces of wood that I thought would work well. I found three likely candidate, cocobolo, sapelle and cherry. Now before you purists chastise me for dissimilar woods I will point back to ‘proof of concept’ and ‘scrap’. I had no real intention for this to be anything other than learning how to make a plane. I put the three pieces of wood together and realized that they were just a bit too narrow to allow me a good 3/8” on either side of my Hock iron so I went back to the scraps and found some curly maple that wasn’t doing anything but was just the right thickness to get me where I needed to go. And my wife, who normally hunts down curly maple at the lumber stores, wasn’t around to stop me. I selected padauk for the sole since it seemed to be dense and fairly hard. It also smells ‘spicy’ when machined.
Armed with my plans for a small block plane and a fairly massive hunk of glued up scraps I started laying out the cut lines and getting ready to slice the block apart. I didn’t know how far back the mouth should be located on a jointing plane but it seemed to be about 1/3 along the body of the plane. Is there a more hard-fast rule? I won’t bore any more with blow by blow steps but after about three days I had something that looked like a plane. It had no handles at that point and was just a big rectangular block. I tried to use it and realized just why planes have handles (or strikes and totes, if you prefer). Back to the scrap bin for more wood and poof..I had grabbers. Of significance I was able to use my lathe for the second time since purchasing it off craig’s list almost a year ago. I have no idea really how to turn but I was able to make that strike out of cocobolo. Then I read about razee forms and decided that lowering the tote would seem to make sense so I bandsawed off a hunk from the aft end and mortised in the tote. It was a fairly realistic looking plane and I was happy and satisfied that I could, in the future, make a real plane. I gave it several coats of BLO and let it dry for several days, plastered on a coat of wax for the sole and admired my creation.
I spent the past two days jointing bows in a couple of my bench lamination faces and in desperation I turned to Frankie. I used my plane toface joint 3” x 91” surfaces on ash and I couldn’t be happier. I managed to get straight AND square all at the same time. The shavings were thin and blade width (actual shaving shown in the picture) once I monkeyed around with the iron and wedge. Turns out that my little monster is actually a good, solid working plane after all.
-- Mistake? No, that's just an unexpected design opportunity....