|Project by wch||posted 06-15-2010 08:19 AM||12872 views||32 times favorited||16 comments|
I really enjoy using my tools to make more tools. Sometimes I put a lot of effort in the aesthetics and details, and sometimes I just want something that works. This falls into the latter category.
I was in the process of making a wooden plane with an adjustable mouth, and I needed to make sure the mortise where the mouth piece mates with the plane was totally flat and at a consistent depth relative to the bottom of the sole. I had flattened that area before laminating the sole, but after doing so and putting on the finish, some glue and finish had gotten in there and needed to be cleaned up. I started with a chisel, but I had trouble getting the surface totally flat, and I didn’t know if it was a consistent depth.
I had seen a couple homemade router planes before, and this situation pushed me to finally make one. I discovered that it was trivially easy, and realized I should have done it a long time ago. For making the router plane itself, most of the time was spent waiting for the glue to dry. I flattened the bottom with a piece of sandpaper adhered to glass, but it could also be planed flat. For most purposes, the bottom doesn’t have to be as perfectly flat as, say, a smoothing plane, since this kind of plane generally is not used to take super fine shavings or make a perfect surface texture.
Making the blade was a lot more work. As others have done, I took a hex wrench I had lying around (4mm), ground it to shape (being careful to avoid overheating), then honed it. Sharpening it isn’t easy, but the edge doesn’t have to be perfect since my goal is to use it for joints where the surface isn’t visible. I was careful not to put a left or right tilt on the blade, by putting the blade flat-side down on a table, and then checking with a square that the handle stood vertically. It’s also important to add some relief to the blade (grinding the back higher than the front) so that the blade can’t “skate” on the surface.
Some things that are less than ideal about my execution:
- I didn’t put in the insert nut for the thumbscrew quite straight, so when the screw is tightened down, the cutter ends up being off at a slight angle. But it’s not a problem at all for my use.
- Currently, the cutter is a little too long. In the future I’ll probably grind it shorter, because at its current length, it can be difficult to access tight spaces.
- I would put the locking screw a little lower to minimize flexing of the blade. It’s not a big issue, but I can tell that there’s a little bit of flex in the system when making a deep cuts.
A couple hours after I started making this guy, it was finished and I was able to use it to clean up the mortise in my smoothing plane. You can see it in the last photo above. In addition to cleaning up mortises, it can also be used for cutting grooves and dadoes, if the sides are scored with a knife/chisel/saw cut.
If you’ve ever had a desire for a router plane, but didn’t have the funds for it, you should try making one for yourself. It’s surprisingly easy—much easier than a “normal” hand plane, for example. Not counting the time spent making the blade (or waiting for the glue to dry), it took about 15 minutes. If you don’t want to make a blade, they can be purchased for $9-$12 dollars at Lee Valley.
None of this is new; my only “innovation” was to expend the least possible effort in making it. Ideas and inspiration were from these much more polished examples: