As I write, my blue Monday is behind me but some of my American friends are still busy dealing with theirs! Let’s get rid of the blues and go back to our project. The glue is dry and we can pop the clamps. I’ve always liked this stage of a project, that moment when you can take off the clamps and clean up the glue lines. Again, a reminder of what we want to achieve:
This is where we are. Cut the pins close to the timber and clean up the glue lines. If there is glue squeeze out inside the mortise, carefully remove with a narrow chisel. Right, time to do something about the mouth of our plane.
The opening in the bottom now needs to be continued through the 2 cheeks. Clamp the plane body tightly in your bench vise and use a fine saw to carefully cut along the lines marked on the cheeks. Only through into the hole!
Rather cut to the inside of the lines! The ramp or landing needs to nice and flat and square to the body and also in the same plane as the rest of the landing inside the body. Carefully flatten with a very sharp chisel, working diagonally along the grain with a slicing action. Keep the grain direction in mind; you don’t want to cut against the grain! It means working from the hole to the outside. We want the blade to have full contact with the landing so it won’t chatter.
So far we haven’t touched the front side of the mouth opening. The back side where the blade will be resting is nice and flat. If you’ve cut very closely to the marked lines, the blade should just be able to slide into this gap. In other words, the width of the opening is the same as the thickness of your blade. If it doesn’t want to go in don’t despair! Again use that sharp chisel and carefully remove just enough from the front side so the blade will slide in snugly.
Why all this care with the mouth? We don’t want a plane with a wide open mouth like some people I know!!
The mouth opening is IMPORTANT! I jump the gun a little to show what the deal is. This will actually only get done when the blade has been made. With the blade in the plane, the mouth opening should ideally be only the thickness of the shaving!
Note how the front face is slightly angled in relation to the blade. This is to help with clearing the shaving. Let’s use our sharpest tool (the mind) a little… Because those two yellow lines are not parallel to each other, the mouth opening will become bigger as material is removed from the sole of the plane! This will happen when you true the sole of your plane, initially and occasionally throughout its life.
If the front face has more angle, this will happen quicker. Best to have that mouth opening as small as possible initially. It is then carefully opened with a sharp chisel or, more easily with a needle file when the plane gets fine tuned.
Here is the view from the bottom.
This is a good time to chamfer the edges of that hole on both sides. I use a sharp chisel, always taking note of grain direction. Aim to have the chamfers meet in the middle, thus creating a V-shape in section. Note how the chamfer tapers to none where it meets the landing. All this is done to help with the clearing of the sweet shavings you will be making when this baby is done. You might want to wrap some sandpaper around a dowel to help smooth things out a little, just in case that chisel does not cooperate!
I trust it all makes sense to you. If something is not clear, please ask and I’ll do my best to clarify. Next we look at finally making the plane iron.
-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."