It makes me REAL happy to see that some guys have been inspired to make their own planes! For that reason, I will patiently bear the slowness of my backwater farm style dial up connection…..
The last part to be made is the wedge. Just a simple piece of wood but with a very important function! Not only does it hold the blade firmly in position, it also acts as a chip breaker of sorts.
Remember when we made the plane body (Part II) there was this little off cut piece to be saved? This gives us the exact angle for our wedge. What, you can’t find it? Well, all is not lost except a fair amount of fiddling to establish that angle again. The angle of the wedge is important. Look what happens if it is not right:
WEDGE ANGLE TOO HIGH.
If the wedge angle is too high, there is only contact between the wedge and the plane body at the top of the tenon. Because the blade is now not supported near the mouth, chatter lies ahead! You will not be happy with the performance of your plane!
WEDGE ANGLE TOO LOW.
If the wedge angle is too low, there is only contact between the wedge and plane body at the bottom of the tenon. This is better than above, at least the blade is supported near the mouth. Since the blade is not supported/wedged all the way it will never be wedged firmly. With a wedge not making full contact, the plane will continuously need adjustment; the blade will keep slipping and won’t stay where you want it, especially if you hit a knot or some difficult grain. Better to get that angle just right!
A FEW POINTERS WHEN MAKING THE WEDGE.
1. If you want, make the wedge from a different contrasting piece of wood. Just be sure you have the grain running length wise.
2. Shape, carve or otherwise embellish the fat end as you feel. The IMPORTANT thing is to have the blade go past the end of the wedge for ease in adjustment.
3. I should have mentioned this earlier. Some roughness on the plane bed/landing is good; it helps to increase friction for holding the blade tightly. Same goes for the wedge. Leave it natural and unfinished for the same reason. Oil only that highly decorative carving that you spent so much time on! (This for Bertha!)
4. See where the wedge ends? It needs to be some distance back from the mouth. Cut off where required and gently round over the end to help the shavings glide over it.
5. Here is a little secret that Mads discovered by himself whilst having his coffee, with pipe and tobacco, no doubt! Hollow the bottom face of the wedge very lightly, along the length. This little trick helps greatly in supplying compression in all the right places. We want the wedge to hold the blade firmly, especially near the mouth. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Not having good compression near the mouth is the most common cause of a chattering or badly performing plane!
OK, my wife wants me to watch a DVD with her. I’m already in trouble with the “boss” about spending too much time on LJ’s :^( Next, we will fine-tune our plane. Still to come is an installment on properly adjusting the set of the blade. Finally, we will look at ways to turbo charge a wooden shoulder plane! Stay tuned!
-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."