Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Carriage Maker's Rabbet Plane

I made this plane a while ago, after finding an article in a Fine Woodworking collection book from our local library. I loved the unique and curvy shape of the plane, and decided that making one would be a great way to learn a few things about carving, shaping, and planemaking in general.

Since it's a rabbet plane, the iron needs to be fit perfectly, such that it sticks out of the sides of the plane by only a thousandth of an inch or so. The mortise for the iron and wedge need to be carefully and accurately bored and pared as well--a real challenge for me.

I had planned to make two of these--one with a curved sole (as in the original article), and one with a flat sole. The first ended up being a "practice" plane, and it never did get finished--the mortise just wasn't right. The survivor--this plane--has a curved sole.

The body of the plane is cherry, and the sole and wedge are shedua. I needed something harder than the cherry for the sole, and the shedua fit the bill nicely. I liked the contrast that the dark wood provided as well

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Latest Work: My take on an early Kenyon Saw

Chris Schwartz of Woodworking Magazine and Lost Arts Press has been writing quite a bit lately about an interesting little saw he was shown at the Woodworking in America conference. Thanks to the photos and templates he posted, I was able to create my own version of the saw.

I had a dovetail saw that I made a year or two ago that desparately needed a new handle. The old one wasn't very well made--not my best work. I rarely used the saw because of this, so the saw was a perfect candidate for a new, Kenyon-style handle.

I do love figured walnut, too....

8" dovetail saw, figured walnut; 15 ppi, rip

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Handmade Infill

This is the second infill that I finished. My metalworking tools consist of a cheap benchtop drill press, a combo disk/belt sander, a hacksaw, and a bunch of files. This was made with a lot of handtool work...

The dovetails that connect the sides to the sole were cut and filed entirely by hand. The shape of the sides was cut with a hacksaw and refined with files and the sander.

It's 7 1/2" long with a 1/4" thick 1 3/4" wide iron. The infills are sipo finished with garnet shellac and wax.

More finished pics:

Making Saw Handles

And here's how I make the handles for my backsaws...

(note: please ignore the fact that I used pictures from two different handles in this post... One is bubinga, the other, imbuia)

I start by milling blanks to size—roughly 7/8” thick. I don’t need to be exact on the thickness, especially since I’m making my own split nuts now, so I just plane it until it’s close to 7/8” & all the roughness/tearout is gone.

Next, I trace the handle shape from a template I have. Usually, I’ll size a blank such that I can nest two handles on it & save some wood. I then use a small drill press & forstner bits to cut out the tightest of the curves of the handle.

I also drill the holes for the split nuts at this time. I used to use a rather convoluted process of drilling a 1/16” pilot, using a forstner bit to drill the 1/2" counterbore, then drilling the 3/16” through hole. Now, I’ve developed what I think is a much quicker, more “elegant” procedure. I found a tool called a counterbore (usually used for metal working, I think) that has an integral
pilot. The one I have is made to work with different size pilots, but I couldn’t find the 3/16” pilot I needed, so I just stuck a piece of 3/16” dia. brass rod in it—works perfectly. Now all I need to do is drill a 3/16” through hole & use the counterbore to cut the 1/2" holes on each side of the handle.
(this blank is sort of the “left over” from a previous handle I had made—that’s why it’s oddly shaped)

Next, I take the drilled blank to the bandsaw and rough it out.

I use a setup I first saw here to cut the kerf for the blade. I cut down the blade from an early saw I had made, and I clamp that to an old shooting board (a known flat surface—flatter than my workbench top, unfortunately). I use a few pieces o
f paper to shim the handle to the correct height, and use this set up to begin cutting the kerf.

I’ll need to finish it up with a dovetail saw, but this set up assures me that I have a square, straight kerf.

Now I’ll take some time to work on the blade. I need to finish the blade so that I can mark & cut the mortise for the brass back. I used to shape the handles first and then cut the mortise, but I’ve found that the mortise is one of the trickiest parts of making the handle (at least for me), and I was tired of ruining handles after doing most of the work. I’d rather ruin it BEFORE I’ve done all the work, thank you very much…

So once the blade is made, I stick it into the kerf as far as it’ll fit & use a marking knife to mark the mortise.

Then it’s just a matter of sawing the edges & chiseling out the waste. I have to work slowly, cutting a bit and testing the fit, to insure a tight fit & to make sure the holes all line up correctly.

Once that’s done, the fun part—shaping the grip—begins. I use a series of spokeshaves, rasps, files, scrapers, and sandpaper to shape & smooth the grip.

I have a small machinist’s vice bolted to a piece of plywood, and I clamp that to my bench for work like this. I also clamp a small handscrew into the vice at times in order to raise (and rotate) the workpiece.

The inside of the grip is the hard part. It's tricky to get the tools in here without hitting part of the vice, the workbench, or another part of the handle.

I also need to cut the chamfers at the “front” of the handle (where it meets the blade). The “top,” flat chamfers are simply pared with a chisel:

And the curved chamfers are cut with spokeshaves & files. I used to rasp & file these, but I’ve found that the wooden, low-angle shave works very well.

That's it! Some sanding, shellac, and wax will finish it up once the handle and blade are assembled with the split nuts.

Cocobolo handle with brass split nuts

Making Saw Blades

I posted this as a tutorial on Woodnet forums a while ago. This is how I make my particular style of saw blade with a laminated, epoxied, and screwed back.

I start with blue-tempered spring steel (usually .018" thick) and brass bar that's 1/8"x3/4". These blades are 8" long, and roughly 2 1/4" wide for a small DT saw. Each blade has been cut such that it will fit into the kerf of its handle. I've cut two pieces of brass for each blade & taped them together for drilling.

Each bundle of brass is drilled (three holes) on my cheap, tiny, benchtop drill press. I use a set of transfer punches to transfer the locations of the holes to each respective blade (the brass & steel parts are each labeled to keep track of things throughout this process).

I use an inexpensive hand punch to punch holes in the steel plate. While I'm at it, I punch the holes for the screws that I'll use to attach the handle (I transfer the locations using the transfer punches again). At this point, a few minutes of sanding with a couple of grits removes the bluing (I used to use citric acid, but they must've changed something about the steel, because the citric acid has absolutely no effect on the last few rolls I've gotten). The sanding also removes the small burrs left by the hand punch.

I clamp the brass pieces to each side of the blade to prepare for tapping the holes for screws. Tapping the brass without the steel in place would throw everything off, and the threads wouldn't line up when I assemble everything later. It looks kind of complicated and there migt be an easier, more elegant way to do this, but I'm able to clamp everything up & chuck it all into my vice this way.

A little more cleanup, and I epoxy the whole thing together, using bits of threaded rod to screw it together. An added bonus of using the screws is that I don't need to use a lot of clamps to hold everything in place while the epoxy cures, and I don't have to worry about overclamping things.

Once everything has cured, I'll clean off the excess epoxy & clean up the brass with some sanding.

That's about it! I'm just left with shaping the handles, cutting mortices for the backs, sanding & finishing everything, cutting, filing, & setting the teeth, and putting it all together, & I'll end up with something like this:

8" dovetail saw with cocobolo handle, 15ppi, rip.