Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What have I been up to?

I obviously haven't been writing much here, but I have still been getting in some workshop time.  Here are a few of the things I've been occupied with.

1) Combination plane storage!  I bought a new combination plane; I found a deal I couldn't turn down, and it turns out I like it a lot more than the other one I had.  My one complaint is that the cutters came stored in a canvas roll, which is great, but not actually big enough.  I may end up buying some canvas and making a larger roll, but for the moment I'm building some storage boxes in the style of the old Stanley combination plane storage.  Here's the first one done:

After making it, I realized that Stanley didn't actually put dividers in.  I think probably I'm going to go that route as well, since the dividers vastly increased the amount of time this took.  Also, I really should be putting the cutters in with their edge up.  Just at the moment, they're not actually sharper at the other end, so it's a minimal concern.

2) Experimenting with splines.  I'd never actually made a box with splined corners before, and I wanted to try it.  I don't actually have a "finished" photo, but here's one from along the way.

The splines are cheap veneer of some sort, the sides are poplar, and the top and bottom were pine, all chosen because they were what I had.  Fortunately, it turns out that my dovetail saw leaves a kerf only slightly wider than the veneer is thick, so I can cut a slot and then glue in the veneer.

I screwed up the hinges, so I'll need to go back and try that again, but I'm pretty pleased.

3) Buying and playing with moulding planes!  While I was out of the shop injured this summer, I wound up finding a bunch of inexpensive moulding planes on Etsy, and a few more at antique stores.  I also went out this weekend and bought four more from Craigslist.  At the moment, I'm averaging about $20 each for the moulding planes, and they've been in fantastic condition.  A couple of them could use some wedge tweaking, but aside from that all of them are entirely useable.

Looking a little more closely, we have:

 The first four are the ones I bought a few days ago.  Left to right, there is a matched tongue and groove set, a beading plane, and a #2 hollow, which is remarkably straight.  The grooving plane needs some work on the wedge... it was clearly added by someone who was using the plane for decoration, and doesn't fit very well.  On a side note, I could with that everyone who bought these things for decoration took care of them this well!  The guy I bought them from said he'd "refinished them", which seems to mean he sanded lightly and then put on a couple coats of BLO.  They look a lot newer than the rest, but are probably of similar vintage:  the match planes were made by the Ohio Tool Company, the beading plane is by Sandusky, and the hollow has no legible maker's mark.

The next two I picked up at an antique store.  The hollow is in good shape, and cuts fairly well, although the back of the cutter could use some polishing, and the grooving plane has lost its mate.  Sadly, it doesn't match the other set, so I suppose I'll have to build it a match.

The two on the far left here both came from other antique stores.  One is another bead, which I believe started its life as a reeding plane.  At some point one of the boxwood inserts was broken, and someone planed what was left flat and nailed a fence to the body.  Now that I have a couple of beading planes, I may try to restore that.  The other is a dado plane in terrible shape.  It's missing the front wedge, the depth stop isn't straight, and there's something weird about the way the (skewed) cutter was ground.  I mostly bought it because I'd never seen a dado plane in person, and figured it would make a reasonable pattern even if I didn't ever get around to fixing it up.

The next four all came from Etsy.  There are two profile moulding planes, another beading plane, and a very neat moving fillister plane.  The nicker needs some work, but everything else works perfectly.  I may actually do a short post about that one sometime... it's got some features that seem to be a little unusual.

You can see the depth stop on the moving fillister a little bit, here: it's a rounded, moderately decorative piece that's held in place by screws at the front and back.  Getting it even is a little fiddly, but once you lock it down it's fantastic.

After that are three new planes.  Two of them are a Mujingfang hollow and round, which are neat, but don't fit my hands as well as I'd like.  They were a gift, and they are occasionally useful, so they get to stay on the shelf.  After that is a no-name plane that's basically a 7/8" straight rabbet.  It needed some tuning, and shavings tend to get jammed in it as you work, but with a little practice it has turned out to be quite useful.  I love it for making things like pencil boxes:  it's a lot lighter than a Stanley 78, and doesn't require any setup.

The last one on the shelf is a 2" wide skewed rabbet that I inherited from my father's father.  It's dented, heavily checked, and the sole was beaten up and about 3 degrees off square when I got it.  The iron could use a little more work, but I flattened and squared the sole, removed the worst of the rust from the iron, and it now works quite well, at least for rough work.  The mouth is pretty wide, and I haven't had the motivation to make an insert for it yet, so it's not great for fine work.  For a wide rebate, though, it'll remove a vast amount of waste very quickly.  I think I had it removing about 1/16" on a stroke when I was testing it, which is pretty absurd.

So that's what I've been up to.  How about you?


  1. Hi Andy, recently found out about your blog from Jonas Jensen's Mulesaw site. Just skimming through this and a few other recent posts is very interesting, looking forward to spending more time here. Thanks for writing.

    1. Jeff, welcome, and I'm glad to see you here! As a warning, my life has been absurdly busy the last month or so, and that's not looking to change any time soon (I think my next free weekend may be in November). Hopefully I'll get back to writing before any readers get bored and move on.


  2. Hi Andy.

    Glad to see that you are back in the blogosphere.
    I am sorry that I haven't commented before now, but I have been busy with the DCBE and whatnot.

    The splined box looks really good. I have never tried to use splines, but I think they look great. Especially in some sort of contrasting wood like you used.


    1. Jonas, good to hear from you! I've been really busy, and not writing anything up, but I'm starting a new project, so there'll be some posts soon.

      You should try the splines... I was surprised at how easy it was! In this case, as I said, the splines were just a tiny fraction smaller than my dovetail saw, so it was pretty simple. Give it a shot!