Scrub Plane Preparation

It’s been a busy few weeks with practically no time for woodwork. However, there has been a little progress. Today, I finally got around to milling the two faces of the board that will eventually become the scrub plane. As with the mallet, the plane will be made of European beech. What a pain–gave myself a blister doing it, too. The only thing left to do on the board is hit it with a smoothing plane, but that’s easy.

I still need to draw the thing. I think I’m going to go with at least a 10-inch length so that I have enough room for a tote in the back, but I don’t know how tall it should be, nor do I know how far forward the blade will be, and I don’t even know what design I’ll use for the handle.

Other minor activity is that I’ve finally gotten around to finishing the Winchester saw handle that’s been sitting around for at least a half a year. There are lots of nicks in the handle. I used a smoothing plane to knock out the most superficial of those. A washcoat and a coat of stain (a pigment-colored varnish) is now on. I’ll do another coat of that tomorrow, and probably follow up with a some polyurethane. One of these days, someone tell me why it’s so impossible to pour anything out of a paint can. There has got to be a better way.

Another fix for the junkie arrived from Lee Valley today. This shipment included the high carbon blade for the scrub plane. I don’t know why the HCS blade costs $18 and the A2 blade $38. It’s surprisingly heavy.

Also in the package were a small tote and front knob add-on for my low-angle block plane (a sort of silly extragavance, but that plane is really nifty), and two 4″ 2x slim taper handsaw files.

My waterstones had started to dish a little, so I flattened them with my diamond stone. That was delightfully easy.

Mallet: finished

In a previous episode, I had just given the mallet an oil/varnish blend finish to give it its color. Then I left for two weeks of vacation, and a week ago, I came back, ready to hit it with some polyurethane.

I wanted to use polyurethane for two reasons: first, I’d never really done much with varnish before, and I thought it was about time to start. Second, it’s good stuff against dirt and sweat, and it’s tough. So off I went and thinned it way too much, so it took a week to get all of the coats on.

I used a “satin sheen” on it, because I’m not big on shiny stuff. Today, I was able to finally hit it with some rottenstone and get the final result:

It’s sitting on top of a piece of the same roughsawn european beech board that it was made from. I guess that’s progress.

Here’s a shot of the top. I managed to get the ray fleck there, so I left it as-is. I’m fairly pleased at the way the end grain turned out.

There are a few flaws. But this is, after all, a striking tool, and I don’t know how pretty it’s gonna look after a period of using it as intended. Incidentally, I am pleased at how it has performed in a few tests so far. The real test comes when I try to make a mortise and tenon (or pretty much anything) again, and I reach for this thing.

Vacation stuff

I’m back from two weeks of being in PA. For some strange reason, I paid a lot more attention to the trees this time. Gee, I wonder why. Penn State’s campus has some great native trees.

I fooled around with polyurethane on the mallet today. No pictures yet, but they wouldn’t be earthshattering, especially since it isn’t a gloss version. I used way too much thinner, so I’m not getting a very thick film on there. On the upside, I’m not getting any bubbles or brushstrokes or anything.

Something is happening, at least. I’ll probably need at least four coats with this thickness. That’s okay, I’m not in a hurry.