Scrub plane: Fitting the tote

I decided to attack the long, wide groove to fit the tote today. I wasn’t too sure how to approach this, so I decided to see if a router plane would do what I needed it to. Having never used this tool (a Millers Falls #67 with a Lee Valley blade), I sharpened the blade and tested it on a piece of Douglas fir that usually sees test victim service. It seemed to work, so I set out clamping the plane body to the bench, marked the sides, and sawed down as much as I could:

Then I attacked it with the router plane until I got to the bottom. I had to remove the last part by chisel. (Next time, I will try to design the tote so that I can do the whole thing with the router plane. This was a severe pain in the butt.)

Finally, I shaved the edges of the groove so that the tote would fit snugly:

This could have turned out a little better, I guess. I was a little paranoid about trusting my lines when I sawed down, and it turns out that I shouldn’t have–they were dead on. In the end, there’s sort of a small gap on one side of the groove between the tote and the body. All in all, though, this went a lot better than the complete disaster that I expected…

Scrub plane: Tote and body back

Faced with a dearth of time to work, I’ve been flailing around at shaping the tote/handle for the past several days. I’ll get home, take a few whacks at it with the rasp, file a little down, and so on.

Today, I decided to cut the “razee” part of the body. Seems to have gone okay. Here’s the body, along with the current tote:

The tote isn’t exactly the prettiest thing in the world right now, but it is at least comfortable. I haven’t gone far beyond this level of finish because I haven’t decided which tools to use now (can’t use the rasp any longer because the finish is too rough). Files? Sandpaper wrapped around a dowel? A scratch stock? Anything I can find?

Scrub plane handle, Part 1

I think I used too much glue when laminating the plane body, creating a slightly larger gap than I was expecting, but that’s life. It does seem solid, and that’s the important part.

Yesterday, I cut a triangle out of a board for the handle, and today, I traced out the rest of the handle from the printed drawing. Then I knocked out the inside and back with a coping saw. Coping saws are a pain, but a having a solid workbench is a godsend, and nowhere was this more evident when I roughed out the outline with a rasp. I’ve never had much success at using a rasp before, and I realize now that it was due to having a bench shake all over the place.

That’s a somewhat-maligned cabinet rasp there. It seemed to work fine, and it also didn’t cost me anything (woot). Of course, the real test will come when I use it to shape the oval profile of the grip, but it doesn’t seem like it will be a problem.

Truth be told, cutting out the handle was a lot more fun than I expected. If the rest of the shaping goes even half as well as this, I’ll really have no excuse for not getting to work on those saw handles.

Scrub plane body

I had time to work on the scrub plane today. I already had two milled pieces of wood ready to go, and the drawing was done. So I set out on the somewhat complicated task of cutting the various tapered slots. I made the wedge first. Then I marked out the blade’s bed (at 45 degrees), traced the wedge shape onto both body pieces, and cut out the housing for the blade and wedge:

That’s all fine and good, but you sort of need a path for the shavings to come out. This is the tricky part. You have to maintain a significant portion of the wedge/blade housing, but still open up the area in front of the blade. In addition, you have to open this area to the full width at the mouth. Here’s what I’m working with now:

The area for the shavings is a bit narrow, and the tapered path for the shavings is a rather high angle, but this is probably okay, because the shavings on a scrub plane are not really supposed to be as wide as the mouth anyway.

When assembled, the body is supposed to look like this:

With the blade and wedge inserted, it looks like this:

From below, we have this:

Fine. So I was happy with all of that and decided that it was time to glue up the sides. It was not terribly easy, and looked kind of ridiculous when clamped up:

At least I got it aligned. I’m starting to think that it might have been easier if I had glued it up first, then cut out the various parts. Then again, I wouldn’t have been able to use my saws. Oh well, the price you pay when you don’t have any thick pieces of wood lying around.

Then I sharpened the blade. First time sharpening a cambered blade. Hmm. Well, it could have been worse, I guess.

Surface plate and Stanley 75

Yesterday I went down the peninsula to visit some friends. They’d been asking me for help on a smoothing plane for a while. Specifically, the blade needed sharpening, so I packed up the sandpaper, waterstones, honing guide, and drove down.

Before starting anything, we went to the Woodcraft store. I had been thinking about getting a granite surface plate for a long time. Since I was eager to try out anything that would lessen the pain of flattening the face of a chisel or plane blade, especially the one that was about to be flattened, I bought one. It was at least cheaper than a Hock plane blade.

Well, I’d been hearing stories about people and their surface plates. How they wanted to get married to their surface plates, they loved them so much. How they might have children–you know, that sort of thing. And now I know why. For some reason, it’s a lot easier to flatten stuff on the plate than on glass or diamond stones or whatever. Perhaps it’s because it’s heavier, or maybe there’s more friction? I don’t know for sure, but it works. Using a little water to hold Norton 3x 220-grit paper in place, it took almost no time to get the face of the 2″ blade flat. The blade’s milling helped a lot, too.

I still had the surface plate buzz lingering today, so I decided to see how quickly it would do the job on this little Stanley #75 bullnose rabbet plane:

Very quick, as it turns out. That silly little plane works surprisingly well, too. It’s kind of a pain to adjust at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not bad.

Scrub plane design

It’s taken forever, but I finally got around to drawing the scrub plane, or at least the side view.

I’m still a little unsure of these dimensions. Most wooden scrub planes have the blade set a little further back. But since I want a tote on this thing, I had to shift a few things around. The basic tote shape comes from the small Lee Valley tote that I got for my low-angle block plane. It’s likely that even if it works out for me, it will not be comfortable for those with larger hands. In any case, the tote is not meant to be grabbed with four fingers; the index finger should go along the side.

I’m not sure what to do about the front. I suppose that it’s possible to put a knob or something on there, but I’m not going to bother with it until I try it out.

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.

Milling musing

I still don’t have a scrub plane, so milling this piece of european beech for my future mallet was as time-consuming as you’d expect:

To minimize the pain, I just flattened one side and then scribed the other side for about the maximum thickness so that I wouldn’t have to take off too much stock. I don’t even know how thick it is, just that it’s pretty much uniform. We’ll see why this doesn’t matter in later stages.

I used the jack plane quite a lot more for this one. Working straight across the board and in diagonals took out the cup fairly quickly. The fore plane rounded out the first face, and this side turned out very, very flat.

There was more work to do on the other side because there was still a significant amount of stock to remove, so naturally, it took a long time. In addition, I decided to goof around with one of my smoothing planes again, trying again to improve its tuning. This went fairly well. I managed to tighten the throat a bit and straighten out the frog.

Moreover, I figured out a trick on how to straighten the frog: if the sides are square, you can use a double square. Put the stock on the frog bed (where it meets the blade), and extend the rule out over the side. If the frog is square, the rule can sit flush with the side of the plane, because those two surfaces are, in theory, supposed to be orthogonal. I suppose that a photo would be handy here, but I’m too lazy right now to show it.

The downside of all of this messing around with the smoothing plane is that in my excitement, I took off a little extra from one of the edges, making the second side “not quite flat.” In the grand scheme of this project, it does not matter. In fact, it might be a good thing.

The only thing that does matter is that the next thing I mill down had better be for the body of a scrub plane.

Milling, Part 5

At this point, I’d milled my board to width and depth; the only thing remaining was cutting it to length. My goal was two one-foot (roughly) lengths.

This meant using a crosscut saw, preferably a backsaw, which meant that the task fell to the old Jackson saw I’d been playing with. I wasn’t terribly happy with the initial sharpening job I did on it. The saw kept wandering around in the cut. so yesterday, I decided to try again. I jointed, shaped, and set the teeth, then went about to pointing the teeth.

I screwed up, and the teeth ended up looking ridiculous. The saw didn’t exactly cut so well, either. So I jointed, shaped, and set again, and then I screwed up the pointing again. So I jointed, shaped a little, then went to bed.

Not to be deterred, I woke up this morning (“full” of energy), and decided to try a few different things. First, I used less set on the teeth. Then I set about pointing with a lower fleam angle (something like 10-15 degrees). Finally, I decided to ignore the rake angle guide when pointing, rather relying more on sight and feel.

The saw certainly looked a lot better when I finished. And it cut better–it did not wander around now. So I was ready to put it to use. Here’s the end product after shooting the end grain with my low-angle block plane:

Yay. I’m done with milling. Plus, I got to put the Veritas plane to a torture test of sorts.

I’m still not thrilled with the backsaw. It cuts smoothly and relatively quickly now, and it doesn’t wander, but I can’t help but thinking that it could produce a finer cut. The question, though, is if I’m barking up the wrong tree here. That saw has just 10 teeth per inch, which is fairly coarse for a crosscut saw anyway. This thing may be better off as a ripsaw for tenon cheeks and stuff like that. I don’t think I want to retooth it, because that will wear down even more of the saw, and there isn’t much blade left to begin with.

Whatever. I’m ready to try making a mortise-and-tenon joint now.

Milling, Part 4

In the last milling episode, my board was now flat on three sides. I needed to rip it to its final width of 2.5 inches. First, I scribed a line around the cut with my marking gauge, then pulled out my now-functional ripsaw. I took the cut a little slowly, not really knowing what to expect. The saw did its job perfectly, guiding itself with the kerf and never wandering:

To get the final surface on the edge, I had two choices with my jointer plane: use a shooting board or try it freehand. Since I don’t have a shooting board, and I didn’t want to cobble together some lame setup again, I opted for the freehand method. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

That little Lee Valley double square is really handy for checking the edge.

There’s just one thing left to do: saw the end square to final length and plane it smooth. But for the rest of today, I’m going to clean and wax a few tools that seriously need it (like that jointer plane, ugh).

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