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lindgren@ucla10.physics.ucla.

edu Sat, 6 Jan 1996 17:07:08 -0500 Hi folks, Since there seem to be a couple people on the list who would like to hear about various dumb mistakes I made while trying to build a "Norris-style" infill panel plane, I wrote the following. This is the only plane I have made, and so I don't want anyone reading this to think that I know what the heck I am doing, or that I am telling anyone how to do it. I apologise in advance for what is going to be overly long. I had two reference sources, one is the infamous "making and modifying woodworking tools" by Jim Kingshott, isbn 0-946819-32-7, and the other is an article entitled "making a panel plane" by Charles Dolan, in FWW nov/dec 1985. The Kingshott book has nice pictures and lots of drawings, however I found that it has some errors and crucial info left out(at least for a numbskull like me it seemed crucial). The FWW article is short, but seems ok if you want to make a soldered brass version. What did I build? I wanted to make a smoother, but the coffin body looked beyond me, at least for a first try, so I decided to build a bigger panel plane, thinking that the mouth tolerance might not be as critical. I wanted to build a steel body, out of flat plates, with hand cut and hammered double bevel dovetails. A walnut infill and an iron, cap iron, and lever cap from 1/2" brass, bought or made if I had too. I thought chapter 13 of Kingshotts book was a good place to start, so I read that chapter 5-6 times. I decided that the adjuster was out, since I didn't have access to a mill or lathe. I didn't have anywhere to work but my woodworking space, and here is what I think is needed there. Your bench will get metal shavings, so it is best to make a cover from plywood for it temporarily. I think a decent metal vice is imperative(mine clamps in my wood vice). My tools were pretty limited, they were: an old hacksaw with a big stack of blades. I needed a bimetal blade for the cutting of the plane iron. several new files- My old ones were dull and I didn't realise it until I compared them to the new ones. Nicholson files seem ok. a drill press(poor mans lathe, among other things) I bought: 1) 1) 1) 1) 24" x 3" x 3/16" Starrett #498 low carbon ground flat stock(for sole) 24" x 2.5" x 5/32" " " for the sides 18" x 2.5" x 3/16" Starrett #496 oil hardening steel for the iron bottle layout dye

Each piece was about $25 though the local distributor. Got some 1/8 and 3/16 brass and iron rod, and some sleeve for the 3/16 rod. Everything I bought above was as easy to work as I could make it be, because I bought it in sizes that were the correct thickness and width. I scrounged an odd size brass piece for the lever cap and working that to the correct size with a hacksaw and files is an afternoon better spent elsewhere.

Kingshott suggests using a template for the sides, and he has three charts you can use for side templates. The first is for a Spiers, and when I drew it I thought there was a mistake, because it didn't look at all like the spiers photo at the start of the chapter. I think it is ok, it just won't look like the photo. The second one has a typo in the first line, and I never could get a drawing that worked. The third one seems ok. So, I made my own, as close to the side profiles of the pictured norris's as I could make it. Did them in lexan. He suggests riveting the two sides together and working them as one piece. It actually works great, but its here that I screwed up worst. You clamp the two pieces together, then drill 1/8" diameter holes where you wish to put the rivet holes for riveting the infill and the cap iron. I laid out where I wanted the iron on the side, measured out as far from the bed as I needed to be, and drilled the lever cap holes. About a month later I was pretty mad at myself for drilling them in the wrong place. moral- make sure you know how thick the Iron+Back iron+clearance+lever cap is before you drill that hole. The rivet holes are not nearly as crucial. Then you rivet the sides together with 1/8" brass rod. Fun and easy, made me wish I had an anvil. I made the side profile by line drilling and then filing the excess. Also not hard. Here is where I would change the order from Kingshott(I didn't do this, so there might be a problem I don't see in doing this) He has you file the bevel along the top edge of the sides after the plane is put together. I think it would be a lot easier to do that at this point. I would lay it out, file it and get it as nice as possible at this point, because 1) its easier to work, and make the two sides the same, and 2) you keep all those damn iron filings off your infill wood. His explanation of the dovetailing I found really bad. I kept showing it to my wife and asking "how the hell am I supposed to figure out what to do from this?" Lucky she is a saint. He mentions that the dovetail angles are different than for woodworking. Never says what they are. I just guessed and used 75 degrees. In his book they look more like 60 degrees. Anybody want to measure a real one and tell us? I cut the side tails just like a normal wood set and then drilled and filed. It is really not that bad. Just do a careful layout with the dye, and then check closely as you go along. Geez, I almost forgot my other complaint at this point. When you go to layout the side tails, Kingshott tells you to be careful about placement so that the mouth and side tails are not in the same place, because that will leave the sole cut in half. Then every drawing that I saw was drawn so that the sole was cut in half.(the FWW drawing looks correct) So I just laid mine out as I wanted, 2 in front of the mouth and 4 behind it. I separated the sides, and transfered the tails to the side of the sole. I cut the sole in the same manner as a dovetail in wood and cleaned up with files again. The side tails are the ones that get hammered or peened into the second bevel, so they should be longer than the sole is thick. I made mine about 1/16" longer.(kingshott says "slightly longer". I might even make them 3/32 next time. The pins on the sole should also be longer that the side thickness, this time just a wee little bit. I say that because it is a lot easier to file them down than it is to lapp the whole side down flush with a too short pin. The second bevel I filed with a triangular file on the sole pins. No set angles, I just went till it looked "ok". Again, it is not hard, but if I was doing it over I would have made filed more material away than I did, I would say I had about an 80

degree angle typically, but a little more would have made the joints tighter(I think). I did the clamping of the sides and soles to a wooden block, and the subsequent peening as he described. It worked ok. He then adds a 3/8" thick plate right behind the mouth to support the iron. I have thought about this a lot, and I don't know the right thing to do here. because the sides are in place it is really difficult to rivet, especially for one person. I did it, but all the hammering deformed the sole slightly(enormously painful amount of lapping done later, I stopped counting at 2000 passes, and there are still .001" dips between some of the rivets there. The part that really killed me was that 3-4 of the dovetails were loosened during the riveting of this plate to the sole. Where before you couldn't see any crack between the inner wall of the side, and the side of the sole(looking at the bottom), now you could definitely see a dark line. Man was I pissed at myself. With the infill in place, it is all stable, but I'm still mournful. I guess if I were to do that part over, I would get a better anvil, get some help, and spend another hour doing it. Or, I would do it before putting the sides on. Much easier to rivet on a flat surface, and it is pretty painful to file the rivets inside the body flush when the sides are on. But then you will have to be pretty careful to recess the wooden clamping block to accomodate the 3/8" block. I will probably try riveting it on before the sides next time. I beveled the front edge of this block at 50 degrees(the plane iron pitch I wanted) before I riveted it in place. There isn't much info on the infill, but it is easy compared to the earlier stuff. I morticed the handle into the infill, and it is nice to be able to make a really comfortable handle that fits your hand. I bought Nicholsons #49 and #50 patternmakers rasps, and found that they work really well for shaping the infill. I paid about $30 apiece for them at a local place. I notice Garrett-Wade has them for $50 and $58 in their catalog, I don't know why there is such a difference. Aside: I find myself using them a lot now that I have them. I made the iron and cap iron. I needed the bimetal hacksaw blade to cut the iron, even in its annealed state. I line drilled the central slot for the cap(back?) iron screw and filed it smooth. Not too hard. Hardening and tempering I did with an enormous propane torch, which was real marginal heatwise. It is very hard, and takes an edge at least as good as the one on the LN#62 blade that I have. I made the cap iron from 1/8" thick mild steel. At this point these things started to seem real easy because you are delirious. If you go with a mondo thick iron, you will notice that the stanley cap iron screws won't work(too short). To get around that I cut a small rectangle of 1/8" steel(about .5" x .5") and had it welded where I wanted the screw hole to go, so that the rectangle slid along in the slot in the plane iron. I tried to silver solder it, but my little propane torch could put out enough heat. Cost $5 to get it done. I was worried about making the cap iron because of the critical nature of the cap iron/plane iron contact, but it wasn't too hard. I clamped the back iron so that about 1/2" of the front end was captured by the vice jaws, and then I tapped it just above the vice jaws along the width until it was bent about 25 degrees. To shape the front end of the cap iron so it made a good contact with the plane iron I clamped it in the vice so that the plane of the cap iron was parallel to the floor, with the 1/2" long bent section sticking out to the side(and pointing generally down). The part you want to make contact is the bottom of the

leading edge, so I filed away the top edge so that it was rounded from the bend to the edge. Hard to decribe. But, you can make a nice cap iron this way, I was surprised at how easy it was to get the cap iron/plane iron interface tight. And you get a distinctive looking cap. I liked Kingshotts idea for the removeable lever cap. I did it, and it works ok. I made the stepped pins by filing 1/4" diameter drill rod down to 3/16" in my drill press. Got it pretty close to right the second try. I think drilling the hole in the lever cap is actually better done starting from each side, rather than drilling all the way through.(unless you have things really well lined up.) A good vise for the drill press helps here, wish I had one. I had a devil of a time finding a brass screw for the lever cap. I ended up making one by soldering a 5/16" brass rod into a hole drilled into a 3/4" diameter brass rod. 5/16" nc is ok, but I didn't have a knurling tool, and even if I did I think 3/4" is too small. I will redo this. The dreaded mouth. I figured out about where I wanted the mouth to go way back when I was figuring out the sides( drew two parallel lines 3/16" apart at a 50 degree angle to the sole). I transferred that to the sole, and checked that it lined up with the 3/8" piece I had riveted to the sole. I did a bunch more line drilling, cleaned up with files, and then I had a nice tight slot that my iron couldn't possibly fit through. I filed the back edge until it was all at the right angle(50 degrees in my case) and then I started filing the front edge of the mouth. File, check with the iron, file. I didn't file for more than a few hours. The clearance is a pretty uniform .020". Here again, Kingshotts book gives no numbers, and the FWW article author set his to 3/64", which is .047". Anyway, it would have been easy to stop at any point between .003 and where I did. That is encouraging for the smoother, which I guess should have a much smaller mouth opening. Anybody know what a good value is for the mouth opening on a smoother, or a larger plane like the one I have been describing? So, that is about it. I cut the plane iron too short. If you make the handle so that the front of it is close to the back of the iron, the top of the iron should extend well above the handle, something I didn't think about until after the smoke had cleared. The plane works well enough, in my opinion. Once you get started making it the woodworking stops, because your shop is full of metal. and then Christmas comes around and it is time to make stuff. So, I am still tweaking it and messing with the lever cap. It was long and very hard, If you have a mill you would be starting way ahead of the game. I think it would turn out nicer also. I don't know if a hydraulic press could be used for the riveting, but if it could, it would be nice. The hammering is not so bad, but little dings from the occasional miss take forever to lap out. $70 of materials+ some scrounged stuff. $100 of files and rasps buckets of time. If anyone knows a reference for how these planes were made I would love to know about it. This is way too long, again, please forgive me. Best regards, Mike

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