File accommodation

28/10/2013 – Over the past year I have realised how useful a tool the file is. During my plane building phase, which took up almost all of my shop time over the past 6 months the file became a real asset. It shaped the totes and created perfect stopped chamfers.

The way my files were stored until the weekend frustrated me with a vengeance. It was a quick fix when I first started setting-up shop, but not really doing the job anymore. In the picture below you can see this first attempt at storing them. They frequently fell out of their handles and ended up banging against each other when I tried to grab one or return it.


I then came up with the following plan. A small space became available when I moved my planes so I thought of building a type of beehive with PVC pipe to store each file in it’s own sheath. I bought 7 x 1 meter lengths of PVC pipe as shown below.



They were then each cut into 2 x 300 mm and 1x 400 mm lengths giving me 7 x 400 mm and 14 x 300 mm pieces. I drilled 4 holes into each end of these piece to accept cable tie.




The pieces were then tied together using cable tie as shown …




… and voila, a filehive. The next step would be to replace these horrible plastic handles with shop made Witpeer handles. I am in the process of documenting that project, so keep an eye out for the post.


Apodytes Dimidiata Scratch Awl

28/10/2013 – During this past weekend I decided to take a wee break from my extended plane-building-activities. I wanted to do something else on a weekend where there would be plenty of interruptions, with a 5 year old’s birthday party, the October Fest and several other social commitments. The Witpeer (Apodytes dimidiata) board below has spent about 3 months acclimatizing to the shop so I thought it could do the job for all the file handles I want to turn. While preparing the stock for these handles, I decided to also turn a scratch awl.


The board was a bit wavy so I first chopped it into shorter chunks as shown. Then I used the bandsaw to rip these pieces ideal for file handle turning and a scratch awl.



The thin strips pictured, were cut from the off-cuts on the bandsaw intended to be used as spatulas while glueing (other projects).


This was all that was left of the board, and soon to become “fynhoutjies” to start a fire.


Before turning the handles and awl, I changed my lathes around. The grey one has developed a slight wobble so it is now earmarked to become a disc sander.


I used this beautiful shop made Jack plane to find a piece of stock with very straight grain by planing the various surfaces to see what is going on.



The Awl being turned.


For the ferrule I used part of a 7 mm Remington Magnum brass case. You can see how I proceeded to shape it.



In the end I came up with a ferrule that suited my purposes perfectly.


In the picture below you can see the steel punch I used for the sharp end of the awl. I drilled a hole in the wooden shaft and cut a slot in the front part intended to end up inside the ferrule. This part was turned slightly bigger than the inside diameter of the ferrule to ensure that the two sides would clamp down on the shaft of the punch when the ferrule is tapped over.


As you can see the wood was first lubricated with epoxy  and then the ferrule was taped over. The block of wood underneath has a hole drilled into it to let the punch through in order to only move the ferrule into position.


Here you can see the final product after a tung oil treatment.


Shop made wooden plane show-off

14/10/2013 – I wanted to show off the wooden planes I’ve built so far. While drinking a glass of Sauvignon Blanc I took heaps of photos on the Rhodesian Teak tree truck that acts as our bar top. Please note that all these planes apart from the Flush Plane are powered by exquisite Lie-Nielsen blades.

First a few family photos.


Petite Smoother bedded at 50º



Idiosyncratic Scrub Plane bedded at 45º



Jack Plane bedded at 50º and around 17″ in length



Fore Plane bedded at 50º and around 24″ in length


 Jointer bedded at 50º and 31″ in length



Shoulder Plane bevel-up blade bedded at 20º




Flush Plane




Building a wooden Shoulder Plane


The third plane I prioritised to build was a shoulder plane. As per usual I decided to use a Lie-Nielsen blade in the form of their Large Shoulder Plane replacement blade. As you can see in the pictures below it is a blade that is designed to be used bevel up, given the bevels on the sides of the top of the bit end. I did not really grasp this until it was pointed out to me by Deneb Puchalski from Lie-Nielsen. I actually planed to bed the blade at 50-55º and use it bevel down. He advised me to consider a much lower bedding angle while using the blade bevel up.

I then started thinking of a way to change the design quite radically from the examples I found in my research. You will have to wait and see how it turns out as I myself still does not know exactly what the final design will look like. I will again (similar to what I did with the Scrub Plane) write this post as I progress with the project.

In the pictures below you can see the beech I used for the project and the Lie-Nielsen blade.


As with the other planes I have built so far I had to laminate in order to get the size stock required. I laminated it in this particular orientation to ensure that I have the grain running in the direction recommended by the guys from Old Street Tools. I can really recommend their articles (which is available for free download from their site) on plane building. You will find the the link to their site on the library page of this site.


The lamination process. You will notice the use of my glue roller. I wrote a separate post on how I made this tool, which you will find under the category “Hand tools”


The beech blank.


I used the actual blade to mark out the next step of cutting away the sides …


… as so. In the last of the three pictures you can see the strips I ripped off the sides, which were then glued back on the centre piece.


Before glueing the strips back I first fed the inside to the thicknesser to get it down to about 2 mm wider than the tang of the blade.


The strips were then hand planed to improve the contact during glueing.


Dry-fit and glue.



Here you can see how I removed the hardened glue with my shop-made flush plane before hand planing the sole in preparation for the glueing on of the ysterhout sole.


Glueing on the ysterhout sole.


I then used my bandsaw Mitre-sled to cut a 20 º bedding angle for the blade and 12º space for the wedge.


Up until this stage the design I was aiming for looked like the one below …

Shoulder plane design

… but I realised that the small triangular area on the “bedding piece” available as a glueing surface for the kershout sides (still to be made), would not be adequate. I therefore dropped the project and continued with the four other planes (Jack, Fore, Smoothing planes and a jointer) I started working on.



During a trip to Cape Town recently to go and what the Springboks butcher the Ozzies, I had some time to think on the plane (that is thinking on the airplane about the shoulder plane) and came up with an idea of how to hopefully make this plane work. As I am writing this I still have no idea if it would work as it entails quite a few tasks that I have never attempted before.

Anyway, I got back on the horse and took some beautiful kershout from this massive board. A Kershout tree of this size would have been between 700 – 1000 years old if my friend who studied these things knows anything.


I re-sawed the piece on the bandsaw and tidied it up with the thicknesser and hand planes.


Here you can see my delightful petite smoothing plane in action. I wrote an entire post on how I built it a few months ago (


The plane was then glued together. In the first picture below you can see an unpolished piece of stainless steel, which is integral to the success (hopefully at this stage) of my new idea.



7/10/2013 – I released the plane from the clamps on Friday afternoon and spent an hour playing around with various shapes and designs based on an idea I had. Finally I came up with the design as drawn on the blank before heading down to our Barbie area to light a fire and drink a few cold beverages.


On Saturday morning I started to shape the plane in order to be able to epoxy these strips of stainless steel in place so that it could set well overnight.


You can see how I made a few test cuts in a scrap piece of plywood to ensure the absolute correct depth of cut for the dado meant to accept the stainless steel. I used my removable pipe-clamp-end-vise to keep the plane in position for cutting the dado.


The two dados meant to accept the two stales steel bars is clearly visible in the first two pictures. I then proceeded to shape the rest of the plane by drilling out certain areas an using the bandsaw for the rest.


The next step was to epoxy the stainless steel into place.


The next day I drilled out six holes through the stainless steel from side to side. These holes were 6 mm in diameter with the entrance chamfered slightly, as you can see. I made six pins out of 6 mm brass rod that was about 5 mm longer than the width of the plane and whacked it through the holes with equal amounts protruding at each end.


I used the setup below to rest one of the protruding ends on while whacking the other with a hammer until the brass moved into the chamfered area and fixing the stainless steel into this position for ever.


As you can see in the pictures below, I then removed the untidy excess metal and polished it as best as I can given my lack of metal working tools and skills.


Then came the long hard slog of shaping the edges of the plane using a block plane, a spokeshave, and several files.


Sides were tidied up with my shop made proletarian sanding contrivances.


At present the plane looks like this. Next I have to make the wedge and am considering to try some decorative coloured epoxy inlays, but let’s see what happens.



13/10/13 – On Friday afternoon I quickly fashioned this wedge out of beech.


On Saturday I changed the shape ever so slightly as you can see here. The blade will be set by a special plane hammer with a delicate neck, which I still have to build.




The next step was to ensure that the sole of the plane is 100% square with the left cheek. As a right-hander I would use the plane predominantly with the left cheek as reference surface. I used the setup as shown to sand the sole square.


As discussed in one of the “My journey” posts, I am using this tool building phase to try out and practice techniques that might come in handy when I start building furniture. Here I thought of trying-out coloured epoxy inlaying to add some je ne sais quoi to the shoulder plane. I used the drill bit pictured to create the grooves and tidied it up with a carving tool.


As you can see, I mixed some epoxy with acrylic paint …


… and used small scrap bits of wood as spatulas to work the mixture into the grooves. After a few hours I used my shop made flush plane to cut most of the excess away before the epoxy became too hard. It is a shlep to sand it away once it becomes rocklike.


I then used my proletarian sanding contrivances to sand away the last little bit of epoxy and started the finishing process as shown.


Here are a few pictures of the finished shoulder plane. Now I only have to sharpen the blade and Bob’s your uncle. The blade is bedded at 20º with a 25º primary bevel. I am planning to hone and polish a small secondary bevel at 28º, producing a 48º effective angle of attack.


Spring steel


Yesterday I received some really good news. The guys at Geva Sales in Windhoek informed me that they will be able to access 0.5 mm thick sheet spring steel for me. It would enable me to build all the backsaws that I can not buy in Namibia. I am planning to kickoff with two Tenon saws (one cross cut and one rip) and a Dovetail saw.

I will keep you posted on the progress. Anyone who wants to build their own saw can benefit from looking at the websites listed on the library page of this site, especially