Tag Archives: wooden planes

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 (http://www.jenesaisquoiwoodworking.com/petite-wooden-smoothing-plane/)


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.


Petite Wooden Smoothing Plane


I have been reading about and planing to make my own wooden planes for about a year now. I first thought of the idea when I realised how expensive it is to order good quality planes from the USA. For every two Lie-Nielsen planes I pay for an extra one in shipment fees. Make no mistake, the people at Lie-Nielsen have the best customer service I have ever come across and as everyone knows their planes are superb. Yet, sending it half way around the globe costs money.

The more I read about the wooden versions, the more it sounded like they might almost be better than their heftier cousins. Being a bit of a traditionalist, the idea of building my own wooden planes started to gain some momentum. I then had discussions with Deneb Puchalski of Lie-Nielsen around which blades might be best for the types of planes I wanted to build. He was very helpful and in the end I decided on:

1) Three x 2″ wide standard blades with chipbreakers (25 degree primary bevel)


2) One 1¾” wide standard blade with chipbreakers (25 degree primary bevel)


3) One Scrub plane replacement blade 1½” x 3/16 (thick)


4) One large shoulder plane replacement blade 1¼” x 8¼” x 0.140″ (thick)
The blades arrived on the 11th of June 2013 at which time I started to hunt down beech. Surprisingly, I found some in the Land of the Brave. I decided to first build a smoother and a scrub plane to warmup.
In the pictures below you can see the first chunk of beech after it received attention from the planer.


At this point in time I still did not rehabilitate my bandsaw (thus not able to re-saw at all and definitely not ysterhout in any dimension approaching what was needed), so I had to plane a fairly small piece of ysterhout down to about 8 mm thickness (from about 24 mm). I wanted to use this incredibly hard wood for the soles of my planes. In the pictures below you can see how I used the bandsaw to cut the sole of the smoother.


After studying the grain of the beech I decided to laminate it as you can see in the pictures below. It is impossible to find beech in bigger dimensions (around these parts) so lamination was my only option. Speeaking of which, I can really recommend the documents on building wooden planes written by Larry Williams and his partner at Old Street Tools. You will find the link on the library page of this site. There are articles on grain orientation, best woods to use etc etc.


Here you can see how I laminated the parts.


For some or other reason I decided to stick it in the face vise, which is not the best as the two jaws are not completely parallel, and I have made this mistake before. Anyway, it came out OK, but I really need to stop doing this.


Next step was to hand plane the sides dead flat and square to the sole. You can appreciate the beautiful soft shavings generated by my newly rehabilitated Stanley no.5 Jack Plane. I wrote a complete post on this project which you can find in the category by the name of “Rehabilitation of old tools”.


In order to make the next cut I was forced to spend most of the next week trying to fix and tuneup my old crappy bandsaw. The results however made it well worth my while. After the tune-up it sliced such perfect strips off the side that it only took a few strokes with the plane to get them as smooth as a baby’s bottom …


… as you can see here.


I then used the planer/thicknesser to get the inside close to the correct width. Maybe a bit less than 3 mm wider than the width of the blade. For this Petite Smoother I chose the 1¾” blade.



Here you can see how I marked out the bedding angle at 51º (just to be different of course).


In order to make this next cut I had to build a jig for my bandsaw. I call it a “Bandsaw Mitre-sled”. You can find and read an entire post on this project under the above name …


… here you can see the actual cut.


In the first picture you can see the toe and heel section after the first cut. In the next pictures you can appreciate the curve that was cut in the toe section.


I used the Green Monster to smooth the curved surface of the toe section.


In order to prevent blowout of the Ysterhout sole while planing the so called ramp, I used the wedge (off-cut) that was created by the two cuts made earlier. You can see how I clamped it in the legvise to support the fibers on the delicate edge of the sole.



After getting rid of the saw marks left by the bandsaw by means of the old Stanley Jack Plane I used the 3M Adhesive-backed sandpaper on a sheet of float glass to get it 100% flat. You will note the technique I use frequently in scribbling on the area with a 2B pencil before sanding to identify the areas that needs more attention. Once all the pencil marks disappear you know the job is done.



The next step is to start marking out the position of the toe and heel sections relative to each other. I started by marking out the position of the toe piece and clamping it into this position.



For the next step it is useful to have the blade in it’s position on the heel section, also known as the ramp. In the second picture you might just be able to see the line I marked at 1.5 mm parallel to the sole on the toe section. The idea is to line the cutting edge of the blade up with this line as demonstrated in the second picture. This tells you were the heel section should be relative to the toe section. You then remove the blade and mark the position with a pencil.



In the first two pictures below you can see where I marked out the perimeters of the cap-screw slot. The off-cut wedge is again priceless to create a big enough surface in order to cut the slot with a router as shown. Please note the makeshift stop I’ve setup on the left hand side.



Just a quick test to see whether the slot functions as planed.



In order to drill the second of the cross-pin holes you need to clamp the whole shebang together after drilling the one side in the correct spot. You will find a host of different ways to identify this point on the internet. I used the measurements provided in an article titled “Wood Planes made easy” by David Finck in Fine Woodworking Magazine. Once I clamped it all into position I tapped some minute panel pins into each corner to ensure that I could put it all back together exactly in the same way during the glueing phase.



The idea is then to stick the drill bit through the existing hole to drill the opposing hole exactly in the correct place using a perfectly square drill press setup as shown.



The cross-pin was created by milling a scrap piece of Assegaai down to a ½” square strip that was much longer than needed. In the pictures you can see how I removed some stock by means of the table saw to start shaping the pins on either side. In future I would rather do this with my Lie-Nielsen carcass saw. In the next few picture you can see how I shaped the pins with a file.



To make sure that everything fitted perfectly I did a dry fit as shown.


Then I shaped the cross-pin further by using this setup.


The glue-up is fairly straightforward due to the panel pins that ensures that it all comes together precisely how it was previously decided. Please note the caul clamped to the sole area to ensure that it ends up perfectly aligned.


The cross-pins were then trimmed flush.


Next step was to shape the plane and I started by cutting the ends containing the panel pins away.


Then I marked out this funky curvy configuration on the ysterhout sole. The reason for doing this on the sole was that I wanted to have the sole at the top while cutting the curves on the bandsaw to prevent blowout of the rocklike yet brittle ysterhout. In the second picture you can see the result of the bandsaw’s caress.


The bandsaw marks were removed by a series of steps including the use of a float, a smoothing plane and finally various grids of sandpaper on float glass. The result was staggeringly beautiful to say the least.


The piece of Tamboti you see in the pictures below is the only one I have left and a board I know as long as I can remember. I thought that this was the ideal place to use such a priceless piece of timber. I decided to produce the wedge of this sexy petite plane using Tamboti.


Here you can see the wedge in it’s early stages.


The next step was to decorate the plane further with some sexy stopped chamfers. I marked it out by hand using a pencil and my finger as a fence. You can probably see that I deliberately did not do a 45º chamfer, but rather one that further complements the elegant elongated shape of the plane.


Using the pencil lines as guides I used a small Lie-Nielsen block plane, a file and my Proletarian Sanding Contrivance to create the chamfers.


Then I moved on to flattening the sole. It is important to tap the wedge into position at about the same tension as it would be while being used, before attempting to flatten the sole. The pressure from the wedge deforms the sole ever so slightly so the idea is to flatten it in the shape it will assume while the wedge is tapped into place. You can see that I once again scribbled on the sole prior to flattening in order to identify when it is completely flat.


In order to custom-fit the wedge I dialed in the width by planing down the sides with my rehabilitated old Stanley no.4 Smoother. Apparently one should be careful not to make the wedge too tight-fitting as far as the wedge goes as it can damage the plane if it expands during humid months. I therefore made it about 3 mm narrower than the ramp. In the last of these three pictures you can see the plane hammer I built to set the plane. You will find an entire post devoted to this project under the category “Handtools”.


I sharpened the Lie-Nielsen blade to have a cambered edge.


I took to a small piece of swarthout to test the little beauty and the results were incredible. It gave the best finish I have ever seen and the shavings were extremely thin and soft. There were not even a hint of chatter. What also surprised me was how easy it is to set the blade with the small plane hammer. It almost felt easier than setting a cast iron plane.


Here are two photos to show off the beautiful Lie-Nielsen iron-chipbreaker set.


Part of the success of this little plane must be the tight mouth. In these pictures you can also appreciate the je ne sais quoi of the ysterhout sole.


Finally a few pictures of the plane in the late afternoon sun after a light coat of Ballistol. I plan to treat the sole with wax once I find a suitable product.



4/9/2013 – I finally got round to treating this little beauty after using it for a few weeks. You can see how it joined it’s bigger cousin at the Finishing Spa.



Here are a few final photos of a little plane that has already become a go-to tool in my shop within the space a month.