Making a Wood Bodied Block Plane - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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Making a Wood Bodied Block Plane

Ive been doing too much metalwork lately, and i needed to get back to my roots and do some woodworking. So, i decided to make a block plane, as the blade on my last one suffered an unfortunate accident that resulted in it being bent along a 2 inch radius. So, project in mind, the first thing i need to do is gather materials. First, the blade:


Ive yet to find a good way of photographing polished steel. Anyway, one of the advantages of being a knife maker is if i need a cutting tool, its never to hard to make one. The blades roughly 1 5/8 wide, and 5ish inches long. I think. Honestly, Im not really measuring anything in this build, just to show how easy it is to get it all together, and how you dont need anything special. Anyway, the blades 1095 steel, ground and heat treated in house by me. Those of you building along at home, if youre lacking a fancy heat treating furnace and belt grinder, blades like this arent hard at all to find, ive heard excellent things about Hock Tools for example.

Anyway, now that we have a blade, we need the wood portion of this wood bodied hand plane. Looking around for a suitable chunk in my scraps, i spied this:


An old table leg i picked up years ago thinking id build something with it. I used my jointer to take off most of the finish, and it appears to be some form of maple. Works for me! Ideally you use the hardest wearing hardwood you have for at least the sole, so that the plane doesnt wear away too fast.

So, thats the big 2 things we need, onto the building. First off, heres a photo of my old block plane, which ill be using to get a rough idea of the dimensions:


Bout an inch and a half wide, maybe 6 inches long and 2 inches at its tallest. I dunno, it doesnt matter, im not touching a tape measure for this project, just eyeballing it. Ready? Lets go then! First step is to cut an appropriately sized chunk out of that table leg, then rip said chunk to be just a little bit, bout 1/16, wider than the blade youre using:


That little bit of extra width will allow adjustment of the blade laterally. Now, the next step is cutting a few pieces of wood to serve as the sides of the plane. you could use the same species as the main body of the plane, but i like a little more flair. Looking around, i spied a scrap piece of walnut that showed promise, so i cut a few pieces to length, then resawed them down to about 1/2 thick:


All the players assembled, lets get ready for the fun stuff! Now follow me to part 2 because i can only upload 5 pictures at a time!
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post #2 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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So, part 2, now time to start turning these blocks into a plane! First thing we need to do is cut a wedge out of that block of maple to make the frog and throat. Some quick layout:


You can see a rough centerline, then forward of the centerline a few angled marks. The mark on the left is roughly 45 degrees, and thats where the blades gonna sit in the finished plane, thats the frog. The angled line on the right is 75ish or so, thats just going to open up the throat of the plane a bit to allow shavings to escape. Now, the frog angle is as critical as any measurements im going to do on this, as the angle of the blade is important in planes. Still though, not that big of a deal, people were making these things back before we had protractors after all. So, weve got the lines to get a rough idea of how the cuts are going to me, so lets make them!


Tadaa! A quick word on these cuts, i prefer to make angles cuts on the table saw by tilting the blade and leaving the miter gage at 90, because my miter gage is a piece of crap and once its set i dont wanna move it. Beyond that, i did nothing special to set the angle, just used the scale on the saw . Anyway, now we're ready for the glueup. im using a piece of melamine as a surface to do the glueup on, as its flat and glue doesnt stick to it. Step one, draw a few lines:



Now, those lines are there so i know how far apart i want the 2 piece of maple to be. I want those 2 wedge shaped pieces to be separate because, well, the blade has to protrude though the bottom of the sole. Those lines on the melamine give me a reference point while im doing the glueup. I 'measured' where the lines would be by holding the blade on the frog, then seeing how far forward of that the other piece would need to be for the blade to protrude. No pictures of that unfortunately, i only have so many hands. Anyway, glue and clamp like so:


And now we wait for the glue to dry!
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post #3 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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Huh, waiting for the glue to dry i remembered i completely forgot to do anything about the cross pin, AKA the part of the plane that actually holds the blade in place. Hmm... Stay tuned to figure out how i fix that blunder!

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post #4 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 09:58 PM
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duplicate photos

Your "attached thumbnails" are duplicates of the photos above... makes it confusing until you figure that out .... too many photos! :frown2: Edit out the attached ones.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #5 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Your "attached thumbnails" are duplicates of the photos above... makes it confusing until you figure that out .... too many photos! :frown2: Edit out the attached ones.
You can blame that one on WWT's system for uploaded photos. It displays any uploads at the bottom of the post, and to have the images flow with the writing i have to link the image in the writing, resulting in the double photo posting.

Irritating, i know, but nothing i can do about it

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post #6 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 11:28 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, got my mistake figured out, so back to building. Heres how everything looks outside of the clamps, with the blade inserted so i can get a rough idea where the cross pin should go:


I transferred some geometry onto the outside of the plane so i could accurately lay out where the cross pin need to be. Again, no critical measurements, there just needs to be some room between the cross pin and the blade for the wedge to go:


And drill a 1/2 inch hole through both sides of the plane for the 1/2 dowel used as the cross pin:


Test fit to confirm everything fits:


Fits perfectly, with enough room for the wedge to get in there. Im using a 1/2 walnut dowel here, its what i had in the scrap bin. Little glue holds it in place just fine.

Now, i though i made a mistake glueing up everything before i got the cross pin made up because the first plane i made i didnt just use a dowel. Instead, i used a 1/2 square piece of stock with a round tenon on each end that was just inserted in the holes in the cheeks and left to rotate, like so:


The theory there being that the flats of the square stock would provide a better bearing surface for the wedge. Turns out, the dowel works just fine, so crisis averted. It actually worked out pretty well in my favor, the dowel was a lot easier to make. So, next up, making the wedge!
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post #7 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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So, the wedge. Start off with a piece of red oak, cut to fit inside the cavity on the plane and about yea long:


I seriously dont have a clue how long that piece was. 2.5 inches maybe, and about 1/2 inches thick. At any rate, it worked. Some rough layout:


The horizontal line was roughly how much room i had between the blade and the cross pin, and an angle was drawn from that point up to a little roundover on the opposite end. Some rough cutting on the bandsaw followed, then a test fit to confirm it was cut right, then some smoothing of everything on the belt grinder:




The slightest tap on the back of the wedge was enough to lock the blade in place, so i call that a success! Now just a little shaping work to do
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post #8 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 11:42 PM Thread Starter
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On to the shaping of the body. First order of business was to run the plane through the saw to even up the top, as up to this point the cheek pieces were a fair bit shorter than the center. Once i had the top flat, i used that to lay out a few curves on the front and back:


Another trip to the bandsaw and grinder:


Little less blocky now, and nicer in the hand. A quick comparison to the model i was using for dimensions:


Little longer, but not too bad otherwise. Now, from here i debated a bit on putting a few curves or otherwise removing material from the top of the plane, but i ended up just putting a 1/4 roundover on the top edges instead. Sure, it could be fancier, but its a rool and the roundover on the edges feels pretty good in the hand. So, after the roundover and sanding to 220:


Very nearly finished up at this point. Ill let the glue dry overnight, then tomorrow ill work on flattening the sole and getting a few coats of linseed oil on it, as well as sharpening the blade
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post #9 of 23 Old 09-20-2016, 12:22 AM
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Your pictures and information is making me visualize this better than most tutorials I have seen online. Great job. I'll be using this as reference.

I do have question. Is there any advantage between using a dowel and a wedge vs using the wedge with the sides elongated inside like in this picture?
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post #10 of 23 Old 09-20-2016, 01:49 AM
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Very well executed! Cool!
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post #11 of 23 Old 09-20-2016, 02:59 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodrat View Post
Your pictures and information is making me visualize this better than most tutorials I have seen online. Great job. I'll be using this as reference.

I do have question. Is there any advantage between using a dowel and a wedge vs using the wedge with the sides elongated inside like in this picture?
I don't know if there's any functional difference, no. I will say the cross pin and wedge is a lot easier to make though.

Glad I could help out mate! I'm not the best at these write-ups, but I do try to provide enough visual information so people know what I'm talking about

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post #12 of 23 Old 09-20-2016, 06:47 PM
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I've always wondered how you keep the blade exposure even on both sides of the sole with the wedge.....do you just wiggle it even?
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post #13 of 23 Old 09-20-2016, 07:53 PM
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Cool build!

Though it's not exactly a block plane to replace your metal one, since the angle of the blade on most block planes is much lower than 45 degrees to make cleaning up end grain easier. It's tough to make a truly low angle plane out of wood, I've read, since the wood ends up too thin to support the blade. But you probably could have made it more like 35 degrees without too much trouble.

I keep meaning to try and make a plane. Might attempt the laminated method like you did here.
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post #14 of 23 Old 09-20-2016, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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Cool build!

Though it's not exactly a block plane to replace your metal one, since the angle of the blade on most block planes is much lower than 45 degrees to make cleaning up end grain easier. It's tough to make a truly low angle plane out of wood, I've read, since the wood ends up too thin to support the blade. But you probably could have made it more like 35 degrees without too much trouble.

I keep meaning to try and make a plane. Might attempt the laminated method like you did here.
This plane is bevel down, so the effective angle of the blade is actually 45 degrees, and with your average block plane being bevel up, bedded at about 20 degrees with a 20-25 degree edge angle, the difference is moot. I suppose you could still argue that it isn't a block plane because block planes traditionally are bevel up, but let's face it, the terminology used to describe planes is a bloody mess anyway. One could argue this is a small smoother plane, instead of a block plane, but let's be honest, it doesn't really matter.

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I've always wondered how you keep the blade exposure even on both sides of the sole with the wedge.....do you just wiggle it even?
Tap it with a hammer. There's a fine art to adjusting the places in wood planes, personally I find it to be quite a pain

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post #15 of 23 Old 09-21-2016, 04:17 AM Thread Starter
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So, onto the last part, flattening and finishing. This is really a quick and simple process to do, all the flattening takes is a piece of sandpaper and a flat surface. Now, i gave a decent bit of care to my glueup, so the sole of the plane was already pretty flat, making getting it truly flat quick and painless. Were it not already fairly flat, i mightve run it over a jointer, but here it was unecessary. So, first off, i like scribbling on the sole with a pencil:


This just shows you how close you are to flat as you sand. Now, take a piece of sandpaper, set it on a flat surface (i used my table saw, and flat surcade will do), and scrub the plane on the paper until all the pencil goes away, like this:


Nice and flat, no pencil remaining. After that, i set the blade in the plane without it protruding and wedged it in place, then repeated the process. This is so the sole is flat even with the added stresses of wedging the blade in place causing the sole to flex. With the cheek pieces being as thick as they are on this plane, there wasnt much flex at all, so the second round went pretty quick. I chose to break this into 2 separate sessions of flattening for no real reason, i just wanted to see how far out of flat the sole would get with the blade tensioned.


At any rate, thats all for the flattening process. Technically, the plane could be ready to use now, but really should have a finish applied. I like going with a few coats of linseed oil for something like this, pictures of that to come tomorrow when its dried.

On last thing, i mentioned during the glueup that the 2 center piece need to be set a little ways apart from each other to set the throat, this is what the throat looks like with that done properly:


The throat is just barely large enough for the blade to protrude, while still allowing for shavings to poke through. The fit pictured is straight from the glueup, no shaping was done after the fact to size the throat, so my little trick with the witness marks worked out pretty well.

Now all thats left to do is wait for the linseed oil to dry and sharpen the blade, stay tuned for the final glamour shot!
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post #16 of 23 Old 09-22-2016, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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Time for some glamor shots!



Zebra pen for scale, as i still havent measured any part of this... The linseed oil did a pretty good job bringing out the character of the wood. I quite like linseed oil for this sort of work, itd actually be my favorite finish were it not for the unplesant, lingering smell. Anyway, enough with the glamour shots, does it cut?



Yes it does, quite well i may add. Theres a weird sort of alchemy involved in getting the blade in a wood plane set, one that ive never managed to master. Ah well, i never planned on keeping this anyway. Im planning on putting it up on etsy, ill post the link here if im allowed to..?
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post #17 of 23 Old 09-22-2016, 01:51 AM
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For no measurements it looks really nice. Definitely looks like you more work into then what you say you did.
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post #18 of 23 Old 09-22-2016, 08:53 AM
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I really enjoyed following this project.

As a side note, for help with images being inserted where you want them to be, see the following tutorial.
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f33/h...r-posts-63933/

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post #19 of 23 Old 09-22-2016, 10:15 AM
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Yes, a cool thread...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cricket View Post
I really enjoyed following this project.

As a side note, for help with images being inserted where you want them to be, see the following tutorial.
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f33/h...r-posts-63933/

This method was posted on You Tube years back. Some of his issues have to do with posting from a mobile device I believe....? No other threads that I am aware of contain duplicates of the photos, so it's the method, not ta WWT site issue:


The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #20 of 23 Old 09-22-2016, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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For no measurements it looks really nice. Definitely looks like you more work into then what you say you did.
It's one of those deceptively simple projects that looks really complex. The bottom line is all the measurements are referential off the other parts, and almost none of the dimensions are critical in any way. The only thing I had to keep in mind way the blade had to fit inside the blade, and I had a rough idea of the length I wanted. Nothing else had to be exact, had I started with a different size blade or wanted a longer plane the same method would still apply. Even the bedding angle didn't need any sort of measurement, that was set off the gauge on my saw, and could've just as easily be done by eye, because a few degrees in either direction don't really matter.

In all, it was a fun project, and very cathartic given that everything else I've been doing lately has had tolerances of .001 or less. Kinda fun just slapping something together without any thoughts given to measurement

Quote:
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I really enjoyed following this project.

As a side note, for help with images being inserted where you want them to be, see the following tutorial.
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f33/h...r-posts-63933/
Huh, whoops. I'll keep that j. Mind for the future. At any rate though, I can't see how the thumbnails in this post in any way detract from what I set out to do, which was illustrate how I make a wooden hand plane and try to demystify the process. If the thumbnails offended anybody, well, oopsie. Might I suggest following a different set of building instructions, instead of giving orders?
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