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User avatar
By Ttrees
Hello folks
Got the chance to do a bit of metalwork for the next few days, and I fancy making a start at a shoulder plane build.
I'm thinking something along the lines of the older Preston ones that use a wooden wedge.

I think I will use regular mild steel plate, as I probably have something thicker than, say 4mm(ish)
stock which I will be using for the sides.
I am going to dovetail the sides but I see some other things that look like they could be welded.
Has anyone hade a WIP on this ?

I am curious on traditional construction of this kind of plane, and have a few questions
The early Preston and similiar seem to be cast, but I have seen the term gunmetal used often...
Point I'm getting at (badly) is.... there must be the handmade way for making it in the same style...

I was hoping Bill Carter would make some videos on using mild steel for planes, before I got around to it....
as I have a few planes in mind
Maybe someone could give me some info, or links on the topic, or point me in the right direction for the questions I have.

Dovetail angle... guessing its a 1 in .... (fill in blank)
Recommended thickness of sole using mild steel, and at what bedding angle?
The ends of the plane... are they dovetailed into the sides, welded, or both?...
Come to think about it, are the dovetailed sides welded too?

What about the connecting piece the wedge bears against... guessing this is dovetailed into the sides?

I have other questions about peining ...
Is it a regular drilled hole or is there a small countersink for the mushrooming ?
What metal to use for the job, where to get it easily, do I need a blowtorch?

Sorry about the amount of questions
User avatar
By Ttrees
Watching some youtube videos on plane construction by novices so far, has infulenced me on the following...
Not to have very steeply angled dovetails, as it looks tricky to get into the corners and making a nice job.

And the fact there seems to be no need for end caps on the plane, if treated gently
This looks like it might take some time otherwise.

Still in the dark about the proper materials, and which way to pein the connecting "pins" if thats the proper word

User avatar
By AndyT
I made a very simple shoulder plane from mild steel. I riveted it together.
Pictures here


It's not the prettiest but it works well.

If I did one now I would use a shallow tapered reamer to enlarge the holes, rather than an ordinary countersink, but the construction method is sound.
User avatar
By Ttrees
Hello again
Looking at some more designs since in the same pattern as the Preston...

There is some stuff needed to make a really good plane properly...
I thought I could get away with just the hard work part #-o

I dont think I would be able to drill with the inaccurate pillar drill in the metalshop...
I have a solid one in the woodshop, but thats not close by.
Although this project may take longer than I'd like, so I may consider that yet..

Looking at a gunmetal shoulder plane by Spiers which has peined dovetails, so it cant be taken apart.
I was originally aiming to not have to do any peining for a few reasons, but this has made me think again for future projects...

I have at least decided, that I dont like the look of the dovetails which are not splayed enough, so the dovetail square
'one in seven IIRC, is not going to be used.
I have brought the protractor and the sliding bevel aswell, as it looks like most are at the angle of a trianglular file @ 60 deg it looks.

It seems I should consider getting some annealed stock for the pins
Is there any HACK way I could find or make some annealed round stock?

I maybe able to get away with filing instead of getting a reamer for the job, as counter sinking bits seems not to be the tool for the job.
I might try finding out what angle the blade is bedded at, when I need a cuppa

It seems like the Veritas medium sized shoulder plane is the preffered size, I might make this plane to those dimentions...

I have no blade for this yet, and toying with the idea of welding a chisel to some mild steel or something similiar

Thanks for reading
User avatar
By Ttrees
Back again with some more research done
I found a fellow on Youtube called Young Je, he is peining dovetails in the start of this video
He is doing this to rolled steel without any annealing needed, and it looks, dare I say....achieveable.

On the design matter at least I've got some hints what to shoot for on the bedding angle for the iron...
It seems the Clifton which I have read designed on a later Preston with a lever cap is bedded at 18.5 degrees.
The Lie-Nielsen at 18 and the Veritas at a 15 degrees.

I will go with either 18 or 18.5, unless I can find out that these older Preston versions are bedded at something else.
David Barron has made a nice post on this plane made by George Miller in the Spiers style.
His post is makes me want to copy the design
I havent decided on length, but it seems most are about 11/16" wide, so thats what I'm shooting for at the minute.
Looking up George Miller shoulder planes, suggests that planes in this style seem to be well in the inch and over...
That's not to say there's no reason to make one slimmer, right? :)

On the end caps or whatever you should call them, I'm still in the dark on that one.

Thanks for reading
User avatar
By Pete Maddex
For the blade you will need O1 steel easily obtainable form eBay Cromwell tools etc.
Welding a chisel to some bar won't work.

You need to make sure you have clearance to insert the blade down the throat of the plane, this is one reason the blades are chamfered at the sides.

User avatar
By Ttrees
Thanks Pete
I still may try to weld a chisel though, as I'm doing things on the cheap.
To be honest, I thought I was going to be looking for the most firmer of style chisels, so thanks for clearing that up for me.

User avatar
By Pete Maddex
Aren't you worried about welding affecting the heat treatment of the blade? You will have to normalise the whole thing and then harden and temper it.
O1 is cheap and easily heat treated.

500x25x3mm O1 £14.99 and free postage on Ebay. ... e7uGA57nUg

By D_W
Ttrees wrote:Thanks Pete
I still may try to weld a chisel though, as I'm doing things on the cheap.
To be honest, I thought I was going to be looking for the most firmer of style chisels, so thanks for clearing that up for me.


Find an old blade that's about what you want or buy O1 stock and use it. It'll be cheaper than a good chisel when all is said and done, and much more predictable (plus, it won't be tapered in the wrong direction like a lot of chisels are). A shoulder plane should have about $5 worth of O1 steel in the iron, and the blade will be small enough to heat treat with anything (and you can use used motor oil as the quench if you're really tight - just be aware that your oven will smell like used motor oil if you temper it in an oven. You can temper over a flame, but it's not quite as reliable when you're starting out).
User avatar
By Ttrees
I dont have the knowledge, nor the money to easily make up a heat treating setup I don't think.
And I dont have an oven either :(
Must get that fixed, as I have some HDPE to melt ...
On a more sensible note

I take it from what you are saying, that the iron needs to be parallel in thickness or thicker at the buisness end
This makes an interesting topic, as a recent shoulder plane thread I read, someone has made a shoulder plane in the
style I want to try, but using a screw instead of a wedge, a screw activated wedge if you will, because he didn't like the
amount of whacking needed to release the wedge
I wonder if having a taper will affect the holding power of the wedge?.

I'm sure some folks notice this, like the molding plane guys who collect the same makers.

At the moment I'm more concerned on the design and making a start on the dovetails, since I have a chance to
do some metalwork.
I have no immediate use for this tool, but its on the tool list of things to make
along with a router plane, possibly shooting plane, and some miniture planes maybe also.

Looking at a Rob Cosman video, he uses a Lie-nielsen skew block plane with fence to mark out dovetails
It creates a ledge the thickness of the pin board so it sits flush for a more solid registration when marking out.
This looks like another project for fun.

Thanks for your input guys
User avatar
By Pete Maddex
A screw to hold the wedge like this

ImageTriming feathers by Pete Maddex, on Flickr

It works well but you need to put a point on the screw and a hole for it to locate in, or as you adjust the blade the wedge moves.

If you make a blade I will harden and temper it for you.

By D_W
Adjustment of any plane with a wedge and iron is easier if the iron is tapered. If it's not, then you need to be able to strike the wedge sometimes to get the iron and wedge loose, plus the wedge has to be very tight to keep the iron from retracting during a cut.

As mentioned, a screw or cap should be used for any parallel irons if you have a choice, but you can get away with a parallel iron on a shoulder plane because you're not going to be doing a whole bunch of taking it apart and putting it back together. Any heavy work should precede use of it.
User avatar
By AndyT
You can get a top quality Ashley Iles shoulder plane iron for as little as £11.50 + post from here ... s-15-c.asp

I suggest you get an iron of suitable size before you start cutting up any steel for the body, then you can make a plane to suit it.