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By arnoldmason8
I am planning to make an infill panel plane probably 15” long. I have just bought a parallel double iron ( 2 ½” wide ) and I will be using a brass lever cap from a scrap plane. One detail I do not know is what clearance should be allowed between the width of the blade and the inside width of the body. My feeling is it should be about 1/8” or a bit less. There is no mention of this in Jim Kingshott’s book and I have searched the internet without success. Any info will be much appreciated.

Regards Arnold
By D_W
1/16th is good (that's a 16th total, and not per side. It's plenty of room if your plane is reasonably square, and it looks tidy. More than that, and things look a bit loose.

How wide is your lever cap?
By Steve Elliott
It's been my experience that gaps between the corners of the blade and the sides of the mouth can get shavings caught in them so I prefer almost no gap. Adjusting for a slightly out-of-square blade can still be done if the blade bed is wider at the tops of the sides than at the mouth.

I've owned a number of infills by the well-known makers (Spiers, Mathieson) and they have all had blade beds that are narrower at the mouth. I've also owned craftsman-made infills and they often are narrower at the top, so that gaps at the mouth are unavoidable. I consider this a flaw. I think the process of peening the dovetails tends to make the sides get closer towards the top, but using a peening block that is wider at the top could help avoid this.

My planes have no adjusters so I use hammer taps. This is easier and more accurate if the blade pivots right at the mouth instead of higher up.
By D_W
Agree on the mouth - a few extra thousandths - laterally - down at the mouth level is enough (usually finish filed after the plane is mostly finished due to movement while peining). More than that is sloppy work that indicates immediately that the plane was made by a beginner. If a user has trouble getting the iron through the mouth without banging the corners on the side of the mouth, then a little bit of file or scraping work can be done at the top of the mouth to funnel the iron a little bit. Those corners won't be in a finish cut, anyway.

I made the comment about "reasonably square", because 1/16th of width further up represents plenty of room even for a blade or cap iron that's fairly significantly out of square (or a side that is - if both occur, there might be a problem).

If it's not enough room (cap iron way out of square, unexpected lack of squareness for the sides , rather than making the whole plane wider, I like to take the iron and cap iron combination to the grinder and taper its width along its length as Steve is describing. )

There are a million other little problems that are hopefully unnecessary (lever cap that's narrower than the blade, or a lot wider (neither is terminal, but both are ugly), getting enough pressure on a tight infill for it to force its squareness to the sides evenly (to counter the fact that the top pinches inward when the dovetails are peened). I prefer to try to make the peining blank exactly the size of the infill so that there is minimal metal movement when the final infills are fitted. If there is much movement, the final surfacing of the plane will be more than just minimal work, which can lead to finding hidden voids, etc.
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By AndyT
Some of the Norris planes have extra little nibs on the castings down near the mouth, either side of the iron, presumably to get just that sort of pivoting action.
By arnoldmason8
Thanks for all your replies
The plane iron arrived today and it measures 2.480" wide. The leaver cap is 2.530" wide. These will give me more or less the clearance you have suggested. It all depends on me being able to pein the dovetails so the body comes out square. Is it better to use a block slightly flared to take account of the sides closing in or should the block be square? Jim Kingsott seems to suggest that the rivet spacers will hold the sides square. but I haven't seen that advocated elsewhere.
I am hopefully going to make a start tomorrow so will let you know how I get on.

Thanks again Arnold
By D_W
That's an ideal lever cap size for the iron. It should allow you to have a lever cap that pretty much fits from side to side inside the plane (which gives the nicest look).

I'm not sure what rivet spacers are. I've had the best luck with keeping the dovetails super tight (which means you can make them disappear in steel on steel planes) with peining blocks that are dead square and the same size as the space between the tails on the bottom. Not saying that a flare of some amount won't work as well better, just what I've done. All of my sides have pinched closed after removing the peining block - as Steve describes, though - but I'm not sure that they've all closed the same amount. I think it would vary based on the circumstances (bottom vs. side thickness, size of the secondary angles, etc, material used).
By Bedrock
Rivet spacers. If you have a look back through Karl Holtey's web site postings, or indeed any of the profile magazine articles on him, he uses brass or steel rods or tubes, to the same dimension of the sole width, as spacers, through the infill material, screwed/riveted from each side.
The hole through the infill is a clearance fit, such that the wood can move, without affecting the squareness of the sides.

I suspect the method goes back a long time.
By D_W
I'd be curious if it does go back. I've had pretty good luck over the last 8 years with just rods, as long as the wood is dry.

I do recall seeing him talking about lining the planes, but he is unwilling to tolerate that which is true with all old infills, that they will move a bit and need some tuning from time to time. It seems a lot of the makers have an issue with accepting that. The users should be skilled enough to adjust the sole if there is a problem (likely there never will be) or fit the iron, etc, but I guess that's not the reality of the current buyers.

And so, and due to the fact that good dry exotic wood is REALLY hard to find in a decent sawn orientation, Karl and others have gone to all metal planes with metal beds and wooden handles.

Like this: ... lavor.html

And then a plane like that ends up being 3 grand, and it's lost the charm of the metal infill - riveted instead of dovetails, and there is some wood there, but I look at it and just don't know what it is. The humanity of those planes in the first place is the fact that they move a little bit and they've got all of that wood in them, and it's a bedding surface, and the dovetails required someone to work them by hand.

(function is totally aside, I'm sure all of them function well, but even a dope like me can get the bottom flat on a dovetailed plane and make it function just as well as any of these...well, and carefully file the mouth, and take care with the bed/lever cap fit so that the plane adjusts properly).
By Bedrock
I suspect that starting a dialogue as to what constitutes a definition of an infill, could be entertaining.
You could start by positing that for any "true" infill, the blade is bedded on timber. Anything with a metal bed is not?

As an aside, for those infills I have acquired or made, setting the blade depth level with the sole, a last 1/8" of a turn, or less, on the lever cap screw produces the thinnest projection for the finish cut. Is the movement in the wooden bed or the blade? Given the surface area of the bed, usually a well seasoned dense hardwood, that seems unlikely. I not sure it matters, unless it causes damage.

As to the history of rivet spacers, when I get home, I'll look up the original publishing date for Jim Kingshott's book. That must be at least 25 years old.
The last dovetail infill jointer I bought, is, I suspect, craftsman made, albeit to quite a high standard, but the sides are well out of square. Whether due to shrinkage in the infill or poor construction, I can't tell. What did Norris do?
By D_W
That's how I always set smoothers. And if they take too deep of a cut, I open the lever cap tension (lighten it, I guess) just a little while taking a shaving and the iron goes up the bed just a tiny bit.

They all have different personality with that, but I think it could be either of the following things:
* the iron itself is down a fraction of a thousandth when the tension is added (straight down against the bed or pushed down toward the wood by angle
* the screw does something to push out any bend further up, which causes the iron to project perhaps both ways (maybe the top goes up a little, too, we'd never notice)
* the lever cap screw moves the iron (it seems like this wouldn't happen all the time the same way on every plane - I have noticed that some will change lateral set a little as the lever cap screw turns tight, always the same way)

Or, it could be just about anything else!

I bought about 10 infills several months ago so that I could look at them all at the same time and see what I want to build. They all have a different personality with this issue of gathering extra depth. the norris planes were the worst (later beech ones with adjusters, every single one of them). I set them with minimal tension with the adjuster just shallow of where I'd want the cut to be and then used the lever cap tension as a micro adjust for depth. Worked pretty well, and I could've gotten used to it, but no thanks.

I only kept one norris with an adjuster, a late panel plane that I overpaid for, but it does work quite nice, so I'll live with it until I can reconcile losing a couple of hundred when reselling it. As little as I liked the A5s with the adjuster, I've gotten quite used to the A1 with it. whether or not that's because the cut is usually deeper, or time invested, who knows.

Anyway, of the rest of the planes, the one with the most sensitive adjustment (despite no adjuster) is a ward ironed coffin shape spiers. It'll gain quite a bit of depth when tightening the lever cap. Some of the others none or almost none at all (like a norris 2).
By rxh
Bedrock wrote:Rivet spacers. If you have a look back through Karl Holtey's web site postings, or indeed any of the profile magazine articles on him, he uses brass or steel rods or tubes, to the same dimension of the sole width, as spacers, through the infill material, screwed/riveted from each side.
The hole through the infill is a clearance fit, such that the wood can move, without affecting the squareness of the sides.

I suspect the method goes back a long time.

I use "jacking screws" to stop the sides leaning in during construction and I fit spacer tubes in the infills. The use of spacer tubes is described in Jim Kingshott's book: Making & Modifying Woodworking Tools.
By Bedrock
Jim Kingshott's book was first published in 1992, and he refers to Spiers planes as his initial inspiration. He refers to using spacers in a matter-of- fact way, not as if it was a new technique. Has anyone here disembowelled an old Spiers or Norris that was in poor condition? Given that peening dovetails does seem to cause the sides to pinch, it seems a logical thing to do.

In regard to the lever screw adjustment, do you find that the blade projection is cambered when tightened, or that the whole blade shifts? The former would suggest that infill beds are regularly very slightly concave, which I find hard to believe. I think that Holtey's reasoning for moving to blade supports of cross bars or a complete metal bed, was that, for the tolerances he works to, there is always some movement in a wooden infill bed.

Whatever the reason, it works for me.
By D_W
Do the spacers come out after peining and before the infill goes in? If so, does the whole thing pinch shut, anyway?

In peining four planes so far, I've always had the pinch (no spacers, but never an issue with getting the tails to disappear again after a quick surface treatment post-infill fitting (quick draw filing, etc).

I haven't had the fortune to take a bunch of these (older) planes apart, though - if they were a little cheaper to buy basket cases, I'd buy and replace wood, but the sellers still want too much money for anything that has decent metal parts.
By Bedrock
As I understand Jim Kingshott's description, and as I have used, the tubes remain in place, holding the infill in place, but, as above, the infill is drilled for clearance, so that the wood can move without stressing the sides.

I am pretty sure that Karl Holtey does this.

My latest infill acquisition is obviously canted in at the rear infill, but whether this is due to shrinkage of the infill or the peening, I haven't given much thought to, just never use it for shooting (obviously!). It is not clear whether there are rivets for cross spacers.