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Axminster Rider No 7... concave sole, customer service pants as usual

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PaulArthur

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Hi everyone

I've got a No 7 from Axminster, and I've been using over the last 18 months to flatten large slabs and boards, but I haven't needed it to joint anything. I've been working on some toy boxes for my kids over the last few weeks and I've had to make some panels up and I've noticed that I just cannot get the blooming thing to joint anything properly. There's a noticeable hump in the middle of any boards I try to joint, and that means that over an 80cm board, I've got a 1.5mm gap at one end when I close up the other.

I've had a look at the sole against the straight edges I've got (none of them are certified straight, but they all agree) that the sole is concave. I expect this a little bit, but I don't know how far away from flat is acceptable... Anyway, Axminster aren't interested in helping me, because it's out of their 1 year warranty (despite me pointing out that the sole won't have changed shape in that time, so it must have been like this when I bought it, and they are bound by the consumer rights act to provide a product that can do what it's designed to do). Their customer service really is pants these days. I've spend thousands with them over the last couple of years, but they're losing my loyalty these days.

Anyway, my question really is how on earth can I flatten something this size, without it completely killing the bank balance? I know I can buy lapping plates are so on that would work with smaller planes, but given that the no 7 is so big, is there something that you can recommend?

Many thanks...
 

PaulArthur

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Half thinking it would be cheaper just to buy a better quality jointer plane and hope that it's flatter!
 

pe2dave

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Given time and patience...
Find something flat (thick glass, a 'scrap' plain tile (tilers often have scrap bins).
Buy lots of sheets of emery cloth (whatever you call it). Mostly rough stuff to reduce the tedium.
A can of oil (or water) and you can keep busy for a while.
Find the way you are happy testing for flat (worth buying a new 12" steel rule?) and do so, regularly (OK, that was the bit I forgot)
It does work, even to take 2mm off a #7.

Then check the sides for 90... if you ever intend to use it like that.
 

PaulArthur

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Given time and patience...
Find something flat (thick glass, a 'scrap' plain tile (tilers often have scrap bins).
Buy lots of sheets of emery cloth (whatever you call it). Mostly rough stuff to reduce the tedium.
A can of oil (or water) and you can keep busy for a while.
Find the way you are happy testing for flat (worth buying a new 12" steel rule?) and do so, regularly (OK, that was the bit I forgot)
It does work, even to take 2mm off a #7.

Then check the sides for 90... if you ever intend to use it like that.
Problem is that if I'm right, I need something longer than the plane to flatten it on... The plane is 560mm long... so finding something that's reliably flat, and that size, that isn't expensive, seems problematic.
 

pe2dave

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Go down to a tile shop and have a look? Some huge tiles around?
Or a glazier and see if they can help - but needs to be toughened (safety) - Only need to be 200mm wide?
Or use a shorter piece and find a pattern that covers it all.

££ - your abrasives are getting expensive - unless you tape down 2 or 3 sheets (double sided tape) together.


E.g. Bathroom Tiles | Wall & Floor Tiles From £9.97/m² | Victorian Plumbing 914x152? End of line and I'm sure you'd get a good deal.
 
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--Tom--

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Trying to lap the sole by rubbing it back and forth on abrasive isn’t the way I’d go. If it was bad enough that it needed it just work on the toe and the heel separately checking often with a straight edge.

Also, and this may not be the case here, but when jointing boards it’s really easy to plane them into a hump.
Custard’s thread on edge jointing is worth a read and a try first.
 

NickM

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Also, and this may not be the case here, but when jointing boards it’s really easy to plane them into a hump.
Custard’s thread on edge jointing is worth a read and a try first.
I agree with this. No matter how flat the plane is, it’s certainly possible to plane an edge concave. Custard’s thread is excellent.
 

MusicMan

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Tip 1: If you have three straight edges and they all agree. ie fit together with no gaps (1 to 2), (1 to 3) and (3 to 1) then they are all straight. You don't need any other reference, in fact this is the most accurate way of all.

Tip 2: If you build yourself a long shooting board (which can just be a thin board on a bench with a planing stop) with a straight edge, you don't need a flat sole, as the sole doesn't enter into it except for a narrow bit at the bottom, which runs along the edge. You can allow for the hump by pushing the back of the plane against the edge. Make sure the plane blade edge is straight and square to the bench. You can then joint.

Tip 3: If the sole is way out, start with a file.
 

AESamuel

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How far out is the plane sole? Granted I have found rider planes to need some flattening but unless it's really far out then it could actually just be technique that is the issue.
Jointing with a and plane will generally result in a belly so you have to take extra passes just in the middle to bring it down.
Another method is to "undercut" the middle and then take one or two full length passes.

David Charlesworth has an excellent video on the "undercutting" method on youtube here:
 

D_W

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for inexpensive, you need a reasonably flat surface (which is something you may need to plane and check with a straight edge) and then a float glass plate of length and relatively narrow width to place on top. The underlying surface needs to be flat as the glass will flex easily. I'd avoid things like tiles, flooring stone, etc, as that is usually surface finished, but the surfacer may not be that flat. It could be (and if it tests out well against a reliable straight edge, then no problem, but I'd check that before running home with anything).

Where do you get the glass? Call specialty glass shops and ask if they stock glass shelves for cabinets, and ask for something around 8x42. Do not order custom glass. The cost for a stock shelf of that size here was $20 and at 10mm thick. The cost for a custom cut glass run of that size 1/2 inch thick was well over $100.

That becomes your reference lap - you know it's flat if you have a good straight edge, have a flat surface to lay it on and you can press down any part of the glass and still not get a feeler under the straight edge.

your other option is just to use the straight edge (and that's probably fine if you're only doing this once. Check left, middle and right and then diagonals. mark high spots, and either file them off or create a 2x3 inch block of hardwood and put PSA 60-80 grit paper on. It's not that easy to lap a 7 if the concavity is any appreciable amount, but you can clean up the sole of the plane when you're done by lapping the whole thing at once (it'll look nicer and confirm that you have overall flatness.

Your cost for PSA roll and glass should be about 30-40 pounds in your money. 4 inch x 10 yard roll is a nice size to have for planes. one roll should be enough to do every plane you have if you find the results favorable, and it's handy to have around for clean up of old tools and removal of pitting on older irons.

you can use a marker or marking fluid to mark the sole to see where steel is contacting on your flat glass lap, and then use the file or small block to work the areas where the marking fluid has rubbed off, then remark and check.

The small block is necessary (i think filing is a bit more unrealistic for someone new) for any speed of removal as paper dulls fairly quickly and it limits the number of points of contact (Focusing more pressure on each) and allows the dulling paper to work far better. IT seems counterintuitive, but a 2x3 block will remove material from a jointer about 5x as fast as a large lap. not in each section, but in total -with a small contact area, the cast just sands right off. With a large contact area, it mostly skids on the paper.

In terms of flatness, what's annoying on a jointer or jack plane? very small amounts of concavity make edge jointing a pain - as little as a few thousandths. The effect is doubled on boards and you have to bear down on the plane (which makes no sense anywhere except the middle of a cut - you can't push the concavity out of the plane on the two ends of the board - one end always goes unsupported).

In the opposite direction? an error of 4 or 5 times as much isn't intolerable - spec is often given by thousandths for a plane, but what the manufacturers should really do is grind a bias and guarantee 0 to 3 or 4 thousandths convex rather than +/- a certain amount. I realize this is problematic for surface grinding.

I purchased a LN 62 to do testing and write an article a couple of months ago. It was almost intolerable to smooth flat wood as it was out exactly at spec concave (1.5 thousandths) to my starrett edge and feelers. The first several passes for everything was just to clip the ends off of the wood before finally being able to smooth. I flattened it and now it works well. Their production was fairly accurate, but because of the direction of the error, it was still a pain. I make planes, so in my case, it was just easier to fix the plane than request LN send me a plane that wasn't right at spec. I've had about 10 planes from them and two were like this - right at spec concave - both were a pain to use (the other was a #8) for accurate work. It's reality despite calls from the not-very-accomplished that there's no way that it could make much of a difference.

I'm not surprised that axminster wouldn't do anything - I don't know them from adam, but most manufacturers and retailers have to have some kind of guideline to go by or they'll be replacing 10 year old planes owned by the third owner. LN and LV would probably entertain that, but it's part of their reputation. Axminster may have some recourse to the distributor based on their terms, but have to eat the entire cost of the return if you try to return it after the window has closed.
 

Jameshow

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Being such a long plane would putting too much weight on the tote and knob be flexing the plane and when the plane reaches the end of the board it's taking more off the board.

Just a thought.

Cheers James
 

D_W

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How far out is the plane sole? Granted I have found rider planes to need some flattening but unless it's really far out then it could actually just be technique that is the issue.
Jointing with a and plane will generally result in a belly so you have to take extra passes just in the middle to bring it down.
Another method is to "undercut" the middle and then take one or two full length passes.

David Charlesworth has an excellent video on the "undercutting" method on youtube here:
That's generally regarded as common consequence of planing, but it's something to learn to avoid. If the cap is set on a plane and pressure biased at start and finished, the result should be a board that's worked slightly hollow with *through* strokes rather than the ends being planed off. If a concave plane is suffered through to get stop shavings and then planes the ends down when finishing with a through shaving, then it's a problem.
 

Phil Pascoe

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Then check the sides for 90... if you ever intend to use it like that.
Nothing like making work! If using a shooting board just compensate with the lateral lever - you need to check the squareness of the actual cut after replacing an iron after honing, even if using a dead square plane.
 

D_W

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Being such a long plane would putting too much weight on the tote and knob be flexing the plane and when the plane reaches the end of the board it's taking more off the board.

Just a thought.

Cheers James
tearout, etc, can cause the ends to be planed off (when planing proceeds with tearout, it's never even in terms of thickness removed), but the check is what the OP mentioned second - the plane is either straight to straight edges or not. Two things are OK -straight and convex. Two are a nuisance - concavity and twist.

Twist is checked on the diagonals, of course, and should be fairly uncommon on modern planes (half the time in older metal planes, it's just due to wear.

Whatever shape the plane is out vs. a straight edge, even if you can pretty easily flex the amount out of it, the influence will still be there in the cut.
 

Woody2Shoes

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I also think that technique is the most important aspect here, and I second (third?) the suggestion to refer to Custard's posts on the subject. Believe it or not, it is possible to get 'perfect' results with an 'imperfect' tool. I think that there is a British Standard for flatness of plane soles - I think that the Workshop Heaven website/blog gives references. You need feeler gauges and a straight edge - does your plane meet BS whatever?
 

Ttrees

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I think the headline is a bit harsh, it might not have been if you happened to buy a certified straight edge and feelers from them, and they weren't interested.

If you do decide to flatten or even check it, then Musicman's suggestion on making straight edges make sense, and is the start of a reference as David W has said.
However toughened glass can be out also, as it is float glass that is the flattest,
so back to checking for a suitable plate with the straight edges.
A typical rule will be miles out.

A quick tip to asses the situation very quickly is having a flat surface to start with...
and pivoting the plane from one end like so
Where does the plane have contact?

If you want to do some further checking on the cheap,
then the three reference surfaces the length of the item, and no shorter can be used to check for overall flatness with feelers, and if you have a good wee square and a precise block of some sort, or another good square then butting them against each other and pushing them along the length will give a good impression to check for consistency.
(the tops of the squares may open up and show some light between)

And if you wish to lap a concave error along the length.... a theoretical scenario worth mentioning for clarity...
with no twist, and flat along its width (so a flat ground iron will have the same projection everywhere)
Then it is worth mentioning that if its lapped on a longer and wider area than the plane is, that the abrasion will favour the edges, so may not be that much work to do.
If its out by a good bit, then you might end up making your plane convex by the time you sort out a lengthwise concavity.
Keep going to try and lap out that widthwise error and now you have a badly convex error along the length of the plane.

I would only ever lap a plane in the usual fashion that you might have seen (with the longer and wider abrasive than the plane is)
If it was convex both along the length and width, with a bad error and not just with only a few rubs needed to fair out the concavity.

If its not, and only convex along the length, I would make sure to have a narrower abrasive than the width of the plane, but exactly as long or longer than the plane to focus on the ends, with constant skewing to remove the four corners of the plane, simulating the effects of an hourglass patterned strip (for want of a better description)

You can cover the plane in marker and do three rubs on the plate with full sheet of abrasive to check if the marker is gone everywhere.
That is the only time you can trust the ink.

As I said lapping will favour the edges, and can be misleading if you are lapping on a full size length to remove ink, before you know it you could have removed that concavity and have a convex plane, which cannot be lapped out with that large of a lap, as it will pivot from the middle and it will end up like a banana.

All the best
Tom
 

D_W

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The float glass question is a good point - you can order tempered float glass from suppliers here. I know little about glass, so I don't know if that's terminology that doesn't match technical reality.

When I got a cabinet shelf (non-tempered, I guess on the assumption that it shouldn't be in a position to be at risk of breaking and causing injury), I asked the local glass shop if it was float glass and he pretty much said "it is. nearly everything is now". But, it's worth asking.

I have a deliberately planed very flat area on my bench, but it's unlikely to be a thousandth over its span. It's close, though. My acid test is to get out a straight edge, lean on the glass and then see if I can get a feeler under any area (my thinnest is .0012". The edge that I have is a 24" starrett, so that's only under partial length of the glass, but it's as long as most planes are likely to be.

I've found that literally a single particle of 60 grit paper (I haven't had this issue since switching to 80 grit) will not get pushed far enough into ash to not throw off the test. That is, if a single 60 grit particle off of the sandpaper is under the glass on one end or another, the glass will flex and the feeler will get through. I find that annoying.

It's a reasonable test to show how important it is for the surface under the lap to be both flat and cleaned at the same time.

I guess the starrett isn't cheap (they were $60 at the time here new, now about $85), but the glass was very cheap. A machinist would make fun of the setup, but it's practical more accurate than any boutique planemaker's standard.
 
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