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Boxing - how was it made?

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Philipp

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Many old moulding planes have boxwood inlays in certain areas of the plane that are exposed to high wear. Sometimes the profile of this boxwood inlay is quite complicated like here for example:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Antique-Mould ... 2321c42ae1

Has anybody an idea about how it was made? Has one of you ever come across a special tool made for the female part of the boxing ?

Sometimes I have the impression that a complex boxing perhaps was not necessary on a plane but was rather created in order to show the skill of its maker.

Regards, Philipp
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Sometimes I have the impression that a complex boxing perhaps was not necessary on a plane but was rather created in order to show the skill of its maker.
Hi Philipp

All I know is that the boxing I added to the fence in my recent plough build was done for show since the wood it replaced was harder than the wood of the boxing! :lol: Both were tough woods, however.

How is it done? Probably by hand tools.

This ..



... came from this ...



... and was fitted by ploughing out the waste ..



It finished as ...





Link: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ShopMadeTo ... Build.html

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

custard

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It absolutely has to be with a power router...this proves power routers were actually invented in the early 18th century, but archaeologists have yet to turn up "Ye Olde Festoole" which will clinch the argument.
 

AndyT

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As BB says, there is a good description in Salaman's Dictionary, which is a wonderful book, and essential for anyone with an interest in hand tools in woodworking. But for anyone whose copy has not yet arrived, have a look at this article.

It comes from "Work" magazine, in 1898, and was written by WJ Armour who worked as a planemaker - planes made by him turn up from time to time. He describes how the sort of long sliding dovetail joints were made, and unsurprisingly, the joints were made by using planes. These were very specialised planes, and are not common, but some have survived.

The material used (in the English tradition) was almost always boxwood with the grain cut on the slant for maximum wear resistance. The level of skill to make a double dovetail boxed plane like BB's moving fillister quickly enough for it to be a commercial offering was, in my opinion, really very impressive.
 

bugbear

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AndyT":27rvj2zy said:
As BB says, there is a good description in Salaman's Dictionary, which is a wonderful book, and essential for anyone with an interest in hand tools in woodworking. But for anyone whose copy has not yet arrived, have a look at this article.
Very nice - thanks for that link.

BugBear
 

Cheshirechappie

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Can't add to AndyT's post about how plane boxing was made, but just a thought as to why - 19th century workshops were sometimes not as snug and warm as some modern ones, so damp would have been an ever-present problem. The glues of that era were not as good as modern ones in damp conditions, so any joint relying on glue alone would be vulnerable to damp conditions. The mechanical element of dovetail jointing between boxing and plane stock would give an insurance against plane disintigration due to glue failure, especially on the more complex (and hence expensive) planes. It's not unusual to find planes of simpler profile (side beads, for example) in which the boxing is let into a groove with no dovetails, has loose boxing or boxing slips missing - the result of glue failure.
 

Philipp

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Thanks, guys, for your comments. One question remains: wouldn't some nails or screws have worked as well to overcome the difficulties connected to (animal) glue and damp conditions in those times? Why did planemakers choose such a complicated way to mount the boxing :? ?

Regards, Philipp
 

AndyT

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There are so many reasons why screws or nails would be worse.

If you cut a strip of boxing, at an angle to the grain, (as you do for maximum strength boxing) you end up with something which is strong where it matters, but could easily snap. If you tried to hold it in place with screws or nails they would only hold the area immediately adjacent ,not the whole thing.

In addition, the screws or nails would have to be too tiny to be effective.

Also, any metal part would be in danger of being exposed by wear and then damaging the work.

And it would look dreadful!

If you read the Armour article, it's clear that such work is only undertaken by the most skilled operators, who would have taken pride in doing a good job. The continued survival of thousands of planes in good working order after 200 years or more is evidence that they chose the best method.
 

jimi43

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As someone who has re-boxed a plane recently,.....HERE...I have nothing but the highest admiration for these old masters....even this simple repair was "challenging" to say the least!!!

No glue though! 8)

Jim
 

Cheshirechappie

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Screws and nails are very good at holding things together, but not necessarily very good at accurately locating two components relative to one another (as stock and boxing must be - any movement between the two may affect the bedding of the iron, and keeping that true is crucial to good performance from the plane). A dovetail joint is very good at accurately locating two components relative to one another, and pretty good at holding them together permanently, especially with a bit of help from glue.

I suppose using nails or screws in this application would be a bit like hanging an Old Master painting by banging a couple of nails through the frame into the wall. It would hold the picture up, but somehow it just wouldn't look 'right'.

That said, screws were used to hold the slips in slipped and boxed side bead planes. However, in that case, the slips are meant to be removable. Boxing is almost always meant to be permanent, so a 'permanent' joining method is appropriate.
 

condeesteso

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I agree mightily impressive - that box insert is made with hand tools, it won't rely on 'adhesives', and it fits to interference/perfect all along.
Odd we can all find this level of workmanship on ebay for 'not a lot'... yet so few can replicate it. (Same with many antiques too, not a unique woodie conundrum.)
 

Pekka Huhta

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jimi43":jys7haf0 said:
As someone who has re-boxed a plane recently,.....HERE...I have nothing but the highest admiration for these old masters....even this simple repair was "challenging" to say the least!!!
I made a similar repair a few years ago. Pretty much the same idea, except I had a bit different approach to making the scraper blade.

http://www.sihistin.fi/en/woodwork/reedingplane.html

I'm too lazy to try to freehand file the profile, this way it was easy peas.

I think the dovetailed boxing has been more or less a luxury issue: An ornamental fillister plane has been a mark of a true craftsman, as has been explained for example in Hack's classic tool books. That's why we have all the ebony & ivory fillisters, ornate cast Miler's patents etc. Having the boxing dovetailed in with a very complex joint is just another way of showing that you have a bigger tool than the chippy next door :wink:

Pekka
 

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