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richarnold

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Great news folks, hand tools are still alive and kicking in this modern age. I have just been asked if i could make some handrail wreaths for someone. I thought in this modern age of woodworking anything was possible with a computer, and one of those CNC thingys, but apparently not. It appears that they cannot cope with the accute turns in this staircase, so it's back to good old fashioned hand methods. A couple of years ago, I was offered some tools out of an old joiners tool chest. there wasn't much to interest me, but i did spot six little planes lurking in a drawer in the bottom of the chest, and decided to buy them. I'm sure they are not commercial made planes, but are proberbly craftsman made, having said that they are beautifuly done. I never actually thought I would get to use them much, but I have to say they have been really useful while making the wreaths. One thing that still puzzles me is what they are made of. I have shown them to loads of folks, but knowone seems quite sure what the timber is. my only guess is laburnum, anyone else got any ideas? The growth rings are very wide, and it almost looks as though they were made from branch wood, There is also a noticable difference between the sap and heart wood.








 

custard

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The return on that handrail looks unbelievably difficult to make. I'm dumbstruck by the skill needed to craft such a piece with handtools. Congratulations!

By the way, the flecks on the quartered side of some of those planes sure resembles the common or garden beech that you'd expect such tools to be made from. I'm sure you've already discounted this, but I guess you can get fast grown beech just as much as other species, and possibly the small scale of the tools makes the growth rings appear larger than they are? Just a thought.
 

jimi43

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That's glorious Richard....wonderful piece of work indeed...

Please tell me they aren't going to paint it!!! Please! 8)

If you could bring the planes to MAC Timbers...I would love to see them at the weekend.

Cheers

Jimi
 

richarnold

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Hi Jim. I will bring the planes to the open day, and at this rate i might even be using them on some more wreaths as a demo exercise!!. As per usual the customer needs them ASAP. Thankfully they are not being painted, but stained to a dark oak colour.
 

Teckel

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Lovely job Richard. I've done good few wreaths by hand myself in the past and it's a great satisfaction.
Well done that's a beautiful job.
 

arnoldmason8

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A very skilled bit of work there Richard. The planes are almost certainly coach builders planes for shaping rabbits for curved doors in coach making and also for coach building of cars. My interest in old woodworking tools stems from my next door neighbor when I was growing up in the fifties. He was a retired coachbuilder who was apprenticed to the trade in the 1890's but transferred to building coach built cars at Coventry and retired before 2nd WW. He had dozens of wooden planes similar to those and I used to love to watch him using them.

Cheers Arnold
 

AndyT

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jimi43":30oqrf2i said:
That's glorious Richard....wonderful piece of work indeed...

Please tell me they aren't going to paint it!!! Please! 8)

If you could bring the planes to MAC Timbers...I would love to see them at the weekend.

Cheers

Jimi
Jim took the words out of my mouth!

I've skimmed through some of the old books on handrailing now available on line, enough to realise that the geometry is NOT simple - but they were all strangely vague about how to actually shape the timber! Lovely to see it for real, and I too look forward to seeing some of this for real.
 

Cheshirechappie

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...and another seriously impressed by the work on the wreath. I've seen a few fine staircases, and always pause a moment or two to give the handrailing a bit of a look over. I reckon the craftsmen of old deserve to have their work appreciated now and again - and so do the craftmen of today.

Interesting point on the planes; much is always made in the literature about how moulding (and bench) planes should always be of quartersawn stock for stability. Well - the two planes shown in Richard's second photograph are most definitely not from quartered stock, but they look to serving pretty well even after a good few years of life. Maybe it's more important to use dry, stable, mild stock.

By the way, I haven't a clue what the timber is, either....
 

richarnold

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Thanks for all the kind comments chaps. by the way Andy, totaly agree with you about the books, lots of mind blowing geometrical theory, but not much on what to do at the bench. I remember doing weeks of work at college doing drawings for a wreath, and then just one afternoon in the workshop making it!!. At the time I said to myself, if I ever have to do another one of these, I'm just going to get a block of wood, carve the bloody thing, and sod the drawings. Guess what, 30 yr's later and that's exactly what i'm doing. Something tells me that a lot of those old boys years ago possibly took the same approach!!!
 

Teckel

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richarnold":jlo59yau said:
Thanks for all the kind comments chaps. by the way Andy, totaly agree with you about the books, lots of mind blowing geometrical theory, but not much on what to do at the bench. I remember doing weeks of work at college doing drawings for a wreath, and then just one afternoon in the workshop making it!!. At the time I said to myself, if I ever have to do another one of these, I'm just going to get a block of wood, carve the bloody thing, and sod the drawings. Guess what, 30 yr's later and that's exactly what i'm doing. Something tells me that a lot of those old boys years ago possibly took the same approach!!!
It's nice to know how to draw it out Richard. I find it satisfying to see it on paper.
 

bugbear

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arnoldmason8":2v6lk8t0 said:
A very skilled bit of work there Richard. The planes are almost certainly coach builders planes for shaping rabbits for curved doors in coach making and also for coach building of cars.
Agreed. They may be used for other things (and may almost any simple tool), but that was their purpose.

BugBear
 

richarnold

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Hi, Although these planes resemble coach makers planes, i'm not convinced that they are. I put the 10p in the photo to give some sort of scale. The plane soles are only about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, and the coach makers planes i have seen are much bigger than this. I think they fall in to the category of the general term, thumb planes. Wether they were made specifically for handrails, or just for the production of general curved mouldings, I'm not certain. The chap I bought them off said his grandfather who made the planes was a joiner, and cabinet maker, but not as far as i know a coach maker
 

sdbranam

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Gorgeous! Would you be willing to post some process photos? I'd love to see how the mouldings are built up, and how you negotiate those curves.

By the way, a couple of your photo links are broken, but I was able to see them all by looking you up on Photobucket.
 

Richard T

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My best guess for that wood is Mock Acacia. Although when first cut it is very pale with a greenish tinge, I've no idea how it would age what with being handled and all ... it might have been stained too of course .... but the grain sure does look like it - that laminated cloth, knitted look.
 

dickm

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Was trying to recall what that grain said to me, and you've spoken for it :) - Pseudacacia (Robinia) almost certainly. Used some to match a true acacia kitchen in our last house, and as Richard say, it starts off a quite bright yellow. But exposed to air for even a relatively short time, it goes a superbly rich chocolate brown colour on the surface. Unless the clients insist on it being coloured immediately, it would be nice just left to age naturally.
 

richarnold

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I showed the planes to Mike Cawthorne at MAC timbers the other day, and mock accacia was one of his sugestions, so I think you chaps may well be right. I did have a lump of false accacia kicking about somewhere. I must dig it out and compare the grain. I wasn't aware it turns that lovely rich brown colour, makes me think I should ask Mike if he has some in his timber stacks. Maybe I could make some more planes out of it. I will take the camera to work tomorrow, and try and get some images of the handrail work at various stages.
 
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