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Spiers number 1...blinged

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richarddownunder

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IWW

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.......The jewellers saw just on the brass I take it. As it happens, I have a friend with a mill so I might approach him for a favour for the brass tails as I have a dovetail mill bit somewhere. Will still have to do the sole by hand though. .....
Richard, the brass will saw like butter, but I cut both brass and steel with the jewellers saw. However, as I said, only use premium blades on steel and try to get the coarsest cut you can (not always easy, jewellers suppliers carry lots of the finer blades but not many keep stock of the really coarse ones). The finest I would try is #5, which will get you there, but 7s or 8s make it far easier. I have, at a pinch, sawn out a 1/2" thick brass lever cap blank with #5 blades, but it took me twice as long as a #8 would've!

The worst material to saw is stainless steel, it takes the edges off hacksaw & jewellers saw blades at about 3 or 4 times the rate of mild steel. Gauge plate (& I'm talking fully annealed stuff, which is how most is supplied) is marginally harder on saw blades than mild steel, but barely noticable.

If you can't get the 260 brass, I wouldn't worry too much, the harder brass has the advantages of not getting marked & scratched as easily, and you don't get as deep a dimple if you mis-hit when peening. ;) If you are milling your pins & tails & getting a really nice fit, the 380 would actually be the better choice, imo. I usually recommend the softer brass for someone doing their first plane or two & preparing solely by hand, and then trying the 380 once they've got things under control a bit. You should have no problems, you've had a year or two on the tools, so I'm sure if you put in the effort to get a good fit it'll be easier than you think. Straight sides are pretty, well, straightforward, I reckon. :)

Cheers,
Ian
 

D_W

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I bought some 1/8th thick from Mike wenzloff years ago for plane sides. Mike said it's reasonable in 4x8 foot sheets, but not much else.

i have found it reasonable since only when it's sold as surplus on Ebay which means you have to buy it when you can find it and not necessarily when you want it.
 

IWW

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... I can get C26000 cartridge brass 5 mm thick (70% copper). Its pretty pricey though at ~$190 NZ (100 quid)! ...
What size piece? Sounds like you'll have enough for several planes...

Five mm thick will make pretty solid sides. I used 4mm for my 13 incher, which looked in proportion, but that's a hard thickness to find in smaller quantities. I believe Spiers et al used 3/16" steel for sides on their larger panel planes, so you'll be more 'authentic' with 5mm, which is only slightly more than 3/16", or p'raps they are calling it 5mm when it's actually 3/16?

You're inching toward the point of no return.... :)
Cheers,
 

D_W

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1/8th inch sides on the spiers, and 3/8" soles. At least on the old ones with rosewood. There is, of course, a sole plate probably peined at the bottom of the bed to increase the sole thickness where the iron beds, too.

Interestingly, in the middle of the cheeks, the steel is only about .1" thick. Not sure why that is.

That's for the panel planed pictured earlier in this thread (13 1/2 inches, 2 1/2 wide, weight 6lbs 13oz).

That doesn't give much material to remove if making by hand, but that should be an advantage as far as effort goes as the sides don't need to be perfectly square and most of the finish work can be done sectionally on a long plane's sides limiting the effort spent there.

I do have one plane with thick metal - a norris 13 panel plane, but it's heavy. 15 1/2 inches and 8 1/2 pounds. The sides are a shocking .2" and the sole .4" (it's casted, though, and not dovetailed). It's kind of a pig. A unique pig, but a pig.
 

D_W

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If he has time, it'll only be the tails so still a lot of filing to do! Can't make it too easy!

I spied this Holtey. Man that's nice looking...

But, of course, with a price to match. I've had to wipe the drool off my keyboard.
Cheers
Richard
Once in a while, they show up here for about half price used!!

Not sure what Karl used for irons in most, but someone on this side of the water has a couple that have exotic steels in them and they don't turn out to be very good for planing-super hard to sharpen, but not good at holding a fine edge as is common with a lot of exotic die steels (it would be simple enough to make a user iron for them, though). There are makers with more organic looking designs (karl is a master machinist), but I haven't seen anyone who makes one perfectly looking plane after another end to end the way karl did (assuming that he's actually retired now after suggesting he would for a while).
 

richarddownunder

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Inching is right... D_W, I'm glad you said the old Spiers were 1/8 because that means my one is only badly ground down at the heel on one side. Handplane central has plans which say that the sides were 3/16 so I thought my plane was ground to about 1/2 its thickness (it's below 2 mm at the heel). If you think 3mm would be a better thickness for the sides I could change my approach, but I think it would look a little thin and no room for a bit of grinding to remove the odd stray hammer blow! It'd be easier all round though. 4 mm would be ideal but so far I haven't found any. The price I mentioned is for 800 x 80 x 5mm thick...enough for 1!! Its really expensive here. I got another quote from a different supplier at $270 NZ for the same amount. Quarter inch is readily available in 380 but that is obviously miles too thick.
Cheers
Richard
 
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D_W

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I don't know why there are references to 3/16" on the sides of dovetailed planes. I like to think "i don't have many infills" right now, but I guess I still have four panel planes. Only the casted planes have thick sides. All of the dovetailed panel planes that I've had were 3/16" bottom and sides somewhere around 1/8".

I think there have been more boutique newer planes built with thicker sides and maybe some folks didn't think they could get away with 1/8", but it works well to keep the weight reasonable.

(the first dovetailed plane that I built, I also left fat - 1/4" on the bottom and 3/16" on the sides. I wanted the extra thickness and I don't have a mill, so I thought filing a built up bed plate might be difficult . it later turned out not to be so).

If you want the comfort of the thicker sides, though (for hammering), you can go with that, but I think it's easier to learn just not to work too fast on peining, or perhaps do something more targeted (like using a punch to move the corners and edges of the pins and tails rather than smashing the whole things. I've done both. Mild steel and brass are moved well by a punch once you get the confidence to hit it, and you can build an even technique using a punch so that the pein lines aren't wavy or crisp corners don't get bulged out.
 

IWW

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Well, I'm glad you checked the sides on your planes, D.W., because that's more like what I'd expect. I've read the 3/16" quote in several places & had begun to believe it. My eyes tell me that it doesn't look so thick in the pics of old panel planes, but i's hard to make accurate judgements from a photograph.

I thought the sides of the steel panel plane I made a few years ago from a partial kit were 1/8", but I just went & measured them & they are close as can be to 4mm, the same as the brass-sided one I made from scratch, which is 0.8mm thicker than 1/8".
PPsa.jpg


The steel sides look a bit thicker, but they are almost exactly the same as the brass, I've just chamfered them a bit differently in the throat section.

Here they are side by side, the steel-sided plane is 360mm & the brass 330mm (total sole length):
PPsb.jpg


I've always used 1/8" material for sides for planes up to 250mm long, but I must admit 4mm does look in proportion for a plane of 300 or more. Whether it's necessary for stiffness is a moot point. I think the hard brass (C380) would probably be plenty stiff enough for a plane up to 350mm long. It doesn't give you much room for error, but you shouldn't need to take much off the side material during cleanup, unless you are a really wild man with a hammer!

The C380 brass is readily available over this side of the ditch in 1/8" thickness and all sorts of widths (the dominance of the US market ensures that most of the brass we get is actually in imperial sizes). You could cut the two sides from a 100mm wide piece not much longer than the plane body by over-lapping the back ends of the sides which would cost around $50-60 here. I always work out the most economical fit for my templates & buy the brass in a suitable width to minimise waste.

Cheers,
 

richarddownunder

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At this stage, only 3 mm or 5 mm are available in NZ. Ian, I agree with the proportions, 4 mm would be nicer or at least 1/8 inch. If I was to get some 4 mm from Australia, do you have a recommended source? Based on your price, I could probably import some 4 mm for less then I could get 3 mm here. We don't have any suppliers who even do imperial sizes so it is either 3 or 5 mm. To thin (?) and too thick.

One trick I found helpful to avoid denting the sides previously was to cover the brass with a thin metal template - an old tin lid or similar. Could stick it on with double sided sellotape. I have used a punch like that before but just to get into corners.
Cheers
Richard
 
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IWW

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If I was to get some 4 mm from Australia, do you have a recommended source? ....
Unfortunately, no, Richard. Local merchants just don't carry 4mm as far as I can find. I found my bit on the interweb but have not seen any more since - I must've got the last bit! All I can find now are large, full sheets, which are well out of my budget range.

As I complained, over here, most of the brass offered is in Imperial sizes, even that advertised in metric units often turns out to be Imperial. 5/32" would be close enough to 4mm for practical purposes, but no-one here carries that size.

Keep searching, you may get lucky - they obviously make plenty of 4mm in that large country up there to the north of us, you can find any amount of 4mm by the truckload on Ali Baba.

There are various suggestions you'll see for protecting the surrounding metal from erant hammer blows. One way is to use a punch, as you mentioned. That can be good, but you need an off-sider to hold the job so you can use both hands. I find that extremely awkward, I need to be able to feel the plane on the anvil to know I'm striking with it solidly supported under the point of impact. Oher suggestions are to cut out bits of jam tin & fit them over the pins (really hard to do sufficiently neatly to do any good). Others suggest duct tape or something similar. That's probably the easiest to apply, but does the least good, in my experience.

I've hammered enough dovetails now that I don't worry about protection, my mis-hits are usually just glancing & minor. Having said that, I did make a more serious ding on my last plane - drifted into autopilot & lost focus, but fortunately, the dent filed out without too much metal needing to be removed. Do your peening in bursts, and if your arm starts to tire, which is when inaccuracy sets in, take a break - doesn't matter if you finish peening in an hour or a day or a week. I always take a good break when I think I've finished, & go off & have a cuppa or cut the grass, then go back calm & fresh & go over the whole thing again, checking each pin & tail carefully & giving them all an extra whack or 10 for good measure. Since I started doing that the pinholes have diminished to near zero, but the odd one still sneaks through. As I've said before, I have a profound respect for the blokes at Spiers &co who peened all day every day, consistently getting them so damned good!

I strongly recommend making at least one small plane before launching on a biggie like a panel plane. You'll pick up an awful lot on the first few jobs, and your skill level goes up exponentially. And best of all, if you do make a mess you haven't blown a hundred buck's worth of material....
Cheers,
 
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richarddownunder

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I think I have a solution. My friend can skim 5 mm down to 4 mm on his mill. I have found a company with 5 mm off-cuts and I'm following that up. In the meantime I bought (to my surprise as I thought I'd be out-bid) that Matheson coffin smoother. I may regret it or maybe it'll turn out a gem. We'll see. Hopefully it hasn't been ground like the Spiers...are those cast or dovetailed usually?

This is my last home made plane from a few years back...one of 3 I have done, but all small jobs. Even this one took quite a while but it does work really well. Easily as well as my Clifton block which is almost an identical size and is also very nice to use (just scared to death of dropping it).


Cheers
Richard
 

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IWW

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That little plane is not too shabby at all, Richard. :)

By the looks of that, I think you are more than ready to tackle your magnum opus.

It's very similar to the one I just posted, 'inspired' by the Norris 31/32 series. It's only a tiddler at about 125mm long & with a 32mm blade, a similar size to my Veritas "apron plane", which I think has been bumped out of the toolbox - the new one is much nicer to use....
;)
Cheers,
 

D_W

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I think I have a solution. My friend can skim 5 mm down to 4 mm on his mill. I have found a company with 5 mm off-cuts and I'm following that up. In the meantime I bought (to my surprise as I thought I'd be out-bid) that Matheson coffin smoother. I may regret it or maybe it'll turn out a gem. We'll see. Hopefully it hasn't been ground like the Spiers...are those cast or dovetailed usually?

This is my last home made plane from a few years back...one of 3 I have done, but all small jobs. Even this one took quite a while but it does work really well. Easily as well as my Clifton block which is almost an identical size and is also very nice to use (just scared to death of dropping it).


Cheers
Richard
Coffin smoothers are usually dovetails except for the later Norris a5.
 

IWW

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Coffin smoothers are usually dovetails except for the later Norris a5.
Not too sure about hat, D.W., I think Spiers & Mathieson both made cast bodies from quite early on, but I've never seen even specuation on what proportion were cast & what faabricated. You need to look very closely at any old infill & even then it can be awful hard to tell if it is or isn't dovetailed on an open-fronted chassis. You are supposed to be able to pick it by the small fillet inside where sides meet sole. I've got a late model A5 which I'm 95% certain is cast, but from the front & the back, the sides meet he sole as sharply as if they were dovetailed. I assume it was scraped or filed or milled square to make fitting the woodwork easier, but far from sure...
Many cast bodies have a solid front, which makes it easy to pick as a casting, but the open sided models are a different matter...

Cheers,
 

richarddownunder

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Mentioned I had bought a Mathieson coffin smoother. It arrived today. I'm pretty pleased with it. Despite a repaired tote and some 'restoration', it is in good nick. I can just faintly make out the dovetails. It has the original iron and cap iron and the lever cap is in almost perfect condition. I hope I look that good at 100+. Well, no I wont!

I guess it doesn't work better than my other tuned up planes, truth be told, but it does feel nice to use and left a lovely finish on some maple. Blade was flat on the back and sharpened easily, the sole had been 'restored" so was a little curved to the sides but I have more-or less fixed that.

So, overall, a lot better than the plane I started this thread about. Here it is in it's sharpened and oiled up glory.

Cheers
Richard
 

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D_W

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That one looks nice and the handle repair is clean. I had one exactly like it but on mine, the bun had been broken and reglued instead.

They are very practical for actual use and not bloated and overweight like a lot of the current boutique planes (bloated and overweight makes for a smooth feeling plane at a woodworking show where you're drawing in people to take orders).

Each plane I had of that style barely weighed more than a stanley and didn't become a burden in heavy work.
 
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