What plane to plane rosewood?

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D_W

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I lucked into a nice large quartered rosewood blank - I don't know that it's perfect quality, but it'll be good enough for the guitars that I'm making.

I asked the seller if it was dry, and maybe it's just me, but the people selling exotics are always "oh, yeah, it's air dried - we've had it for a while, I'm sure it's 8-9%".

That's about ambient moisture here in the US in wood, or close to what you'd expect kiln dried wood to come back up to.

I get a package from UPS today and sure enough the blank comes out and it smells like a peppery cigar and is cool to the touch and a little heavier than its texture would suggest. I sent an email "are you importing green wood, sawing it and just selling it?"

"No, we've had it for a while".

So, thinking it's a bit damp and not wanting to waste my millions (OK, the fortune is more like the reciprocal) I figured I'll plane it flush (so I can see any checks and glue them right away) and then I'll weigh it.

Youtube served me Rob Cosman's "the last word on bevel up vs. bevel down planes". I think the algorithm knows how to make my eyes cross. No teaching people to use the cap iron.....Of course.

It occurred to me that I have a mexico four that I flattened, and that the stock iron is pretty decent in (there's no reason it shouldn't be, but there are plenty of $13 stamped irons sold now that are made of medium carbon chome vanadium. This plane isn't one of them - the iron is a solid middle of the pack or about vintage hardness). This board was covered with fairly coarse saw cuts, so there are definitely shavings, but there was a lot of planing in addition to that to get to them. I didn't have to resharpen. the next time I use this plane, I'd resharpen. IT was pleasant to use because the cap was set and the plane stays engaged in the cut. Without the cap set or with a BU plane that's not steep (which is defeating to the person using it for anything like this), the plane won't stay in the cut. I know the armchair experts know why this doesn't matter, and Rob sets his cap iron back at least visually and ....I really have no clue.

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When I started, I was convinced that you couldn't use a plane with plastic handles, you couldn't use the iron that came in a plane like this, nor the plane and that I could probably just throw these irons away. That's what the gurus teach about what you need. Nothing is replaced on this plane - it's got a large mouth (closing the mouth is an activity for the witless, and on this one, the span of unsupported iron hanging off of the frog would be yucky), but this plane does have one not special habit - the eccentric on the lever cap isn't right and in order to get good pressure clamping down, you toss the lever cap on and then turn the frog screw retaining it about 1/3rd of a turn and all is great. Without it, the iron is just a bit loose. Tighten the screw first, and you aren't man enough to finish the rest (I'm not, at least). If you keep a screwdriver at the stones (some people keep a ruler and a guide!!!) this takes all of about 5 seconds.

This plane will plane anything. If the person using it knows how to set the iron geometry so that it doesn't get damaged by hard woods or abrasive woods, it will last as long as you'd care to go before resharpening again, and then be resharpened in a minute.

(that's shellac in the background, by the way - not wee....I was fitting handles to some of my own chisels earlier and the glass jar hasn't yet evacuated to a safe space).

My zest for the forums is fast running out. One of the reasons that is has to do with how easy it is to get a plane like this to work with rosewood or even gombeira, but that it's a constant struggle to get anyone to even try and two for one, you get smarm back.

(no special sharpening either - diamond hone, washita, tangent buff to strop).

One last side detail - I was enamored with V11's ability to last in an idealized test, and then used the steel that is most likely is as well as the V11 irons and found an inability to get the full "improvement" in actual daily use. The iron in this plane when nicking and sharpening time is considered is actually more efficient than V11. I didn't know if there would be silica in this billet (I don't think there is, but sometimes there's a lot) - but even without that, the interrupted cut would take some little nicks out of the V11 edges and if smoothing were to follow this, it's back to the stones to remove a couple of thousandths.
 

D_W

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I can't help but chuckle over one other thing - the average guru would have you spending what I spent on the billet on the plane instead, and what I spent on the plane on the billet. What a shame that would be.

Once this billet shows that it doesn't lose weight in week, it'll be a treat to cut it into a couple of neck blanks and tap them and hear it return a musical note (it's not that easy to see from the picture, but it's 4x4 inches in cross section).
 

JSW

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If I'm reading this right, you're inserting the cap iron as normal, at a normal level of tension, then giving the retaining screw an additional one third of a turn?
Doesn't that make advancing/retracting the blade somewhat difficult to 'dial-in'?

Interesting nonetheless, I wonder what Rob and the other guru's would make of this?
 

D_W

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Yes, that's what I'm doing because the eccentric isn't made quite right. That's just a consequence of getting a $48 plane made in Mexico.

It's not overly tight with the screw adjusted and adjusts well. The later frog designs generally adjust under tension better than the earlier milled design.

I probably should've also showed the garish mouth. The inconsequential details are a little ugly, but the core of the plane relies on simple things done by the user. Just different things than all of the gurus advise. It's quite pleasant though other than the small extra twist of a screw.

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D_W

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But did you know that the Romans used urine in the hardening of high carbon steel ?
" Theophilus, was adamant that the best quenching liquid is "the urine of a red-haired boy". "

well, I can't gather much on the hair color, but hardening of steel with different quenchants definitely makes a big difference. The desirability of some natural ores had a lot to do with how those ores affected both toughness, but especially hardenability (particularly how fast does something need to be cooled and how deep does it go).

Even if whizz didn't get permanent use as a quenchant, it could very well be in a jar like that in my shop with files in it.

Well, except my spouse has a bionic nose and when this peppery piece of rosewood arrived, she said "what smells like poop down here" (in the basement through the door). Not wanting to alert her to a large billet of rosewood that I found that was a very good deal, but would not be considered such by her - I told her "I pooped". A jar of lant used to etch files would be short lived, not to mention that using it in beer and bread is out of the question here.

I would talk about the high class nature of the place anywhere that I'm not in charge, but ....I'm using a plane from mexico with plastic handles and enjoying it quite a bit.
 

D_W

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There is a bit of a something for nothing thing here, too. Because the internet loves something for nothing secrets.

The iron in this plane is good. It's not as good as the best irons I can make, but it doesn't cost more than the steel that I'd use just as bar stock, and while it's not quite as good - it's close.

I have purchased two later planes in the last several years and both have emerged from the 70s era of softer steel without much high hardness potential (even if you reharden them) to something better. What it is, I don't know, but I would speculate that this iron is at least 0.8% carbon and if I bring it in to look at it through the microscope, I can prove its fineness and see if there are perhaps other carbides floating around in it. There could be something, but it doesn't feel like a steel that has a surplus of everything (I have not "felt" all steels on the stones, and one that doesn't seem to add slickness is tungsten....given the cost of tungsten, I don't think it will make a cameo).

I will report back, though - if this iron were stamped with a bit more style and called good "vintage spec" irons, not many people would complain.
 

thetyreman

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I've planed rosewood with a standard 4 1/2 with it's original blade with no problems at all, I'm hoping to make my first guitar soon so may ask you a few questions as I go along.
 

D_W

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Rosewood kind of has several personalities. When it's downgrain, it's a gorgeous wood to plane. In general, for its specified hardness (ranging from 2000-3000), it's nice planing and usually the worst thing you'll find is minor tearout behind pinknot like spots or reversals, as well as from zero to a lot of silica. This wood doesn't seem to have any (I don't want to jinx myself) so the interrupted saw cuts are a bigger issue (a plane iron is happy bedded in a cut with a smooth shaving coming out - in and out of a cut is like running a chisel into something and you get a little impact damage.

There are a lot of woods that are less dense and less hard that are much worse to plane, though. This and brazilian and bois de rose (which you'll hardly ever find) are kind of "woodworker's woods". The wood arranges itself to have strong smooth shavings and not resist cutting with or across them within reason (if it's dry, it'll still batter plane irons planing end grain, but everything above a given hardness level will, maybe aside from woods like gabon ebony that don't seem to have directionality).

I'd be glad to talk about guitars - i've made few compared to some (7) but am getting into more difficult territory and without relying on buying more than templates and plans and a trim router. Everything else is done by hand. ..

...er, forgot my one new purchase that's not a necessity, but about three years ago, I bought a used ridgid OSS, which is super practical for things that were designed to be made by a pin router and veritcal sander in the first place (and can be used in place of a router to trim to a template on wood that a factory maker wouldn't use. Rosewood is one of those - common in little bits but not often carved on a carve top.

(here's an example of a neck blank that I had that's loaded with silica - you can actually vacuum it out, plane a stroke and the next layer under a thin shaving looks the same as this - lines on the work from what silica does to the iron and no type of steel is able to avoid damage, but you can modify the edge of *all* irons to avoid significant damage like what left these lines).

 

D_W

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if that picture doesn't enlarge, it may be necessary to expand it -not sure why the full picture doesn't come up (bigger than screen size). It's really loaded.

from comments earlier, to see if there were excess carbides in this iron (with magnification cranked way up to 300x, so the picture itself is less than .01" tall in view field) - nothing. Just scratching from either something in the rosewood or dirt on the outside of the billet.

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I guess it's possible that some of the very smooth bumps near the edge may be carbide shadows. But steel with prominent carbides is easier to see.

This is the edge after all of the planing in the picture - it looks a bit ragged, but all of the bashing is only a fraction of a thousandth thick with slightly more deflection in other places. A brisk session on the medium stone (with a hollow ground edge) and all of the damage will be gone. This kind of damage seems to be independent of hardness and wear resistance, so having to remove it from an iron that got dented but is very wear resistant is a waste of time.

Translation, it's better to use a good iron with low alloying in woods that batter edges vs. getting a high hardness HSS or something (which will pin you at the sharpening stones and grinder proportionally far longer than it will yield in edge life).

The diagonal scratches are artifacts of honing -the ones perpendicular to the edge are not. The wear stripe on this iron ends about 2/3rds of the way into the metal - the cap iron prevents the wear from going any further back - the cap wasn't set as close as the bottom of this picture, but it pushes on the shaving and causes it to curve bridging the gap between the last wear and where it contacts the front of the cap. In bad wood, this greatly improves edge life over no cap effect.
 

TRITON

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when this peppery piece of rosewood arrived, she said "what smells like poop down here"
Bubinga's like that. Created a load of shavings off the router and the distinct smell of poo was unmistakable.
Mind you, the heartwood of all hardwood trees are toxic because trees dont have bums and store their own waste products.
 

Jameshow

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Do you get soba planes in the USA? Usually Irwin or similar?

How does your Mexico plane compare?
 

D_W

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Ooh must be expensive stuff, no obvious to newbies full length cap iron influenced shavings!

$240 or $250, I can't remember - I followed the seller off of another listing because he was cutting smaller stuff and asked him if he could cut a billet of this size (which would make two guitar necks, though it would also make two jack planes and several moulding planes, or two jack planes and a fender style guitar neck...like Step Brothers . .."think of the possibilities").

That may sound like a lot for a billet of wood - it'd have been a bargain if it was as dry as the seller said. So far since yesterday after planing, it's lost 3 ounces of weight (it also weighs 0.9 SG, or that's the density when typical for rosewood is 0.83 and I've seen a lot of indian rosewood, including actual samples that are 0.9 dry- the pores are smaller. I suspect this billet needs to shed 10-15% of its weight be dry, but I'm not in a race).

Planing the saw marks off will hopefully slow the drying a little without waxing it (less surface area) and make it easier for me to spot any checks occurring.

There was a guy who used to harrass me when I first started "how are you going to be able to afford wood with 10 lie nielsen planes". Well, it wouldn't have been an issue - they're wonderful planes, but not so great for hand tool only kind of setup.

When you get wood for guitar necks and bodies, you just hope to get something out of a box, hold it by one end and tap it and hear "bonnnngggg!!!" because you know it transfer vibrations, and when the whole thing vibrates a little more, it sounds just a little different - often strong midrange. It's got to be dry to do that, though, and the weight test will tell the story with this one.

You can make a wonderful guitar out of cheap wood, too - if it's selected, but it can be a lot of work to hang a bunch of wood, or saw and monitor it and then tap it to see which has both good sound and good movement behavior. I have a couple of rosewood boards to bookmatch a carved top (will probably butcher them) and want a rosewood neck to match - it'll be unique if made cleanly.
 

D_W

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(I should probably also add for anyone thinking this is absurd - $240 for a short billet of wood, I think if you can actually get a decent rosewood neck from fender, the additional cost is the same or more than just buying the wood...

and you can get questionable wood grain (even the aftermarket companies making licensed necks won't give you individual pictures of what you're getting and what's used in the listings is usually something straight looking).

AT any rate, I see fender would like to get around $700 US for a rosewood neck with hit or miss listings looking like actual indian rosewood, and I see a listing in the UK sold at at 600 pounds. Boggling. This billet making only fender necks would yield something like four with fingerboards and a gaggle of chisel handles where the waste was big enough to be resawn (or a fifth flatsawn neck). IT ends up seeming pretty cheap. That's my argument at least!! Wouldn't want to build a kitchen with the stuff, though - it'd be a heavy kitchen.

When you can control what you get and how you saw it, though, it just makes a relatively plain thing (like an electric guitar) look so much better. It's in a category of woods, though, that I'd say are super for hand workers because their hardness, musical properties, workability are really great in combination. Just as beech makes a better plane than maple, but is actually easier to work is kind of an example of the same.

Ceylon ebony, which I just got a sample of last week for the first time, too (and isn't found in large pieces) is another one. Buttery smooth, only about as hard as rosewood but looks like gabon ebony. Some research finds that it was preferred in the past to gabon.
 

Ttrees

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Only stumbled across a luthier channel in the last week tapping all kinds of stuff,
not tried making anything musical from my iroko yet, but was pleased to hear the nice ring the few pieces I picked up were.
Tis why I bought a big bandsaw for stumbling across some tonewood, well before I got into hand tool woodwork rather than cheating with gizmos.

Never checked the price of IRW, or the eastern touted flavour of it.
I'd have thought Madinter in Spain would sell it and be cheaper but unseen than that UK listing.
Or even some UK places like Surrey timbers? I think Mitch Peacock or Matt Estlea mentioned that place IIRC, would have guessed worth comparing.
Not checked what the deal would be with CITES or the Lacey act, or brexit for that matter
and seems like a possible headache.
Have some super dense stuff to mess around with plus some other salvaged timbers until then.
 

Cabinetman

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(I should probably also add for anyone thinking this is absurd - $240 for a short billet of wood, I think if you can actually get a decent rosewood neck from fender, the additional cost is the same or more than just buying the wood...

and you can get questionable wood grain (even the aftermarket companies making licensed necks won't give you individual pictures of what you're getting and what's used in the listings is usually something straight looking).

AT any rate, I see fender would like to get around $700 US for a rosewood neck with hit or miss listings looking like actual indian rosewood, and I see a listing in the UK sold at at 600 pounds. Boggling. This billet making only fender necks would yield something like four with fingerboards and a gaggle of chisel handles where the waste was big enough to be resawn (or a fifth flatsawn neck). IT ends up seeming pretty cheap. That's my argument at least!! Wouldn't want to build a kitchen with the stuff, though - it'd be a heavy kitchen.

When you can control what you get and how you saw it, though, it just makes a relatively plain thing (like an electric guitar) look so much better. It's in a category of woods, though, that I'd say are super for hand workers because their hardness, musical properties, workability are really great in combination. Just as beech makes a better plane than maple, but is actually easier to work is kind of an example of the same.

Ceylon ebony, which I just got a sample of last week for the first time, too (and isn't found in large pieces) is another one. Buttery smooth, only about as hard as rosewood but looks like gabon ebony. Some research finds that it was preferred in the past to gabon.
Dear God, I have a pile of Victorian 1860 Mahogany/ Rosewood (from an old bank) the countertops are probably not that valuable but the frames from around the panels are 1 1/4” x 4“ and 4 ft long, I think it’s Rosewood, I could be sitting on a veritable goldmine! And I saved it from the bonfire!
 

Ttrees

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Even if it were veneer, it could be suitable for some who make instruments
using laminated or double sides!
Wouldn't even need to resaw it, and likely hide glue which probably be used anyway.
Other stuff like head plates or even bindings too.
Eager myself to find something of the sort someday, plenty of other species got by similar means but not rosewood yet.

Picture grabbed from google.
Wilson Burnham Guitars: Laminating Classical Guitar Sides 1772 × 1772
 

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