Well, I was able to make a lot of progress on one of the planemaker’s floats I’m working on. This particular float is used to cleaning up the the mortises in moulding planes (the hole in the center of the plane where the iron and the wedge go. This type of float is called an edge float. Above is a photo of the float after I sawed out the basic shape using a hacksaw. If you are thinking about trying to make your own floats, I would HIGHLY recommend you use a fairly coarse hacksaw blade. The one I had was a 32 tooth per inch (TPI) blade I had used a little too long. I have one tooth that is broken and the rest of the teeth are getting dull. This leads to a very irritating screeching noise when using the saw. Needless to say, my wife and our two pugs weren’t too happy when I was working on the floats in the evening with them sitting 5 feet away.
After sawing out the blank, I used a mill file to smooth out the rough edge that was left by the saw and to dial in the angle I wanted for the float (10º).
With the edge smoothed and the angle of the float where I wanted it, I applied some red layout fluid to the edge and used a scribe to mark out the position of the teeth. I decided on 8 TPI, which seems to be fairly standard for floats. After the location of the points of the teeth were laid out, I used my (dull) hacksaw to start grooves for the file that I used to shape the teeth.
Then I moved the float to my saw vice (I picked it up a week ago at an antique store in Springfield, OH. More about that later.). I then used a 6″ slim taper saw file to start shaping the teeth of the float. When you are cutting teeth in a float, or a saw for that matter, you want to leave just the slightest bit of a flat on the tops of the teeth on your first pass. The next step is to use a mill file to “joint” the teeth, which simple means that you are getting all the teeth the same height. At this point, I like to add a little more layout fluid to the teeth before I hit them one more time with the triangular saw file. The layout fluid helps you to see how much of the flat is left on the top of the teeth; when the color is gone, you know to stop filing that tooth.
At this point, the float is quite sharp. Next I marked the locations for two saw nuts that I will use to secure the float in its handle.
Finally, I removed the layout fluid from the float. The next step will be heat treatment and then making the handle for the float.
Before I start heat treating, I have three more floats to make. I will be making 1 side float, which has a 10º taper with the point in the center of the float, with teeth cut into one of the wide sides. Side floats are used to clean up the triangular sides of a wedge mortise. I am also making 2 check floats, which are much smaller and used for general cleanup and removing excess wood while fitting the wedge. One of these floats will cut on the push stroke, and the other on the pull stroke.
I got some new hacksaw blades and a new hacksaw frame today, so hopefully I will be able to get the rest of the floats cut out and the profiles smoothed by this weekend. I may even be able to file the teeth into them.
I don’t get too much feed back from those of you that read the blog. If you would like more information about any part of this process, please feel free to leave a comment below or send me a message.
More next time. . .