Planemaker’s Floats – Part 3


2014-01-17 18.26.38

This week I didn’t get as much done on the planemaker’s floats as I had hoped.  I did get the blade of the side float completed.  The process is essentially the same as for the edge float I’ve written about in the previous posts in this series (here and here).  First I cut out the blank with a hacksaw and then laid out the teeth.  The biggest difference between the side float and the edge float is that the teeth are on the wide face of the float.  Such wide teeth make it more difficult to sharpen because they are harder to keep parallel and straight.  I learned a lesson that should have been obvious; lay out the teeth before sawing the blank.  Since both sides of this float are angled, there is no way to use the edge of the float as a reference surface to make the teeth perpendicular to the center of the float.  Laying out the location of the teeth while the blank is still rectangular solves this problem.

After I laid out the teeth, I started the grooves for each tooth using the hacksaw.

2014-01-17 20.32.54The next step was to start filing the teeth.  If (when) I make another side float, I will leave the blank a little longer so I can drill some holes and screw it to a board instead of using a clamp (as shown above).  As with the side float, filing the teeth is a two-step process.  First is to file the teeth until the layout fluid is just filed away.  The next step is to joint the teeth.  Jointing is the process of making sure the teeth are all the same height.  When I joint the teeth, I add more layout fluid to the tips of the teeth, and then file them with a flat mill file until the bare metal shows through all the way across all the teeth.  At this point, the flats on the tops of the teeth will likely be uneven, wider on one side than the other, etc.

Next, I remove any excess layout fluid from the teeth and then mark the flat spots with a red Sharpie marker (it is easier to mark only the flats with a marker than with the layout fluid).  Then, I file the teeth again to even them up.  This takes a little practice to get right; you have to make a decision on how much to file away from each face of the tooth.  The goal is to have each tooth be the same width and the same depth.  This is also the chance to get the teeth parallel;  just file the teeth so the wider parts of the flat are removed and made even.  Then, finish filing until the flat just disappears.

2014-01-17 22.26.52 2014-01-17 22.27.16At this point, the float is nice and sharp.  The final step  is to drill the holes for the saw nuts to hold it in the handle.

2014-01-19 19.55.51This float has to be heat-treated and be mounted in a handle.

I also had a chance to lay out the teeth on the cheek floats I’m making.  One of these floats will cut on the pull stroke and the other on the push stroke.  The push float has the teeth facing the end of the float; the teeth on the pull float face the handle.  Because these floats are the same shape, I marked the area of each tooth that needs to be removed with a black Sharpie so that I won’t forget and file the teeth wrong.

2014-01-18 10.34.37

I hope to finish at least one of these floats over the next week.  I’ll write another post next week with an update.  Until then. . .

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