Monthly Archives: January 2016

Plane-makers Floats. . .Again

A couple of years ago, I wrote a series of posts about making a set of plane-makers floats.  I’m going to revisit these tools briefly again here because they are one of the most important and useful tools for making moulding planes.  The various floats are all used to refine the wedge mortise of a wooden plane as well as the bed the iron rests on and the front of the mortise.

This week, I made the body of my moulding plane.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think to get photos of the process.  There will be some photos of the mostly finished plane body below.  I was surprised at how simple the process really was.  The only challenging part of making the plane was getting the wedge mortise cut cleanly.  First, the mortise has to be drilled and then the waste inside has to be removed with a chisel.  Keeping the mortise straight down the body is a little nerve-wracking (at least the first time around).  Once the bulk of the waste is removed, it’s time to use the plane maker’s floats.  They are used to make the walls of the mortises straight and smooth.  They are also used when working on bedding the iron so that it is held firmly in place when the plane is used.

In my next post, since I didn’t get photos of me making the first plane, I’ll post some photos about how and where each of the floats are used in making a plane.  Below are some photos of the partially finished moulding plane.

Until next time. . .

Looking for an angle. . .

I mentioned in my post last week that I have been starting to look for and purchase some special tools that, according to Larry Williams DVD, Making Traditional Side Escapement Planes, will make the process of making moulding planes easier.  One of these tools is a Universal Bevel Protractor.  These are really more of a machinist tool than a tool for woodworking, but they are useful for setting accurate angles for bedding plane irons and fitting wedges.  I started looking for one online and almost immediately had sticker shock.  The first one I found was on and runs around $260 U.S.  Needless to say, this is out of my price range for a one-trick-pony tool like this.  This tool’s trick is that it will let you accurately measure or set an angle down to 1/12 of a degree.  I gave up on getting one and decided that I’d have to find some other way to set the angles I needed for making planes.


Then, on my way home from a business trip in Cincinnati, I decided to stop into an antique mall that I try to hit anytime I’m in the area.  I wasn’t in the store for 10 minutes and what did I find but a Universal Bevel Protractor.  And the price was only $50 U.S. – SOLD!

In his DVD, Larry Williams gives specific bed angles that are most commonly used for planes and with this tool, I was able to make some saw guides that will let me saw out the escapement of the planes (where the shavings come out) at the right angles.  There are four common bedding angles (called pitches) that are used for planes: standard pitch (45º) for softwoods, york pitch (50º) for both soft and hardwoods, middle pitch (55º) for hardwoods, and half pitch (60º) for figured woods or woods with interlocking grain.  So far, I have made guides for all of the pitches except half pitch.IMG_2775

These are simply wooden blocks with with the desired angles cut on them and a fence glued on  to register them against the plane being made.  Then, the guide can be clamped to the plane and used to guide a saw to cut out the escapement.  The right side of each guide is the bed angle (minus 1/4º to allow for adjustments) and the left side is the breast angle (the breast is the front wall of the escapement and wedge mortise).  These angles result in a 10 1/2º wedge angle for holding in the planes iron.

Hopefully, in the next few weeks, I’ll be able to start working on making a plane or two.  I’ll be sure to get photos and post about the process.

Until next time . . .


I’ve been wanting to make a sector for a few years, ever since I read Jim Tolpin’s article “Secrets of the Sector” in the June 2011 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine.  What exactly does a sector do for you?  Well, back in 2011, Chris Schwarz posted a great video that answers that question better than I can.

A couple of months ago, I took a few hours to try making a sector again.  I’ve tried a couple of times, but I  had issues with the wood I used warping when I sawed them out because of tension in the boards.  This time, I used a piece of 1 1/2″ square red oak and used my frame saw to cut the two legs from the same piece.  Doing it this way, I had very little movement in the pieces.  To hinge the pieces, I made a rounded bridal joint with a wooden hinge pin.  All in all, it was a good test.  I’m still trying to get the graduated lines set up just right to get consistent results.  I’m not really happy with the red oak for the tool because the grain is so large.  I’d like a more fine grained wood for this purpose.

A couple of weeks later, I was in Dayton, Ohio for work and decided to visit one of my favorite antique stores.  The store had added a restoration and reclaimed building materials section since the last time I had been there, and I thought I would poke around a little.  I found some hardwood 2″ x 4″s around 3′ feet long.  They were quarter-sawn (the growth rings ran from wide face to wide face of the billets) and were only about $2.50 each.  I had been thinking that when I made another sector, I wanted to use quarter-sawn material because it expands and contracts mostly along the thickness of the piece instead of the width.

A couple of days after I brought them home, I decide to start milling up the boards and this is what I found. . .


It ends up that these boards are quarter-sawn beech.  This is the type of wood that is preferred for making wooden hand planes.  This type of lumber usually costs around three times more than I paid for it.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts, that I would like to make a set of moulding planes for creating mouldings and other profiles on furniture.  I now have the material for a few planes.  In fact, the next weekend, I went back to Dayton and bought five or six more of these billets.


Over the past few weeks, I’ve been rewatching Larry Williams’ DVD on making moulding planes, Making Traditional Side Escapement Planes and buying and making tools I will need to make a few planes.

In future posts, I’ll show you some of these tools and fixtures.

Until next time . . .

More Projects – Diamond Plate Box


Before I get started,  I have started a facebook page to go along with the blog.  I’d like to have a community develop where it is easier for you as readers to share with me and with others.

That being said, I’d like to share the first project I built using the fame saw I wrote about last week.  It is a box to hold the diamond plates I use for sharpening.  Over a few months in 2014, I bought a full set of DMT diamond plates for sharpening.  Now, before I go any further, I wouldn’t recommend anyone buy a full set of any sharpening media to start with.  For most woodworking tools, a coarse, medium and fine polishing stone should be all that is needed.  I bought the full set because I plan/hope to do some more tool making, and the full range of grits will be helpful for that.  There will be more posts to come of the topic of tool making.

One of the problems I had with the diamond plates is that to save space, I would stack the plates and would have to sort through to find the one I needed every time I needed to sharpen a tool.  I decided to make this so that I would be able to reach in, grab the plate I need, and get to work.

I was able to use some scrap that I had in my shop from when I built my workbench in 2012.  I had a length of 6″ x 6″ Douglas Fir left over from one of the legs of my workbench.  This was the perfect size for making the box.


I was able to lay out the widths of the boards for the box sides and started a sawcut on the end so my frame saw would get a straight start.

I didn’t photos of my using the frame saw, but to be honest, the resawing went extremely quickly and with surprising little effort.  In fact, for those of you that can’t imagine doing this kind of sawing by hand, I literally didn’t break a sweat doing the sawing. With each stroke of the saw, I cut between 1/4″ and 1/2″ of material, which make these 11″ cuts go really fast.

I did have some issues with the saw drifting a little to the right for most of these cuts.  At first I thought it was my technique, but after a few cuts, I decided to try removing some of the set on the right side of the blade (Set is the amount that the saw teeth are bent out to make the kerf wider so the blade doesn’t get bound up in the cut.  Every tooth is bent, alternating from left to right for every other tooth.)

IMG_2633The pencil lines in the photo above are where I intended the cut to be.  By the ends of the cuts, the saw had drifted between 1/16″ and 3/16″.

The saw cuts were surprisingly smooth for a saw with such large teeth.


I then planed down the boards and laid out the box for dovetails.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think to get photos of all this at the  time I was doing the work.

I also glued up 3/16″ thick panels for the top and bottom of the box.  I then made 1/8″ grooves for the top and bottom in the box sides and ends.  Then it was time to cut the dovetails.  My dovetailing needs a lot of work, but the end result was functional.


Then I glued in 1/2″ dividers to the box ends glued a lip onto the end of the top to match the rest of the sides to the top.

Here are some more photos of the finished box:

The box is typically set up as shown in the photo at the top of the blog post.  This box has been a great help in working more efficiently.  At this point, I can’t think of any changes to the box that I would make if I had it to do again.

Please leave any questions or comments in the comments section, or on the facebook page.

Until next time. . .

Roubo frame saw

Happy New Year

Well,  its a new year and I’m looking forward to the chance to do some more woodworking than I did in 2015.  I am also going to make a serious attempt to blog more than I did in 2015 (which won’t take much).

While I didn’t get much woodworking done last year, I thought I would do a couple of posts about the handful of projects I did work on.

The first significant project I did was building a Roubo frame saw for resawing lumber (cutting thinner boards from thicker ones).

Roubo frame saw

Roubo frame saw

I made this saw using a blade and hard ware from Blackburn Tools.  I made the wooden frame out of hickory.  I don’t know if I would use hickory again if I was to do it over.  The saw is really heavy and can be a beast to move around.  I chose to go with a 4″ wide blade on the saw, which is only offered in a 48″ length.  This makes the frame of the saw just short of five feet long in total, which is almost too long for one person to use.  I’ve used the saw on a couple of projects so far, and it works really well.  I had some trouble getting the saw to cut straight at first, but I was able to fix that by removing some of the set on the right side of the saw blade with a diamond stone.

The frame saw is a really great tool that I’m glad to have in my shop now.  It has opened up a lot of opportunities for me since I can resaw the thickness of lumber I need from larger stock instead of planing away a lot of extra stock or making things larger than I would prefer.

Next week, I’ll write a post about a box I made to hold the diamond plates I use for sharpening using the frame saw.

Until next time. . .