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 Amazon.com 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.
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 . . .