Tag Archives: floats

Making a moulding plane: Step 5 – Bedding the iron and fitting the wedge

This is the fifth part in a series on making a moulding plane.  You can read the previous posts using these links:  Making a moulding plane: Step 1 – The blankMaking a moulding plane: Step 2 – LayoutMaking a moulding plane: Step 3 – Making the grip and escapement, and Making a moulding plane: Step 4 – Boring (the Wedge Mortise).

We left off in the last post with the wedge mortise cut and squared up.  Now it is time to bed the iron and fit the wedge.

Bedding the iron is fairly straight-forward.  The first step is to put the blank iron (which can be purchased from Lie-Nielson Toolworks) into the mouth of the plane so that the tang (the long skinny part of the iron) is against the blind side of the escapement and runs up through the wedge mortise. The first time you do this, the result should look something like the photo below.  IMG_2969

At this point, the mouth of the plane should be too narrow for the iron to fit against the bed of the escapement.  The next few steps are to use a float to open up the mouth slightly so that the blade will fit against the bed.  Opening up the mouth will create a slight angle on the front of the escapement (the breast angle) that is called the “wear”.

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Go slow when cutting the wear angle.  Only open the mouth a tiny bit at a time and check your progress by inserting the iron after every few cuts with the float.  At this point, you don’t want the wear to look like the photo above, You just want the iron to fit against the bed.

Once the iron will fit against the bed, you want need to start the process of fitting the wedge.  You will have to have the wedge inserted to make sure the iron is properly bedded.  To start, you will need a piece of stock just slightly thicker than the width of your wedge mortise.  For a # 6 plane, we are shooting for 3/16″  The wedge should be cut from this stock so that the grain runs down the length of the wedge.  The angle of the wedge should be 10º.    The wedge doesn’t need to be angled down its full length.IMG_2970

Once you have the wedge blank a little thicker than the mortise, you will start removing a little bit of the thickness at a time until the wedge just fits and takes a little effort to pull out.  To remove this material, you can use a finely set smoothing plane, a float, sand paper, or any other method to remove small amounts of material in a controlled manner.  I prefer to use my crank-neck float.  Remove a little material, test the wedge in the mortise for the proper fit, rinse and repeat.

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Once the wedge is the right thickness to get a good fit in the mortise, you will need to work on fitting the angled edges to the bed and breast angles of the mortise and escapement.  To do this, insert the iron blank into the plane body as you did earlier when opening up the mouth of the plane.  Insert the wedge into the mortise and give it a tap with a wooden, plastic, or rubber mallet.  Metal hammers should only be used on the wedge with VERY light taps.  Otherwise, you may end up disfiguring or breaking the wedge.  Look at where the wedge meets the top of the mortise and check out where it comes out of the mortise into the escapement.  When the wedge is well fitted, there shouldn’t be any gaps at the top of the mortise and its front and back edges should be in contact with both the iron and the breast of the escapement.  Unless you are skilled or lucky, you will probably have to make some adjustments to the wedge to get this kind of fit.  If the wedge fits without gaps at the top of the mortise, but there is a gap in the escapement between the wedge and the iron or the wedge and the breast of the escapement, some material will need to be removed from the top part of the wedge where it seats into the mortise.  If the wedge is tight against the iron and breast of the escapement, but there are gaps at the mortise, some material needs to be removed from the tip of the wedge.  Ultimately, you will want to keep both sides of the wedge straight, so when you’re making these adjustments, you are really trying to make small tweaks to the angle of the wedge.

Once the wedge is fit, you can check the bedding of the iron.  Insert the iron into the plane body and tap in the wedge so that the fit is snug.  Check to make sure that the tang of the iron is contacting both the back of the wedge mortise and the wedge.  Then check to make sure that the iron is contacting the bed of the escapement.  If there are any gaps, which there probably will be, you will have to do some more float work to get the bed good and straight.

One way to do this is to color the side of the iron that rests against the bed with a dry-erase marker.  Insert the iron and wedge as described above and tap on the tang of the iron with a small hammer to push it out of the plane.  If you look at the back of the iron, you will get an idea of where any high spots in the bed are because the dry-erase marker will have been rubbed away.  If you look into the mortise with a light, you should be able to see the high spots because of the color from the marker that rubbed of on them.  Use a float to remove these high spots.

Take your time and repeat the process of coloring the iron and testing for and removing high spots until the nearly all of the dry-erase marker is removed.  This will let you know that the iron is well bedded.

I will have to put the rest of this series on hold for a few weeks until I get a grinder and the equipment I need to heat treat the plane irons.  Once I have those in place, I’ll show how to profile the sole of the plane and the iron.

Until next time. . .

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. . .

Planemaker’s Floats Part 5

Its been an extremely busy few weeks and I haven’t had much time for woodworking, much less for blogging.  I was able to finish the planemaker’s floats I have been working on.

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Hardening a float.

 

A week ago, I was able to get the floats hardened.  My in-laws had a nice hot fire going in their wood stove; just waiting for the float blades.  I did end up with a little warping of the steel.  It wasn’t too bad though, and I don’t think it will affect the tools in use.

The next day, was able to temper the blades in a toaster oven.  2014-02-08 16.16.51 - Copy

After the tempering was finished, I sharpened the floats.  Finally, after a coat or two of boiled linseed oil on the handles, the floats are all finished.

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Finished Planemaker’s Floats

 

This weekend, I have started working on restoring three vintage handsaws, which I plan on selling.  More about these saws in a future post.

Until next time. . .

Planemaker’s Floats – Part 2

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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).2014-01-11 19.17.51

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.

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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.

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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.

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Finally, I removed the layout fluid from the float.  The next step will be heat treatment and then making the handle for the float.

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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. . .