Tag Archives: projects

More on plane makers floats

I didn’t have much time for woodworking this week.  However, I did take a few minutes to get the wedge for my first moulding plane cut out and to the right thickness for the wedge mortise.

Last week, I mentioned that I would take some photos of the plane makers floats I used and where they are used in the process of making a wooden side-escapement plane such as a moulding plane.

First up is a crank-neck float.  This isn’t a dedicated plane making float, but it is a handy tool.  The toothed portion of the blade is around 3 inches long, and reasonably flat.  This makes it a great tool for leveling and cleaning up the grip of the plane.  I also used it cut the rounded profile of the plane.  I had to use a straight-edge to make sure it had a straight profile along the length of the plane, but it worked out well.

Once the mortise roughed in by boring and the removing the waste with a chisel, the float work in the mortise begins with the side float.  As can be seen from the photo above, the angle of the float is just a little smaller than the angle of the escapement.  This float is used to remove material from the sides of the wedge mortise and to refine the fit of the wedge.  Floats can leave a very clean finished surface, so they are also used to refine the mortise once it is close to being the right size.  Both sides of the mortise get cleaned up with the side float.  At the moment, I’ve only made a push style side float (it cuts on the push stroke only) and I’m considering making a pull style side float as well.  The pull floats are good for removing material at the mouth of the plane because the force required to use the float moves from the narrowest part of the mortise at the mouth toward the larger grip end of the mortise.  This keeps the mouth from being damaged.

Next, the bed (back wall, where the iron rests) and breast (the front wall of the mortise where the wedge is puts pressure to hold the iron in place) of the plane are refined with the edge float.  Again, the angle of this float is slightly less than the wedge mortise angle.  This float is used to make the bed and breast straight so that the wedge and iron will make full connection, which will affect how securely the wedge holds the iron in place.

The final floats that are used in making moulding planes are cheek floats.  I use both push and pull style cheek floats.  These floats are used to hollow out the sides of the mortise slightly.  This helps to make the wedge fit a little better.

That pretty much covers the use of these floats in making a moulding plane.  I plan to order the plane iron blanks for this plane and it’s mating hollow (concave) plane from Lie-Nielsen Toolworks.  Once I get these irons, I’ll write some posts about profiling the iron for this plane and then I’ll make the hollow plane and get some photos of the process so that I can write a post about it.

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. . .


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 . . .

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. . .

Odds, ends, and End Tables

It has been a busy and emotionally overwhelming few weeks for me, so there hasn’t been too much woodworking going on in my shop.  I have been out of town for work more than I have been home since the beginning of the year.  Thankfully, busy season for my work is almost over and my schedule should settle down somewhat.  On top of being out of town, one of our two pugs , Piglet was diagnosed with cancer at the end of January.  Since my wife and I don’t have children, the pugs are our kids.   Last Saturday morning, we lost our baby and have been trying to deal with the loss.

Our goofy little princess, Piglet.

On the weekends that I have been home, I have tried to putter around a little in the shop.  I was able to get a backsaw restored, sharpened, and ready to go to work.  I also have started to get back to the Arts and Crafts End Table project I started a year ago and put on hold for a basement remodel (that still hasn’t happened yet).

The first step that I took was to create a storey stick for the project.  A storey stick, for those of you who don’t know, is simply a stick with the locations of the major elements of a project marked on it.  The stick is then used to transfer any dimensions, spacing, etc. to the actual work piece without the use of a ruler.  This helps to make the dimensions more accurate because it eliminates measuring errors from the process.  Layout lines can be transferred by either using dividers between elements on the storey stick or by directly marking the work piece from the storey stick.

For my storey sticks, I use a square stick that is about 3/4″ – 1″ on each side.  All the layout lines for a particular dimension (the height, width, and depth) are made on a single side of the stick.  So, my stick has one side that is for the height of the tables, one for the width, and one for the depth.  I could, and may, add layout for the workings of the drawers on the fourth side or on another stick.

After I made the storey stick, I glued up the panel for the top of one of the tables.  One of my boards was bowed, so I had to do some extra planing to get the top flat.  Here is a photo of the first two boards I picked to make the top.

Our goofy little princess

In the next two photos, you can see the unevenness caused by the bowed board.


Here are photos of the top after the initial flattening.  There is a little tear out that I will have to try to plane or scrape away.  The first photo also includes the storey stick I am using.


And finally, here is a photo of the top showing the grain pattern of the wood.  I think it will turn out really nice.IMAGE_779  

I hope to make some more progress on the tables during the next few weeks, and I will update the blog as I do; I just don’t know how much shop time I will have.

Until then. . .

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. . .