Thursday, December 26, 2013

18th century?

Among a bunch of old wooden planes I spotted the tell tale signs of 18th century Dutch moulding planes. The typical decorative gouge and chisel cuts on the front of the planes are quite short on the old ones and a lot longer on the 19th century planes. These planes are otherwise also old fashioned. The cutout in front of the blade on top of the plane is very deep and well defined. The later ones are usually quite mellow. The planes are made from beech which is exactly radial, also a sign of the better quality back in the days. And last but not least, the irons are thin, only 3mm near the cutting edge. Later ones are 4 to 4.5 mm thick.

But, I can't be sure because there is no makers mark. The only mark is PDO, which looks more like an owners mark to me. The mark doesn't look very old either.

If someone knows more about PDO, feel free to add a comment.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Plow planes

My new German plow is a nice excuse to show off my small collection of plow planes (Veerploeg in Dutch).

From the left, first the metal ones. A Stanley #50 was my first plow plane. Works perfectly allright, but with the two skates it is a bit more work to set up then the Record 044, which comes next. That one is probably one off the best metal plow planes ever produced. Easy to use, foolproof I'd say.

Next is the English wooden plane, made by Moseley. I dearly love wooden planes, but just to be honest, they have a learning curve! And they often need restauration work. Mine works fine, except the fence is not parallel to the skate. I'm not sure yet how to solve that. Just planing the fence until it is square is probably the easiest, but maybe it doesn't look so hot when I expose a fresh piece of beech. Setting up the plane with the wedges is not so easy as the metal ones, but as soon as it gets going, nothing is going to stop it!

Then comes the German plow, allready presented in the previous post. And finally on the right my Dutch one. This is made in 1847. It is a typical 18th century design, but produced some time later. Mine is very beautifull, but lives in the house and not in the workshop. It doesn't really work. The iron I have fits really badly and to make it fit I should make quite a bit of changes to the skate, the bedding of the iron and wedge. I don't really want to do that, so I leave it as it is, a conversation piece.

So far my little collection. I think that I have enough now. Collecting plowplanes takes up a lot of space as you can see in the first picture. And I think I now have most types covered. Only a Japanese plow fails.

Friday, December 20, 2013

German Plow

Not much time for the man-cave in the past few weeks, but here is a "new" aquisition. A plowplane from Germany with their typical screwarms for the fence. There is no brand name on the plane itself, but the iron is marked J.P. Arns, a well known smith in Remscheid. This town, close to Wuppertal has allways been the centre of German edgetool and cutlery making.

There were a few problems with the plow. The most obvious was the iron with a shattered edge. It has probably fallen on a stone floor at some time, with the damage extending way down the face of the blade. So I had to grind back about half a cm and regrind the bevel to get a sharp edge again.

Another problem is that the screwarms are loose in the main body of the plane. You can see them sticking out in the above picture. The square ends of the arms should be more or less flush with the body. For now I have pushed them back, but coming weekend when I have the shop heated up a bit I will glue them again.

Other problems were with the skates. A plow like this doesn't really have a sole, but a skate running from the front to the back, interrupted by the mouth for the plane iron. The front and rear skate were not in line, as you can see in this picture.

The plane has probably warped a little bit over the years. So I removed the skates and used a rabbet plane to straighten the wood under them. In itself this isn't a problem, because the iron is wider then the skates and a misallignment doesn't hurt when making a groove. But it makes setting the fence parallel to the skates more difficult.

The last problem was another misallignment of the skates as seen in this picture. You can see that the straightedge doesn't touch the front skate. The rear one has shifted down. This makes the plane impossible to use. It either bites into the wood or doesn't take a shaving at all.

 I used a file to correct this problem, but made a mistake there. After filing they looked perfectly alligned again, but as soon as I installed the iron, the rear skate was pushed down under the wedge pressure again. The screws of the rear skate were too loose and couldn't be tightened enough. I had to get some larger ones. Luckily the home centre had some. I just had to file down the heads of the screws so they wouldn't protrude. Now the skate is firmly attached again and doesn't move under pressure anymore. The rear skate is now actually a bit too high, but that doesn't harm performance.

And now she is all up and running again. I only have one iron, but at 8 mm it is a usefull size. She works perfectly well. The screwarms make her easy to adjust. There is no depth stop, so you have to stop from time to time and meassure how deep the groove is. I like to take medium thick shavings. You can take much thicker ones with a plane like this, but it helps to keep everything in the right position while planing when you don't have to push with all your might. Here is a test cut in a piece of wallnut.

Monday, December 2, 2013

New saw is finished

Now I have to start a photography course. Making pictures is a lot more difficult. I went outside, but the camera wanted to use the flash all the time. So sorry for the bad pics, but here is the saw. Some data, this is a copy from a big Kenyon saw. Mine is 18" long, 10 ppi, 3 degree rake. It has a steel back, which has been blued. Handle is quarter sawn beech again.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A small chest

A present for friends. Made from Cherry with a bit of curl and handcut dovetails of course. the mouldings are made by machine, I really have to get my moulding planes up and running.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

And slowly ripening

This is ridiculous fun. Carving a lamstongue. All done with a sharp chisel, without any training in carving ever. So I'm just winging it. It's far from finished of course.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Something is brewing again

This week I started work on a new saw. Steel back this time. What a bear to work! I still have some 0.6 mm springsteel plate, so this is what I came up with, so far. Lots of work still to do.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New smithing tools

Today I acquired a nice chunck of steel and a larger hammer for my saw smithing adventures. It's all quite a bit larger then the old setup, as can be seen in the picture. Old stuff on the right, the new plate with whacker on the left. And all that for the pricely sum of 10 euro. :-)

Now I really must clean up this metal workers bench!

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Finishing the saw

After drilling the holes and finetuning them to a perfect fit, I polished up the metal parts for the last time and assembled the saw. My splitnut driver has given up the ghost so it was time to make a new one. A real sturdy one this time. I bought a screwdriver and cut an opening with the anglegrinder. That's how I like my tools, quick and dirty.

Because the sawscrews are a tight fit, I literally hammer them into the handle. Trying to draw them in with the nut doesn't work, only damages the threads. The screws and nuts are now protruding a bit above the wood, so I file them flush and rub everything down on a sheet of sanding paper.

And then after cleaning everything carefully and oiling the handle a couple of times, here's a peek view of how it turns out. I'll make some better pictures outside when it's light again.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Slowly the saw is aproaching its finish. Tonight I drilled the screwholes. After deliberating about the best position, as far apart as possible without interfering with the sawback or the chamfers, I drilled a very thin drillbit through and through. This is my pilot hole for all further bits. Starting with an 11 mm one for the screwhead. Then 6 mm for the square shank and then 4 mm for the threaded part of the screw. Then turning the handle over and do the same from the other side. The pilot hole is essential to get both sides in line with each other.

I make the square hole with a small chisel. Fist removing a bit of wood. Then hammering the screw into the hole, so it marks its own hole. Remove the squashed bits and repeat until I have a nice tight fit.

Tomorrow I'll drill the sawblade with a HSS-cobalt bit which works a lot better then a normal HSS bit in springsteel.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Handle making, the easy bit.

And now for the fun part. Shaping with rasps and files, lots of sanding, looking and correcting. This is like sculpting for me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Problem solved!

Like I wrote yesterday, I had a small problem. As soon as I put a clamp on the cheeks of the sawhandle, it would bow the end of the sawblade a little bit. Not enough to really worry about, especially as you never use that bit of the sawblade under the handle. But it bugged me nonetheless. First I thought I had the mortice off kilter, but inspection showed no troubles there. Then I looked very closely at the blade groove, whitout a clamp yet,  and saw this. On one side it was tight against the blade, at the other side there was room. I used an offcut from the blade as a scraper and scraped away a bit of wood, inside the groove. Problem solved!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Handle, the difficult bits.

Today I started the handle making. I glued the template on the piece of beech. Then drilled out the narrow curves with some forstner bits.

I used my bowsaw to cut the rest of the curves. BTW, this is not an easy saw to master, but I'm learning. After sawing, most cuts will be skewed a bit from front to back of the handle blank, so I square everything up with a rasp.

To cut the blade slot I use the trick with another saw, clamped upon a bit of wood, half the width of the sawhandle. This lets you cut a groove very accurately.

I finish the cut with handle clamped in the vise. It's now pretty easy with the groove allready started.

Then the next difficult bit, chopping out the mortice for the sawback. I mark it with the back in situ. Then drill a hole in the bottom and start removing wood with narrow chisels. Very carefully, slowly widening and deepening until I am happy with the fit.

And then it's time to see if everything is still straight. Luckily the groove for the blade is perfect. But the blade is bend a minimal amount below the handle. So I suppose the back isn't 100% correctly fitted yet. I'll sleep on it to see what I will do about this.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


After a busy week at work, I finally have some time again to continue with the project. I've decide to make one prototype first. And because I allready have an 18 ppi saw, I make this one at 14 ppi.

Setup is very simple. Two battens with two clamping screws, and all that clamped in the  machinist vise. A wooden rake block, to help me getting consistent rake angles. And a pattern glued to the edge of my "sawvise". First I give a single stroke for each gullet, then slowly deepen it, all the while watching how the teeth emerge equally.

When the teeth are ready I set them with an Eclipse 77. I modified this one slightly for such small teeth. Grinded the round anvil down a bit to reduce the amount of set, and made the hammer narrower. I mark every other tooth to avoid confusion.

After setting I joint the teeth once again and go for the most perfect teeth I'm capable of. This is the setup I like to use, just one spotlight to get the exact right amount of reflection.

And this what I see. Sharp teeth on the far right, while the teeth on the left are still reflecting light from their flat tops.

And the result, as far as I can capture them with an Iphone.

Monday, October 28, 2013


At long last, the marriage of spine and sawblade. After carefully filing all the burs from the edge of the sawblade, I set the spine in a groove in a block of wood. Then working from one end to the other, I insert the blade in the spine with a very hard rubber mallet. You have to give some serious blows to get it in, so don't be scared.

I didn't get them all to the same depth. While hammering you can see how the blade curves or stretches, depending on where you hit it. Often hitting it at the outer ends tends to straighten the blade. I stopped when the blade was deep enough and reasonably straight.

Then on to some finetuning. I had to reposition one of the sawblades in the spine (it was too much forward), like this.

To get the toothline really straight, I had to do some very carefull bending. Despite the hamfisted look of this picture, it's actually very precise.

Checking for twist in the blade.

And readjusting where neccessary. One end clamped in the vise. The other end is torqued with a clamp. I could also have used a crescent wrench or something similar, but this doesn't leave ugly marks on the brass.

And this is the harvest. I am very happy so far. This has been a major breakthrough in the project. I'll have to do some more sanding, but that's OK. Next step is filing some teeth.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Grinding brass

After a few days with other jobs, I found some time to continue working on the saws again. Grinding is the job at hand. Like I wrote last time, I use a handheld sander upside down in the vise. It's far from ideal, but it works. Here is one of the sawbacks where I was still learning the hammering technique, so it is full of dents. But I have 3 mm of brass and a 60 grit belt, so it is no problem.

The chamfers are also made on the sander. I just hold them at roughly 45 degrees and that works very well. I spend all afternoon working up the grits, from 60 to 240. I made the round nose and also a nice chamfer along its edge with files and sandpaper.

Above 240 grit it's time for handwork. 400 and 600 grit, with a sanding block.

And that's where I am now. Maybe I'll polish them up a bit with steelwool later. It looks like I have now arrived at the point where other home sawmakers usually start, when they buy the parts from a supplier. I have a steel plate, a back and some splitnuts. Time to do some assembly and look at the wooden part of this business.