New Veritas Plane

If you have ever been tempted by a Veritas plane – the quality machining, the fine cut, the aesthetic look of polished metal and black finish but couldn’t afford the limited edition planes, then this may be the one for you.

It is a low angle block plane, and turns a curl exactly as you’d hope.

plane

I refer to a small selection of tools as being apron tools – those you live with in your shop apron, ready at a moment’s notice.  This plane is more of a pocket plane, but perhaps not quite for the reason you’d expect.  But you’ll see why I think that in a sec.

curls-1

Before going further, just check out the quality of the shavings, and the thinness. You can see the colours through even where it is, and if you held the shaving over a book, the text can be read easily.

curls-2

Not sure if I have ever used the word wispy on this site before, ever. 1 million words, and this the first use of wispy, but that is about the best description of these shavings.  If you drop one, it takes forever to hit the bench.

The other interesting thing about this plane, is you can get it into places where many others cannot reach, due to a relatively unique feature.  A picture tells a thousand words, so guess this next one is the best way to describe that feature.

mini-1

Heh – sorry.  Yes, it is a miniature of their block plane.  A perfectly functional miniature block plane.

plane2

05p8220s6 05p8211s2

Part of the range of miniature planes from Veritas.  I have the shoulder plane as well – haven’t seen the edge plane or router plane before.  Would make a cool set.

The price of the block plane isn’t $300, or $500 – the pricing around their full sized versions.  This one will cost you around $55.  As seen at Carbatec.

20110527-21481020110528-000932

 

Scratchin’ out a living

When you are used to using power tools and machines for your woodworking, it is easy to forget that sometimes a handtool is the best tool for the job.

They are quieter (much, much quieter), safer (although any sharp thing can cut), and often can get into places denied to power tools.   They also can have a different method for removing material. Where both can slice, only a handtool can scrape.  (Now I’m sure someone will tell me I’m wrong…..)

Scraping has its benefits.  It avoids tearout, as the blade is not parting material ahead of the blade – lifting and cutting.  Think of all the adverts on TV about shavers, where the blade lifts and cuts the hair.  If you are lifting timber, there is a chance more will lift than you intended, and tear out.  Scraping has the blade at a different angle of attack, with the cutting edge trailing behind, rather than leading the way.

Scraping is used in a number of hand tools.  For planing a surface with torturous grain (burls and the like), you can get planes with the blade set vertically for a scraping cut.  You can use scrapers (a piece of steel with a fine burr to perform the actual cut) as an alternative (and superior to) sandpaper.  And you can use a scratch stock as an alternative to a router.

It is a very simple tool – a piece of spring steel with the required profile cut into it.  And a holder.

You can make your own, or check out this one from Hock Tools (Ron Hock being very well known for the quality of his plane blades).

Hock Scratch Stock

This is available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies in Australia, who sell items from the Hock Tools’ range.  The body is made from a laminate of bamboo, which has good water resistance, and shape stability.  Instructions for using the scraper can be found here.

Where noone would consider manufacturing their own router bit, this comes with a second piece of tool steel so you have plenty of opportunity to create just the profile you want.

I came across an interesting concept while looking at these scratch stocks (and especially the supplied profile).  It used to be quite common for this profile to be used on the leading edge of a kitchen bench….underneath.  The purpose was as a drip arrestor.  Any liquid spilling and running over the edge would gather at the bottom of the curve of the profile and drip off, rather than continuing on its journey into one of the drawers (often the cutlery!)  Simple idea – pity it seems to be forgotten by modern kitchen manufacturers.

A very simple concept, a very simple tool, the ability to make your own profiles, and the ability to deliver that profile just where you need it, right out of reach of powered tools.

Saving some electrons

So I got a little motivated reading Schwarz – it sounds so easy, all this hand planing etc.

Got out the hand planes, and my DMT diamond whetstones, and sharpened my plane irons.  I used the camber roller on the Veritas Mk II to produce a slightly rounded front edge (according to Chris, this is good for Jack Planes for heavy stock removal).

DMT Diamond Stones

From left to right, the plates are the Extra-extra coarse, the extra coarse/coarse (double sided), the fine/extra fine (double sided) and the Extra-extra fine DMT whetstones.

The extra-extra coarse is a ripper – the rate of metal removal is impressive, and it takes next to no time to get the blade to the shape you want, even when it has been used for other purposes (opening paintcans is a pretty typical activity for an abused chisel!)

The extra-extra fine gives that mirror finish.  The other four grades allow you to work through each, as is good sharpening practice.  As much as I don’t mind the double-sided concept, I would really prefer to have each grade the same physical size as the larger two I have, and ideally single sided.  The cost is really in the diamonds, not the base material.

The larger size is ideal for something like the Veritas Honing Jig, especially with the larger plane blades I sharpen.

The other secret about diamond plates is they actually get better with use.  Yeah, weird, but it is a fact never the less.  DMT plates have very consistent diamond size – nothing like a rogue diamond to scratch the hell out of your otherwise finished blade edge, so a quality plate avoids that danger.

Camber Roller

You can’t see it in this photo (didn’t have the right lens with me) but there is now a very mild camber to this blade, stopping the corners from digging in while ripping off massive amounts of the surface of the timber.

I needed to clamp up the piece of Camphor Laurel I had chosen for the exercise, and needed some more dog holes.  While marking these up, I discovered just how warped the surface of my workbench was.  That might explain a few things I’d been experiencing.  Not sure what I will do about it (if anything).  Problem will be solved by making my own workbench (one day).

I chose the Camphor Laurel as it had been resawn with the chainsaw jig on the Torque Workcentre, and had quite significant ridging – a perfect candidate for a Jack Plane.

Ridging

Ignoring the step (this being the other side of the board fwiw), these were the ridges I wanted to see disappear.

Started off with the Jack Plane, and really couldn’t get anything happening.  Just isn’t right – something not working.  Then I remembered reading something in the Anarchist’s Tool Chest about Chris talking about using the Jack Plane across grain – the fibres being weaker in that direction.  Sure enough, that worked a treat, and great swaths of timber came flying off.

Shavings

From there, I moved onto the trying plane to create a flat surface.  With the long bed, it rides on top of the ridges so they get cut down until such time as you get full-length shavings. (These were performed with the grain, rather than across)

It was about this point that I was really discovering that hand tools are:

1. lubricated with perspiration (it is quite labour-intensive!)

2. more involved that you’d expect – a powered tool that takes 1000 cuts/minute (or more correctly 16000 – 40000 (2 flutes on a router bit running at 20000 RPM) is quite different to a blade skimming along the surface at a fixed attack angle.  You can get away (easily) with a (comparatively) blunt blade on a powered tool, whereas a hand tool needs to be razor-sharp.  Imagine how impressive a powered tool would be with the sharpness of a handtool.  Required motor power would be so much less, finish significantly high.

3.  slow, and take a lot of physical effort.  And quiet.  Power tools are noisy, and produce a lot of wood dust along with fine wood shavings (the result of thousands of tiny cuts, rather than one long cut).

Smoothing cuts

Then moved onto the smoothing plane.  This is quite a bit shorter, and is designed to take fine shaving cuts, leaving a smooth finish.  When properly tuned, the finish can be shiny, providing a mirror finish.

So I got a semblance of a result.  A bit too scalloped out of the middle – must have concentrated a bit much effort there.  Not sure whether it was harder than expected, but it does go to show that even if you are very proficient with powered tools, that knowledge does not readily transfer.  Gives one a real respect for those who live with handtools (or had no choice through the ages).

Need another woodshow so I can pick Terry Gordon’s brain about the basics again!  Using handtools to prepare a board – one of the new show demos for TWWWS 2013!  I’d sit in for that 🙂

The Anarchist

On yet another flight carrying me away from the shed, it proved the perfect opportunity to begin reading my new copy of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” by Chris Schwarz

Confronting book, because he starts off in the same place many of us are – a shed that is too small with many tools and jigs, and a shortage of space.

He then gets into tool purchases, and his many many MANY false avenues he has been down. He soon gets into one of his passions – hand tools, and particularly hand planes. As he described the standard collection of planes you wanted, I was rather buoyed to realise that by good fortune, or good planning, the HNT Gordon planes I had purchased so far over the years fitted neatly into the basic categories (I’d like to think good planning!)

Basic stock preparation: the Jack Plane

What I have:

HNT Gordon Aussie Jack Plane

Flattening stock and edging: The trying plane

What I have:

HNT Gordon Trying Plane

Smoothing the result, ready for finishing: The smoothing plane (eg Stanley #5)

What I have:

HNT Gordon Smoothing Plane

So simply, I have no excuse not to try these tools more, become reasonably proficient with them. Given I have a few blades, I may be able to choose one to put a slight camber on it for improved jack plane performance, but will check with Terry’s site before doing that.
I am sure there is a whole heap more that I will learn, or discover during the journey.

Rest assured, I don’t intend to become a hand tool fanatic, shunning power tools (I enjoy the machinery too much). Nor am I planning relocation of shed tools!

Veritas Miniature Shoulder Plane

20110527-213608.jpg

The Veritas Miniature Shoulder Plane is a stunning, tiny plane, that is still very functional (almost as an added bonus!) It is made from stainless steel, using the investment-cast process. It has a fixed mouth, with a machined sole and ground sides. A low 15° bed angle combined with the 25° blade bevel provides a 40° cutting angle.

The investment-cast process is a lost-wax casting process, where the original item is carved out of wax, from which a cast is made (and the wax is then melted out and “lost”). Into this mould, a ceramic copy is made. This is used to produce the future moulds, and is called the “investment”

20110527-214810.jpg

Does this make it a “palm plane”?

The plane is well designed, and can be used in catching and squaring up the small corners at the bottom of a dado.

Compared to a normal plane, it is significantly tiny!

20110527-215238.jpg

Available from Carbatec. You’ll have to ask for them at the counter – they are unlikely to be dumpred on the shelves – too small and desirable. Cost is around $35- not sure exactly.

And if you are thinking of joining the woodworking Mob, it makes for an essential fashion accessory 😉

20110528-000932.jpg

Topping it off

The top of the Torque Workcentre is sacrificial and occasionally requires replacement.  In the first instance, the most economic solution is to simply flip the top over to get twice as much use out of the sheet.  However, Torque Workcentres have come up with an upgrade that means it was worth me creating a new top to incorporate the additional functionality.

Starting with a full sheet of 16mm MDF, the TWC is also the ideal tool to begin breaking the sheet down.  The new design needed narrow strips of MDF, which is also a good thing when it comes time to replacing the top again, as only the sections damaged will need replacement.  Even if the amount of travel of your particular TWC isn’t long enough to cut the entire sheet in a single cut, it is easy to complete most of the cut with the saw passing through the sheet, then locking the arm position and finish by pushing the remainder of the sheet past the saw.

Even if you are only using the TWC to roughly break down a board, it still has it all over doing it by hand where the cut can end up quite wavy/offline.  Given I have the benefit of having a tablesaw, breaking the sheet down to near the final size, then running it through the tablesaw gave me the best of both.  I find a full sheet too unwieldy to easily run it through the tablesaw, so prefer to do an initia rough breakdown, then finish cutting accurately on the tablesaw.

Completing the cut before transfer to the tablesaw.

Given the length of the boards, I set up outfeed support – using the Triton Multistand.

For additional safety, again especially given the length of board, I set up a featherboard to help control the board as it was fed through the saw.  In this case, I’m using the latest from MagSwitch – a reversable featherboard that attaches to the universal base.  Something that we have been waiting for, for years.

To fit the channel (which is the new addition from Torque Workcentres), a slot cutting bit is used.  Now although I have a dedicated router table, I also have allowed myself the provision to transfer the router and base to the side of the tablesaw, so I can use the tablesaw fence.  To allow the bit to be enbedded in the fence, I use a section of aluminium to be an auxiliary fence.  It is attached to the main fence with a couple of wooden clamps.

The benefit of using the router as part of the tablesaw, is the fence – the tablesaw is designed to handle long lengths, so where that is the job, moving the router from one table to the other is a few seconds work.

It is a very easy job – with a slot cutting router bit, run a slot down either side of each section of the top.  Takes no time to set up and complete.

The slots then engage on the wings of the aluminium extruded channel.  In this case, I am attaching the new top directly onto the old.  It will mean the base is thicker, and means the top of the workcentre is now above the channel at the back, so if I run the circular saw (in crosscut) right through, it won’t cut up the rear channel.

The front edge got the usual treatment, using the mini roundover plane from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  It doesn’t wreck the line of the top, yet softens the edge, removing the sharp MDF edge that can go as far as inflicting a cut, so rounding the edge is an excellent solution on a number of levels.  This mini plane makes it so easy, and does an excellent job.

The channels are screwed down, holding most of the top in place without additional fixing.  For the outside lengths, a few screws up from underneath takes care of them.  I’ve left an extra amount of width for the front board to ensure the front track is well covered.  The tracks allow hold downs to be used where that is the most appropriate securing method.

I’m certainly not abandoning the Walko low profile, horizontal clamps at all – I just haven’t had time to redrill the required holes yet!

So once again, another small improvement to continue the development of the Torque Workcentre.

A New Bible

Bi·ble n. A book considered authoritative in its field

There are many, many (many, many, many!) books out there about aspects of woodworking.  Only a very few are worthy of being elevated to the point that they can be regarded as a bible in their selected field.

Ron Hock is one of “The” authorities on sharpening, blade making, and steel processes that makes his new book “The Perfect Edge” one that should not only be read cover to cover (multiple times), but owned and consulted regularly by any woodworker who is serious about his craft, and/or works with edged tools and/or likes their tools working at an optimum level.

The book is beautifully presented, and absolutely jam-packed with well presented information.

If I seem a bit enthusiastic about this book, you are right – I only flicked through a few pages of a friend’s copy before I was on Amazon, and have ordered my own.  (It is on special at the moment for $US19, yet this is a full sized, hardback, 224 page, colour book – great price!)

Ron Hock in brief summary, started off making carving knives.  His blades were so popular, he became highly sort after for his blades and steel, and so moved into making plane blades and associated chip breakers etc.  In recent times, he has returned to where he started, producing a set of carving knives (that have previously featured on this site).

But it is his in-depth knowledge of steel, and particularly where it is relevant to forming, and holding a razor-sharp edge which has been so well interpreted and translated into this tome.

The topics covered are very comprehensive, from the internal structure of steel, through heat treating, the science behind a sharp edge, through to how to achieve that for yourself.  Ron understands the metallurgy of steel, and it is presented in a style that will give you an insight into the topic, and why I have long been fascinated by it.

The book has over 400 photos, charts and illustrations, ensuring the points and concepts are well made, and understood.

This is the bible on sharpening (along with Lie-Nielsen’s Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Sharpening).  If you but remember a fraction of this book, and put it into practice, your tools will be deadly sharp, and a pleasure to use.

%d bloggers like this: