From the Workshop

November 2, 2015

Window to my workshop 98

Filed under: No 984 — Tags: , , , — admin @ 5:41 pm

The pictures don’t do justice to the time spent on every little operation. Although I have taken many photographs along the way I don’t have time to document every little stage. The effort for every detail can seem a bit over the top, and I make little revisions all the time – the overall design will still be as the posted line drawing.

This is a nail biting moment, once I start cutting there is no going back. I can take hours double checking before I separate the toe from the the rest of the sole.


Holtey No 984 pic 7

Here I am milling the blade bed. The rest of this operation hasn’t been photographed as I covered this in the No 983 blog and it is almost identical as are the adjuster recesses. You can see that the work holding vice jaws are purpose made just for this plane. This enables me to get a firm grip.

Holtey No 984 pic 8



Holtey No 984 pic 9

All my buns start off as a true square block. All drilling, tapping and recessing is carried out on the mill

Holtey No 984 pic 10


Holtey No 984 pic 11

The bush shown here is to be epoxied into the front bun. You can use some imagination as to how I arrived here. The combined strength of the bush and its bun is considerable. Note there are two flats which make it impossible to remove the bush once the epoxy has cured.

Holtey No 984 pic 12

This is the milling operation for the five integral pins/rivets to the bun boss.
Holtey No 984 pic 13

This is the finished boss for the front bun. I have chosen this method of fixing for its strength. I wasn’t happy about tapping blind holes. Who cares, it is not about cost :-) It is going to be the only one of its kind.

Holtey No 984 pic 14

Illustrating the fitting of the bush to the bun and the threaded nose to fit the finished bun to its boss.

Holtey No 984 pic 15

Once this is complete, the bun can be removed and the boss is ready to rivet in place. Note that I used a V joint between the boss and the knob base. The knobs will leave my workshop perfect but the rotary position of the knob can have a tendency to migrate and wood can lose its concentricity over time. Also when the knob is removed and refitted the sharp edges can be bumped, thus losing the desired effect. The V joint will hide any of these unsightly dinks.

Holtey No 984 pic 16

Temporarily assembled plane.

A general selection of knobs and parts.

Holtey No 984 pic 17

Holtey No 984 pic 18
Holtey No 984 pic 19


Still a long way to go, sorry to those who have a plane on order.

Thought this was worth a picture and mention. The bushing here had been cemented with epoxy and I had started it with a few threads and then I was distracted ………

I discovered how strong this system is when I came back the next day. I will keep this as a reminder.

No 984 cockup

March 3, 2015

Window to my workshop 88

Filed under: A28 — Tags: , , , — admin @ 10:33 am

Chariot Plane

I find that I try to avoid using the term A28 because there is a lot more here than on the original A28 plane. These six are the last I will make as the cost of making is too high.

One of the original A28 Norris planes was sold at David Stanley’s auction Sept 2014 for £8,000 (+ commissions). In the light of this my price of £4,800 is very reasonable, especially as my plane is far superior in quality and construction. Who knows what these will be worth when I am gone.

CI3A1076 - Copy

There are some who would think that because this is cut out with a CNC mill there is no work here, to them I say “make one” :-) There was a lot of work to get here and still a long way to go. (all finished now – look out for the next project).

January 16, 2015

Window to my Workshop 83

Filed under: A28 — Tags: , , , — admin @ 3:12 pm

Progress on my A28 Chariot Plane

Holtey A28

This picture shows some idea of all the work that goes into this plane. Unless you have done it yourself you can never imagine the effort and thought that goes into making this Chariot. This plane is made to a standard light years beyond its original counterpart made by Norris.

November 5, 2014

Window to my workshop 82

Filed under: A28,Chariot Plane,Window to my workshop — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 11:33 am

During the working of this A28 plane I have been neglecting this blog but now I am ready to update which I will do over the next few weeks.
Holtey A28 f
All the sections I use are cut out of stock material and brought down to size, by sawing and milling.
Holtey A28 g
As most of my working and setting out depends on a high degree of precision (which has never existed before) surface grinding in the early stages allows me to achieve my goals.
Holtey A28 h
This picture shows the edges being ground. This is also important to have a true pinch dimension. I need this for the dovetailing.
Holtey A28 b
Jigs and work holding fixtures are also all made to precision. After much preparation work to the brass, similar to the steel work as described. Then rivet positions are drilled and I am able to screw these sides with purpose made bolts to the fixture for profiling and chamfering.

Holtey A28 c
After routing out the profile then the chamfering is completed whilst the sides are still jigged.
Holtey A28 d
Just overall set up pictures.
Holtey A28 e

Holtey A28 a
Here are the some sides already milled and some pre-prepared waiting for profiling.

September 1, 2014

Window to my Workshop 81

Filed under: A28,Chariot Plane,Window to my workshop — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 2:52 pm

This Chariot is the last item in the series of low angle planes I have been making recently. I have only made a few of these planes and that was a long time ago in my early days of plane making. Then my side profiles were cut by hand and I made up a template which I would scribe round. Now that I CNC these the machine can’t see my template so I have had to re-draw it showing co-ordinates to write a programme from.

This line drawing by today’s standards might look a bit primitive but I have never had the leisure to learn to use a CAD. With a drawing showing contours I can write this in to my control unit. Drawing contours is more instinct than anything and I just know when it is right however long it takes (I would be ashamed to tell you how long these ones took).

Holtey Chariot Plane - Copy

April 30, 2014

window to my workshop 77

Filed under: A27 Bullnose,Window to my workshop — Tags: , , , — admin @ 10:53 am

Back working on the Bullnose after so much downtime with the grinding machine maintenance:


A27 Bullnose Holtey 1
A27 Bullnose Holtey 2
Pictures 1 – 4
This is the cast iron infill for the Bullnose. As you can see this is a complex shape so I will let the pictures speak for themselves. As with most things I design and make I go places that have never been visited, making these planes very unique.
A27 Bullnose Holtey 3
A27 Bullnose Holtey 4


A27 Bullnose Holtey 6

This shows the pin side of the dovetails being milled.

A27 Bullnose Holtey 5


Rebating the tops of the dovetail area, which provides a light stop and gives the dovetails a better form. Again this system is unique to my planes.

February 6, 2013

Window to my Workshop 66

I thought it about time I wrote some more in my blog. Looking back on my past entries I notice that there are some gaps which I intend filling here.


At the beginning of any project the metal is a good place to start (after design and drawings are done of course). In all my classic designs I use mild steel – I have tried it in several different forms; hot rolled (which is very good and has little stress in but comes with a lot of scale to deal with), BMS (which is nice and clean but has a lot of stress in it), sheet metal (which still has a difficult scale to deal with and some stress). Stainless steel would be my favourite choice, but not on the classic type of planes. I therefore choose mild steel as this is a nice ductile material once the stress problems have been dealt with. To relief the stress I have to cut it to manageable sizes and send it off for heat treatment. This picture shows the material in two stages – after heat treatment and some after surface grinding.


As you can see from the picture my grinding machine is a Jones and Shipman 1430. It was made in the ‘60s and it has been reconditioned by Andmar who are more ‘Jones and Shipman’ than the company themselves. It has been the main stay of my workshop since I purchased it 10 years ago as all my work including tool making passes through here. That is every jig and every piece of work holding (as well as plane components). It sets the standard for all my work.


This surface grinder uses a 24” x 12” Eclipse magnetic chuck which needs re-surfacing every 12 months. This can take up the best part of a day. The nice true surface is so good I just had to photograph it (sad isn’t it!).


My current project is A1 14 ½” Panel planes. I have documented this before (use this link so I am just putting a few pictures to look at.



November 8, 2012

Window to my workshop 65

Filed under: A31 Thumb plane,Window to my workshop — Tags: , , , — admin @ 2:03 pm

These Thumb planes are now finished but I didn’t have time to blog it. However the techniques are the same as on all my other planes.

They are available in Cocobolo, African Black Wood and Boxwood at £3,750 (+ vat if applicable).

March 6, 2012

Window to my Workshop 60

Was it really Christmas Eve since I last blogged!!!!!!

The first batch of planes are now finished, they were not easy but it hasn’t taken me 10 solid weeks to get this far.

I seem to have landed here without any pictures of separating the bottoms into front and rear. This picture now shows the beds being milled. There is a surprising amount of material to move and has cost me a considerable amount in tooling. Stainless steel does have its disadvantages.

The front end of the bottom. There are two operations here. The first one is to machine the angle for the front end of the mouth then a small rebate is machined to catch the sides of the mouth from the rear section. This will lend a desirable amount of support, especially when it comes to peining the dovetails otherwise this part of the dovetail will cave into the mouth. It also provides additional rigidity to the plane body because any stresses could force the two halves of the plane to jiggle. It doesn’t sound very technical but it is descriptive. It could show a step where the front and the rear of the bottom join. Of course we are only talking very small amounts here (+/- 2 thou).

Something that always amuses me on the traditional mitres is the tongue and groove joint. This does absolutely nothing.

December 24, 2011

Window to my workshop 59

Mistakes – what is a mistake?
There are those that will always deny making mistakes and there are those that can keep smiling when they have made one as they have thought of someone to blame it on. So many projects can go off course along their journey, or find that the goalposts have been moved. Those with the creative thinking processes, for good or bad, can always find a solution; then only count its merits.
In the case of the No 10 plane, and its simplicity, there seemed nowhere to go wrong, but to be 100% sound in my mind I need to alter some of its dimensions. Having slept on it I have decided it is folly to rescue anything I am not completely happy with. This doesn’t sound much – just need to remake the sides and procure some new infill material. I have come too far now to take any risks. Reputations can’t be compromised. Luckily I haven’t had to use the reject bin too much over the years – it is due to put on weight.
Apologies to those waiting for their planes but as you can see from the blog below there is still steady progress.
In the making of my planes I rely quite a lot on a manual mill. So far throughout the making of these planes the machine has been in constant use.

There is a lot to be said for a good quality manual mill with a DRO. The skill is in setting up and operating these machines and along with essential hand working I am able to achieve standards that are impossible to achieve with hand work alone. In my cabinet making and joinery days there was always a division between machinists and hand workers. Why? I have always wanted to be involved in every aspect of the project from initial thought to the finished item. This is why I never outsource any of my work.

For some reason I have never looked forward to doing this stage of the work in stainless steel in spite of all the experience I gained with the No 98. With a good plan of attack stainless steel will lend itself to quite a lot of cutting and manipulation. There are some that shake at the knees at the mention of stainless steel. This picture shows the first stage of roughing out for the dovetails and in the following picture it shows the milling in the final stage with a forming tool. Note that the bottoms having the compound dovetail so they are made in mirrored pairs to simplify things.


Dovetails finished with all the mess cleaned away.

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