The surface grinder has been the busiest machine in my workshop for the past few years. All my sections, after size adjustments in the milling machine, are precisely ground all round. The same with all the tooling and work holding I make. This is necessary to get a good reference throughout all my work.
These are the bottoms being ground on their edges insuring that they are square and parallel. It is not often I use a flash but it is nice how everything has been frozen in time.
I have also been busy during this time with the blades. The blades are being profiled in ‘Siamese pairs’ for easier work holding. These have already been stamped with the HOLTEY logo in the fly press, I do this first as the edges close to the stamping area can become distorted.
After the blades are separated they need to have a bevel milled on and the chamfers polished before sending them away for heat treatment. The polishing to the chamfers is important as it would be very hard to do after the blades had been hardened. When the blades come back from the heat treatment I will be surface grinding them all round.
Final tweaking and polishing before assembly
Once assembled there is no access
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).
One of the problems of making precision planes is needing your own tool room. This means that on occasions maintenance is necessary.
A simple task like cleaning my coolant tank got so complicated that two weeks went passed before I could get the grinding machine back in service again.
My schedule is now running late and I am looking forward to getting back to working on planes again.
As this lever cap has taken a very long time to make I thought this picture, of it not even half way completed, tells some of the story. The milling, grinding and polishing has to done in sequence to achieve the finish I require. It will be a complex shape when completed.
Continuation of the last batch of No 982 planes
There are two reasons that I use the surface grinder a lot; the main one is for the precision and also for the nice textured finish. This usually means that I visit the surface grinder several times during the working of the plane as no matter how careful I handle the work pieces they seem to break out in a ‘workshop’ rash very quickly.
This picture here is the sides being ground true after the drilling and tapping. This also leaves the bottoms a true uniformed width and square.
Of course the time comes when the toe of the plane needs to be separated from the rear end. I can lose a lot of sleep here as mistakes are so easy. Any mistakes here will cost me dearly.
With the front and back ends of the bottom now separated each part is then milled to size and angle.
All my marks are stamped with my fly press which I couldn’t exist without. The No 982 plane is stamped with an edition and its number, the plane type is stamped on the front end of the bottom (just behind the bun). The HOLTEY logo is stamped on the inside of the right hand side of the plane.
The 55 deg milled bed is surface ground maintaining the angle to precision. This picture may be a little blurred but I wanted to catch the sparks.
Now the front end. I use two angles here. The one being ground here is the critical one because this is going to be the mouth of the plane. This is in a similar tradition to some of the wooden planes and is much easier to regulate a small aperture as desired by some.
This angle here helps to provide a better means of escape for the shavings and access for cleaning. The grinding here is mainly cosmetic.
What is a plane maker’s workshop?
When I first started making planes and was putting together a workshop with a very small budget, I had no idea what form the workshop was going to take – and I still don’t. I started with just a small Tom Senior milling machine, a 5” Raglan screw cutting lathe and a Fobco drill press. Looking back I can see that not only have I come a long way in improving my workshop but also in build and quality of my work. From the start I have always striven to make each plane better than the last. Although I have already covered the subject of my No 982 smoother plane elsewhere on the blog I thought that since I am currently working on the last batch (this plane is limited to 16 of each type, with and without brass cones) I would take the opportunity to described my workshop and some of the machines in it.
Jaespa W220DG Saw
In the beginning I was cutting everything by hand and didn’t even have a wood machine. It was a quantum leap just to get an ordinary band saw. After buying a pull down saw I found it unsuitable as it meant I had to be in attendance full time with the machine to pull down on the handle. I replaced it very rapidly with this Jaespa bow saw. It is the best friend any workshop could have. Very little gets passed this machine.
Here I am taking advantage of the 10 x 10” capacity to reduce the width of a pre-cut bar from my stock for the No 982 bottoms. This machine has a gravity feed controlled by a hydraulic valve which means that in the case of heavy workloads I don’t need to stand with the machine. This allows me to run more than one machine at a time (on occasions several machines).
In the foreground is my workhorse. A Bridgeport Series II Interact 2, which must be 20 years old and like me, is showing its age. This was one of the early CNC mills controlled by an Heidenhain TNC 151 (by today’s standard it is an abacus). A replacement for this machine would cost a very nice new car.
As you will see throughout all my blogs I use it for many operations and here I am using it to mill and de-scale this hot rolled bar which is to be used for the No 982 bottoms.
This machine is my only experience in programming and it has taken me a long time to reach some proficiency. I wouldn’t want to replace this machine with a VMC but I would like a nice open style bed mill with an Heidenhain control (in my dreams).
Although my current machine performs many tasks it is still limited (in scope but not in work quality) and I sometimes find things easier to do on my manual mill. I have also become very dependent on DROs and no longer trust vernier readings.
It is such a wide range of work that this CNC mill does I no longer want to do my work without it. As much as I might want a CNC lathe I would sooner update my current mill first.
Jones and Shipman 1430 semi automatic surface grinder
Up until 9 years ago I outsourced the grinding for my blades and it was my experience that outsourcing is fraught with problems. I was extremely fortunate to find a machine of this quality which allowed me to do the grinding myself and enabling me to keep everything in house. The machine was originally made in the 1960’s but had just been rebuilt by Andmar (who work very closely with Jones and Shipman to achieve the good build quality). This machine has a good 2’ x 1’ chuck and it has proved very useful for much more than just blades. I have also become very dependent on it for tool making, as I make all my own tools and work holding jigs. In short, this machine has improved the standard of accuracy to everything that is made in my workshop.
All the bottoms and sides of my No 98 series planes are ground on all sides and again after assembly for the final finish.