From the Workshop

April 25, 2012

Window to my Workshop 62

Filed under: Window to my workshop — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 12:30 pm

Continuation from Blog 61

 
 


 
Now I have two flat sides the edges can be milled bringing them to width, leaving a couple of thou for surface grinding. This means that the edges will be perfectly square and will form an invisible joint. It is important that when the plane body is assembled everything is flat and square – unlike dovetailing which incurs a lot of stress from peining.
 
 

 
The rounding on the ends, a task easily carried out on the CNC mill.
 
 


 
This is the drilling for the 3 x 6mm purpose made bolts to fix the rear handle chair. I need to make some more of the bolts so will document them later on.
 
 

 
These three holes for the rear handle are then reamed (which I think is the correct word and not countersunk). This is done with a 40 deg tapered mill which will match the heads on the bolts. With this angle you get a good retention and pressure for some deformation, resulting in that invisible joint.
 
 

 


 
These are the fixing holes for the front bun using the same drilling and reaming operation as previously described. This time these holes are drilled at a 15 deg angle and indexed with 120 deg spacing. The CNC mill is particularly useful for indexing and convenient as I am drilling on a gradient.
 
 

 
The fixing holes for the sides. There are a total of 11 x 5mm holes per edge. As the holes are not drilled on the centre line they need to be mirrored. The picture shows my set up using a second vice for the mirror holes. To achieve this many holes without a CNC mill would be very stressful and time
 
 

 
My Semco vertical milling machine which is an exact Chinese copy of a Bridgeport. It is fitted with an Anilam Wizard 211 DRO. I have had it a for quite some years now and it serves me well.
 
 

 
It is a pity that my CNC mill does not do tapping. So the plane bottoms had to be set up on the manual mill. However, with the aid of the DRO and an automatic tapping head the tapping of the holes is carried out to standard and in a timely manner. There are a few cheap tapping heads on the market but I would go for a Tapmatic every time, worth its money.

April 17, 2012

Window to my workshop 61

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).
 
 
The Milling
 


 

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.

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.
 
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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.
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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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November 1, 2011

Window to my workshop 58

Filed under: No 10 smoother/mitre,Window to my workshop — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 12:27 pm

The work has started on the stainless steel bottoms of these No 10 smoother/mitres. This will probably be the only batch of infill planes I will make using stainless steel. This particular batch is 304 which was cropped from a sheet. The problem with this is the bruised edges have work hardened to the point that nothing will break through the hard skin which has been generated from the use of a break press. Never the less I am committed to progress now.

I do plan to use stainless steel on my non-infill planes in future for the obvious advantages. However with infill planes some of the metal has to be worked dry after the infill is fitted as I cannot use coolant. I am not happy working stainless without the use of coolant. Stainless steel is a complex alloy, any cutting needs to be done with the correct surface speed and it also benefits from some cooling and lubrication.

A little anecdote:

Many years ago I spent a short amount of time gliding. The club that I was flying with were using some fairly old gliders that had a wooden skid which was more suitable for landing on grass. Most of the landings at this airfield were done on concrete. This meant that they were fixing steel strips to the undersides of the skids to take up some of the wear. Unfortunately these didn’t wear too well and it was constant work fitting new strips. Upon my suggestion we replaced these strips with a stainless steel plate, preformed to the curvature of the skid, expecting to achieve a longer life. This was certainly fulfilled.

Unfortunately there was a slight side effect. Because of the problems from abrasions on landing and a high surface speed it created a considerable amount of hardening. Causing the stainless  to repel anything when there is a high surface speed.

 Those who have ever flown this type of glider knows that it was useful to press down on the front of the gilder using the skid as a brake, as the brakes never worked well  but to use the skid as a brake is bad form and bad for the skid. With the stainless steel on the skid the  effect was like landing on ice!  The club’s no 1 instructor, who was forever moaning about using the skids as brakes, overshot on his first landing with the new skids and got into an argument with some barb wire and a hedge. The club rapidly decided to do something about their poor brakes.

 
 

Face milling the bottom blank.
 

 

Showing the extremely rigid clamping fixture to ensure repeatability and regular thickness of this plane bottom.  This is a lot more complicated than surface grinding.
 
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October 24, 2011

Window to my workshop 57

Showing the continuing work to this non-adjuster blade. 
 

Work on the blades recommences now that they are back from hardening. 

This picture shows one of the many grinding operations.
 

Even the snecks have to be ground on one surface before they are assembled.
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October 17, 2011

Window to my workshop 55

No 10 smoother/mitre

A very patient customer asked me to make a small mitre plane. He wanted a 11/4” wide blade to be bedded at 25 deg and bevel up with a short body. No adjuster was required.

I would classify this plane as a smoother/mitre. The small mitre plane has always seemed to be surprisingly scarce for its usefulness. Having got my simple sketch approved the first batch is now well on the way (the sketch can be seen on the website here http://www.holteyplanes.com/).

It is a combined stainless steel bottom with naval brass dovetailed sides and brass lever cap and thumb screw. The blade is in my A2 original specification and has a top sneck. The length of the plane is 43/4“.

Despite its apparent austerity there will be no lacking in specification and quality. The designation will be No.10. Delivery will be end of November 2011.

What better place to start than the blades.  Here are the A2 blanks being drilled and shaped.  These are now away being heat treated (the only work to be done out of house).
 


 

Brass sides have been cut from sheet and trued up into rectangular blanks. 
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August 9, 2011

Window to my workshop 53

Adjuster components for A6
 

This item is most commonly known as the banjo and it is the most work intensive component in the whole plane.  This picture shows that it comes out of a round bar.
 


 


 

 There is a lot of preparation but this is not a step by step instruction manual, it is just a few snapshots.  In these pictures, after lots of preparation I start to ball generate the round part of this component. 
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August 2, 2011

Window to my workshop 52

A6 Part 2

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All of the woodworking has its edges squared up on the milling machine as I have a bit more confidence in this machine than I do a planer.

 

A pair of infill sides being drilled for riveting spacers. At this stage all edges are trued up

 

This is the infill side with the spacers pressed through the handle testing for fit. The two sides have yet to be separated.

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July 31, 2011

Window to my workshop 51

The last batch of A6 planes part 1

After receiving a commission for an A6 smoother I decided to make a batch of six. The A6 is probably the most time consuming of the infill planes (well perhaps the A7 is worse!). When using the designation A6 one should realise that my A6 is not to be compared with the Norris or any other plane of this type – it is made to a higher precision and has some innovations not seen in the original. This standard is beyond the scope of those without a tool room; I am not aware of any comparison. I work from a reasonably equipped tool room; not a production line. All work is done in house with the exception of heat treatment for the blades.

Although this model has been blogged before I am running it through again as this A6 is just that little bit more special. I always try to make the current plane better than the preceding one. Also these will be the very last Holtey A6 planes. For all my innovations and upgrades my work is veiled by the Norris history and I feel it is time to move on.

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The first part of starting the plane is to get the timber chosen and prepared so giving the wood some time to settle whilst making a start on the metal work.
 

Here is a stunning piece of Cocobolo (Dalbergia Retusa) which was cut from a very nice log that I acquired from Timber Line a couple of years ago – thanks to a friend who spotted it on a visit there. This is the basic roughing out for the infill components.
 


 

With the wood put aside to rest, a good starting point is the blades as they need to be sent away for the heat treatment. This shows the milling of the faceted end and slot.
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