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 http://www.toolworkshop.co.uk/blogarchive/) so I am just putting a few pictures to look at.
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).
I have obtained some very exotic woods over the past few years but undoubtedly at ‘the top of the tree’ would be Zitan (pterocarpus santalinus), a much coveted wood by the Chinese. There is some more information on my website .
It has always been my intention to fill some of my small low angle planes with this very rare and valuable wood. I think this wood is unknown to most Westerners. I really want to use this in some very special editions. Normally the cost of materials is a small percentage of the price of a plane compared to the labour cost but these planes will have to be at a premium. In the scale of things it would be justifiable to use this extravagant material.
These planes will be rare as I only have a small amount of this wood and I have more chance of winning the lottery than obtaining more (even allowing for the fact I don’t buy lottery tickets!).
These are two very good examples of the oriflame colouring that Zitan is known for. Once exposed to the light and atmosphere it will go dark and in some cases black.
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.
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.
Some of the woods that I intend to use in the No 10. Although it doesn’t look at its best at this stage I am putting the picture up to satisfy an enquiry. There is ebony, box and rosewood.
This wood is very, very special. It is Pterocarpus santalinus. As it comes at a premium it will only be appreciated by those who are familiar with this wood.
I think I have been here before, though in a different application.
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.
The final part of the A6 construction.
Drilling and countersinking frogs for the rivets.
The bottom has been slotted out for mouth and drilling for the corresponding frog rivets.
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.