Thread: Tips, Techniques and Theory
22nd May 2022, 10:32 AM #151
I've noticed that quite a few "self-taught" makers use punches when closing their dovetails. I've used them myself once or twice to try & speed things up when I had to move a lot of metal to close a bigger gap than I intended having (aka stuff-ups... ). Using a punch makes mishaps a bit less likely, perhaps, but it's slow-going & the effects can be more disastrous if the punch does slip! Also, you need to use both hands, one for the punch & one for the hammer, so you've got to figure out how to hold the body securely while you work on it - not an easy task at all, especially if you are working on curved sides & have a couple of extra temporary clamps keeping things in place until you get the pins closed enough to hold so you can get rid of them. I much prefer using the hammer directly, holding the job with my left hand so I can maneuvre it constantly to present the strike-point most conveniently.
It took me a few planes to gain sufficient accuracy to be confident of producing only the occasional small ding - these seem to be most likely just as you make the final blows at the edges to really seat the metal solidly. By then you have things well mushroomed over & the hammer likes to slide off the sloped edges on impact & put little dings where they're not wanted. These are usually minor & will disappear completely in the final clean-up, but I still have the occasional deep ding that remains as evidence of my yet-to-be-perfected technique. In fact I got a couple on the last little plane I made, I was using the softer Chinese brass which is lovely to peen, it's very forgiving and can take a huge amount of hammering without fear of splits or cracks, but the price is even a light mis-hit goes deeper & is harder to remove.
Brad - I looked at the planes on the Neville website and they are certainly not Sauer & Steiner standard yet! But you have to make a start somewhere & I'm sure Konrad's weren't quite what they are now when he started (about 30 yrs ago). Treating the infill (especially boxwood) and the brass to "age" it seems to be de rigeur for the Brit makers, Bill Carter is a dedicated "ager". I also noted they all seem to be single-iron jobs - so were a lot of Holteys and Sauer & Steiners - I guess they aren't/weren't true believers in the benefits of cap-irons? A well-made standard-pitch single-iron plane with a tight mouth can be a great performer and as long as you don't work with gnarly woods you may never miss it. I only saw one mouth on the website and you certainly wouldn't describe it as "fine" so there's a bit of work to do there, too!
I could not find any prices for the Neville planes - did you? As you say, a couple of them look a bit ordinary, one of the mitre planes in particular has a poorly-fitted front piece with a big gap between the brass & the sole & a big gap between the bun wood & the metal - I hope that one is heavily discounted. What my "professional' eye picked up on several planes was the not-too straight line between sole & sides & the curved edges of the tails - a sign of very heavy peening to close variable gaps. It is a challenge to get that joint line straight & absolutely tight along the entire side. I spend a lot of effort filing the sockets on the sides to a straight line (using a hardwood guide block). If you get that line dead straight and your sockets mating snugly, it's relatively plain sailing closing everything up nice & tight with the lines all nice & straight after filing off teh waste. It seems there always has to be one pin hole to deny me perfection, dammit, you just pray it's going to be very small & not in a prominent spot. It looks to me like the joint lines on a couple of the planes pictured are very wavy, indicating he had to do some very heavy peening to close them up. The join between the long pin that spans the mouth & the side is the one that is most likely to cause you grief, a) because it's longer & b) the mouth opening makes the sole a bit less stiff so it's harder to peen a tight join. It looks like he had a hard time with a couple of those.
It's easy to be a critic, but I reckon it would be a very tough game to make infills profitably. You have to get Sauer & Steiner or Holtey quality to hope to get their prices, but it is a long road to get there! While working towards it, how does one price one's work? It takes me about 3-4 days to build a smoother-sized plane. I could speed things up a little if I had a good linisher, a good metal-cutting bandsaw (up go the overheads!), & if I made the exact same design repeatedly so fitting the stuffing was not such a painstaking job, so perhaps I could get it down to 2 days per plane after a few years at it. If I expected to make a decent hourly rate & cover overheads & material, that would mean something approaching $2,000. To ask anything remotely like that I would want the thing to be perfect in every way, which would mean taking twice as long per unit. I think I'd go backwards rapidly, so I'll content myself with selling a few of my better "learners" for little more than the cost of materials & consumables - that's enough to maintain my shed habit...
I did a count recently & was surprised at how many planes I've made in the last 15 years. I've learnt a lot since #1, & consider myself a semi-competent journeyman, but I'd need a lot more constant practice to be really slick at it. My shoulders won't last that long I'm afraid, so I'm as good as I'll ever be. You are quite safe on the podium, Konrad, Karl & Bill....
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22nd May 2022, 12:32 PM #152
22nd May 2022, 01:23 PM #153
As you may recall, I thought I'd dreamed up a novel lever-cap/wedge arrangement for my shoulder & chariot planes all by myself: Blade retention.jpg
It was a pretty obvious way to do it, really, & I wondered why no one else had thought of it until I discovered Tom Norris had used an almost identical system on his shoulder & "thumb" planes ~100 years ago. I don't know how I could've missed it before, I've looked at so many planes in books & online over 40 years or more. A lecturer of ours back in my student days used to say "you only see what you recognise", & I think that is very true. Once I'd made mine, I instantly recognised what Norris had done, even on a black & white drawing !
22nd May 2022, 01:42 PM #154
I spend countless hours looking at pictures on the web.
Tho Iím pretty sure it was a vintage model !!!!
So like Ian as mentioned, Iím sure Iím not the first an certainly wont be the last too use a lever cap of that design.
22nd May 2022, 04:23 PM #155
As for his prices, I think I may have seen one of his smoothers offered for around 1500 (pounds I assume) I will have a dig and see if I can find it again.Brad.
22nd May 2022, 05:44 PM #156
Just found this Hotley picture,
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