Monday, July 17, 2017

Making Moulding By Hand: eBedstead Part II

There are two distinct sets of woodworkers that I tend to disappoint. One of these groups is the Hand Tool Only crowd. I guess it is often assumed that since I make and sell moulding planes ( then I must be a hand tool-only guy. I am not.

I became aware of hollows and rounds as a means to an end: the ability to create an infinite number of options. I was attracted first to the ability to make what I may want, unbridled from my selection of router bits or Woodcraft's.

This beadstead that I am highlighting hopefully illustrates this idea.

I do not intend to make this piece. However, I am no longer limited by my tooling to make it exactly if I choose. By introducing hollows and rounds into my work I possess the option to make small or large changes. These changes will be those that I may want to make, never being forced into a close interpretation or being good enough.

Hollows, rounds and the accompanying few planes offer you, the end-user, infinity. They offer you choice and they offer speed for short lengths. They never inspired me, however, to get rid of my machinery because machines can speed up the process.

Last we left this moulding we had transferred the layout lines onto our block of wood.

From here I move to machines. First, the bandsaw:

The next step is to create a series of rabbets. As discussed previously on this blog, rabbets serve three purposes: removing the bulk of material with the edge that easiest to maintain, creating a series of chutes for the plane to ride in while serving as a substitute for a fence, and creating a series of depth gauges. (More on these in the past and in the future.)

I added most of my rabbets with a tablesaw. In this case I added the large chamfer on the bandsaw at 45 degrees, so I tipped my tablesaw blade over to 45.

I don't spend time being too perfect here. I just get it really close and then clean it up with a rabbet plane. 

Making these rabbets with a snipes bill and rabbet plane is, of course, a straight forward process for you idealistic hand tool only guys. Lord nows I've made plenty myself. I just prefer the tablesaw here. 

(Note: if you rely upon the fence and depth stop of a moving fillester or other similar plane than you will not be able to make this series of rabbets. You will eventually lose the surfaces upon which the fence and/or depth stop register.)

We have yet to use a profile plane, but we are nearly done. Getting to the above product I often estimate as being 70-80% or the work. 

Do you see? It's that quick

It's done!

Again, the final product:

The final resting place: 

And a hint at the options and final solutions for you Hand Tool Never guys:

Enjoy sacrificing, sanding and/or waiting weeks for delivery!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Poplar eBedstead Circa 1710

Have you ever looked at a potential piece, considered the build and then simply disregarded the project due to an inability to make one certain aspect?

Before I became aware of hollows and rounds I did this quite often. Moulding profiles dictated my choices. The range of options is limitless.

Consider this bedstead...

(It will really tie your bedroom together like no rug can.)

I imagine that this piece is not currently on the 'to do' list for many of us. But can you make it? We could all figure out the turnings, joints, panels, etc. But the mouldings...

(Warne, E. J. Furniture Mouldings. Other bibliographical information...)

It would be sad to let only the mouldings preclude you from making this. It would also be a shame to purchase the specific shaper knives and router bits only to never use them again. (Not to mention the sanding)

With hollows and rounds you can make all of these profiles and, with the same series of tools, create the next.

Let me quickly walk you through the process of making the crown. If you have neither followed my blog before (start from the beginning) nor read my book then the following will appear convoluted. Read the blog posts from the past or stick with me in the future. It will ultimately make sense.

The first step in making this exact crown (above, center) is to transfer the shape from paper onto wood. I do this accurately by first "finding the flats." Define each vertical and horizontal surface by measuring from known edges.
(Once I have the thickness and width, I can use my dividers. Do you see the tool marks on the edges?)

Then, using a circle template, I choose the correct radius and connect the flats.

This first cove was made with a 4/16" and 6/16" concave radius that equates to a #4 and #6 round, respectively. This elliptical shape is more complex than the following and we will touch upon it further at a later date. (There is another post about elliptical/ovular shapes buried in this blog somewhere, but I can't find it now.)

This next convex shape was made with a #6 hollow and is a 6/16" radius. It is 90 degrees of a circle. It's a straight forward operation but not the easiest, just close. On a scale from 1-10 it's a 2. We will (and have) cover(ed) this, too.

Step 3 in laying out the curves? The ogee.

Okay, we have the final shape but hollows and rounds have no fence and no depth stop. The lack of these two features is an absolute advantage of the tool and what grants them their flexibility. We just need a series of rabbets and chamfers to guide these planes that are difficult to steer..  

Why are we drawing the moulding profile in this fashion on the upper left corner of a piece of wood? Easy!

Drawing the profile in this manner allows for a simple transfer of gauge lines. 

The rabbets pretty much define the final profile. Making rabbets accurately should be a straight forward process. So be certain to save this layout piece if there is any chance you'll make the profile again.

Feel free to redraw your actual profile by connecting the flats again.

Come back later...

Friday, June 30, 2017

Skew, Square and A Trip Into the Weeds

As you read please remember that I didn't start this, I just posted a couple pictures on Instagram (@msbickford) showing the difference in shaving between a skewed rabbet plane and a square rabbet plane.

Within a single comment I found myself in a debate regarding the value of skew vs. square when going across the grain and potential for changes in effective cutting angle. Instagram is not a good medium for discussions or explanations, so here we are.

First, skewing an iron in a plane does help performance when working across the grain. Here are a few pictures of a rabbet made going across the grain with a skewed iron and no nicker.


Due to the leading edge of the iron severing the wood fibers at the point that will be the vertex of the rabbet, you get a much cleaner rise (fillet). The fibers of the rabbet's floor are not being lifted prior to them being sheared (detached.)

If correctly skewing the iron does not increase the performance of the plane then it stands to reason that incorrectly skewing the iron (i.e. the trailing edge of the iron contacting the fibers at the vertex) must not decrease the performance, right?

Do you see a difference in the quality of vertical rise? I would have gone deeper but the plane clogged due to poor performance. Fibers are being lifted prior to being sheared, hence tear-out.

Here is an example of a square iron going across the grain.

The quality of the fillet is kind of in the middle, right?

Adding nickers, of course, changes things.

Anyway, the debate was more about bedding angle vs. a perceived change in effective cutting angle due to skewing the iron in the body of the plane. The debate seemed to come to an end after a simile of walking up a mountain in various patterns. This is a correct comparison, but...

"People that speak in [similes] oughta shampoo my crotch."

A skewed plane works better across the grain because the leading edge is on the inside of the rabbet, makes contact and cuts first. The horizontal surface of the rabbet is ultimately cleaner because the vertical fillet is cleaner. The deterioration of the vertical can lead to the same in the horizontal.

The skew of the iron in the plane body does not change or reduce the effective cutting angle of the plane. A square rabbet plane bedded at 50 degrees has the same cutting angle as a skewed plane bedded at 50 degrees.

Thinking that the skew changes the effective cutting angle in the same manner that skewing a square plane reduces the effective cutting angle is not a direct comaparison. You are measuring two different angles. 

To measure the same angles you must measure square to the mouth. 
(Note the lines running perpendicular to the mouth)

I am holding the sliding bevel at the appropriate angle here.

Here I am holding the bevel against the body and you can see the slight difference between the two angles.

So a 15 degree skewed plane bedded at 50 degrees will have an effective cutting angle of about 52 degrees if you skew the plane body so that the iron is perpendicular to the direction in which you are pushing just like a square plane bedded at at 52 degrees will have an effective cutting angle of about 50 if you skew the plane 15 degrees from perpendicular in the direction in which you are working.

Still confused? Maybe all of this can be summed up in a picture, which brings us back to instagram:

 The plane on the left is bedded at 50 and when pushed in the direction of the arrow probably has an effective cutting angle of 48. The plane on the right is bedded at 50 and when pushed up has an effective cutting angle of 50.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wood Planes That Always Clog and Wear Angles

Many of us get into using moulding planes through antiques. Most antique planes can be made to function to the same standard as new planes. Like old Stanley planes you may find at a garage sale, some antique wooden planes are better than others and all will need a varying amount of work before being put to wood.

I'm often asked about choosing antique planes. The simplest and shortest advice is to look at the condition of the mouth. A damaged mouth likely means that the plane has a problem other than being in need of a fresh hone. The mouth, whether it is damaged or ill-dimensioned, can and must be fixed. (Knowing why the mouth was damaged and how to fix that is another subject.)

The wear angle of a plane is highlighted here.

The wear angle is nearly parallel to the iron and is an example of a piece of technology in this type of tool. It allows for the plane's sole to be flattened without opening the mouth to any large degree. It also allows a more uniform, tight mouth opening over the width of a wide, deep profile.

There are many things that can be incorrect about this facet. Sometimes the mouth can be damaged in use and the wear angle needs to be reestablished to rid the plane of the damage. If you've made your own planes or they were made by prison labor 100 years ago, then the geometry of the angle may be incorrect before taking the first successful shaving. Any one of these things will render the plane useless because the shaving will clog the mouth at the beginning of every intended pass.

The best tool for removing any wood from the wear angle is a push cheek float.

Be aware that only a few teeth will be engaged with the wear angle. You are likely to get a rippled wear like this one below:

This wavy surface WILL result in a mouth that clogs like this:

The clog above occurred within an inch of starting a cut. If I stop immediately and simply smooth out the the wavy surface then my plane will function appropriately. 

I smooth the wear angle with my 150 grit "float."

If I tried to force the shaving to eject then I WILL damage the mouth by forcing a large amount of material into a small area, thus compressing the grain or chipping the mouth. I will then need to open the mouth because it is damaged, not because it is too tight.

Another common mistake is to try to keep the wear angle parallel to the iron. Know that there is no such thing as parallel in woodworking just like there is no such thing as flat, only varying degrees of concavity and convexity. The wear angle is going to progressively open as the shaving travels up through the escapement or it is going to progressively close. The angle must open.

Here is a wear angle that is parallel or slightly closing:

and the resulting shaving and clog:

Follow the process above before you damage the mouth and all will be well again:

Look at the mouth of any plane you are considering to purchase. The condition of the mouth can tell you how successful the last person to use it was. It can be indicative of how the plane will perform with a slight amount of work.

Remember that there are several reasons a plane may clog. Addressing the mouth and the wear angle incorrectly will not fix the main problem and only add another.

If you choose to pursue using antique planes then make a few for yourself. The first time you need to fit your wedge into your mortise you will know what a properly fitting wedge shall feel like. The first time you need to bed your iron to your plane body you will know how to bed an iron on an antique, which may be necessary. The first time you need to match your iron's profile to that of the plane, you will work to a new tolerance.

Additionally, the first time you need to address the geometry of the mouth and wear angle then you will know how to fix it.

Good luck out there...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Podcast and A Plug

I recently recorded a few podcasts with the gentlemen at 360 Woodworking. You can check out the first over at 360 Woodworking.

Chuck Bender, one of the proprietors at 360, is one of the three members of the our woodworking community that were truly instrumental in me starting this years long endeavor of making planes.

I have been fascinated by Chuck's work for a long time and use any excuse to spend time in his shop. As a result, I will be teaching two classes out in Cincinnati in early November.

In the first session I will teach the of making side escapement planes by walking the small class through the process of making a round. Each student will then leave with the material, skill and tool (hollow) to make the mating round.

In the second two-day class we will learn the process of how to use hollows and rounds to make repeatable and desirable profiles with a series of tools that have no fences or depth stops and are difficult to steer.

Over these years I have learned that each woodworking school is different. Chuck's school is geared toward small groups, which means that there is a lot of one-on-one interaction so more subjects can be thoroughly covered. Additionally, the shop helper, Chuck, has not only made the various subjects his classes focus upon, but he built an obviously successful career in selling them. He uses this type of tool in his professional work so he comes to the subject fully knowledgable and from a different prospective.

Who knows, maybe we'll even get Mr. Machine himself, Glen Huey, to try one out. So consider coming for the knowledge and experience or just Glen's handtool intervention where we address the subject 'Safety With Power Equipment: Fact or Fabrication.'