Monday, February 1, 2016

My toothing plane... and my new Instagram account

Toothing planes have gotten a lot of coverage lately. I find this tool to be very useful in the shop and, like tradesmen of the past, I use it for more than just veneer work.  Here is my toothing plane.

It doesn't have a maker's stamp but appears to be professionally made. The iron is by Butcher and is all but used up. It will be a sad day when I have to replace it.

The plane is set to take a fine cut but it does not produce a true shaving. It produces little ribbons of wood, as seen in the picture. This enables the user to plane in virtually any direction regardless of the grain, which is useful when dealing with highly figured wood. I use this little plane to flatten unruly pieces, to remove bits of wood from inside cases after glue up (useful when fitting drawers to cases made with hand prepped stock since there is often a bit of wood to remove there), and I've even used it to plane down drawers to fit the openings (inspired by this entry from the Hay Shop blog.)  

The surface left by the toothing plane isn't what you would call attractive, but it can easily be scraped or planed to a beautiful show surface. I use my toothing plane more and more as I grow as a craftsman, and I would encourage you to get one and try it out (and not just for veneer).

For more information on toothing planes, visit the Hay Shop blog.

At the suggestion of a reader of this blog, I have joined Instagram. Check me out there @zachdillinger. I plan to use this blog for more in-depth information sharing, and the Instagram account for frequent updates on my shop projects (including sneak peaks of the work from my upcoming book With Saw, Plane and Chisel.

Zach Dillinger

Monday, January 25, 2016

Returning to this space and an I. Sym jointer plane

It's been 363 days since my last post on The Eaton County Woodworker... you may ask what the heck I've been up to! Well, I'll tell you... I've been writing a book for the F&W Media / Popular Woodworking folks! It's all about how to make period furniture (six projects representing the major 18th century styles) entirely with hand tools. It is not a how-to book on how to tune or use (in a theoretical sense) tools; it is how to use them to actually make furniture. It should be due around Halloween of this year and will be nationally available wherever books are sold.

The draft is almost ready to go to the publisher, so I'll have time, energy, and topics to write about once again on this blog. Please keep an eye on this space as I have some pretty cool stuff in the hopper. Stuff like this late 18th century I. Sym jointer plane. 200 years old and still perfectly flat and square. Just took a few minutes to sharpen the plane (it needed nothing else) and it was taking those whispy shavings we all know and love.


Lovely I. Sym jointer plane on my desk, home base for writing my book

Hand prints from a long-dead user in the patina

No twist after 200+ years; this is why I like English planes better than American

Perfectly flat and straight in length with no work

Whispy full length shavings in walnut (some sapwood)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Excellent post on wooden smoothing planes from Graham Haydon

You might know that I use wooden bench planes in my work. Sure, I'm distracted by pretty infills like everyone else (I have a bunch, panel, jointer, smoothers, shoulder, that I should probably sell... email me for details if you are interested), but I always return to my first loves. The siren song of figured beech, smooth wood-on-wood action, and thick tapered irons is impossible to ignore.

Therefore, I was happy (and a little miffed because the prices will surely go up!) to read Graham Haydon's post about wooden smooth planes on the Popular Woodworking website. 


Monday, January 26, 2015

18th century Dutch jack plane

As I continue to sort, sharpen, and shine up my tool kit to prepare for book-related work (and more importantly book-related photography), I decided to sort out my lack of a proper 18th c. single iron jack plane.

I had some free time on Sunday and was lazily flipping through Colonial Williamsburg's "Tools: Working Wood in the 18th Century, I saw this excellent little example of a single iron Dutch jack plane.

 It has a very stubby rear tote typical of the period (you really push the plane with the area between your thumb and pointer finger, loop the pointer around the front of the tote, and drop the remaining three fingers down the side of the plane in use). It also has the very sculptural front handle, a feature not typical of wooden planes. I decided to give this one a go and see what I could come up with.

Only having a short period of time, I chose to modify a very sad and broken down 19th century jack I have. It has a single iron but the iron is not, I believe, original to the plane, leading to a poorly fitting wedge. So, in addition to the the new handles, I had to make a new wedge.

I did some severe surgery to the plane. The tote was broken off about 1/2" above the stock, so I dug the remnants out and sized the rear handle to fit (which the Dutch handle's specs did with very little modification). I also cut an inch off each end to get rid of busted up areas, cracks etc. Finally, even though it pained me, I smooth planed the original surface off the plane. It was dirty and looked very weird with the cut-off ends. May the Tool Gods forgive me.

Ordinarily I wouldn't take such drastic steps but this plane was one good shop-cleanup away from the woodstove, so no harm was really done. It wasn't functional as a plane and wasn't doing anyone any good, so I've given it new life.

Here is what I came up with. I had some oak of the proper thickness, so I went with that. It should hold up fine. If not, I'll just drive the oak dowels (the above picture is dark but the dowels holding the handles in are clearly visible) out and make new handles. My apologies for the darkness of the pictures; I finished this up about 9pm yesterday. These pictures show the linseed oil but not the shellac / wax that I did late last night.

And here's how it works. I'm planing a little on an aborted hard maple jointer plane project that I keep around for such tasks and for taking bits from now and then.

 It takes a fine shaving, but more importantly it leaves a nice glossy surface. I have no doubt this plane will become a favorite, rather than a sad, unloved relic in my shop loft as it was at the beginning of Sunday morning. The tote takes some getting used to for someone who is used to a taller, more modern grip, but I suspect it will be just fine over time.