Tools

Veritas Combination Plane

The Veritas Combination Plane is a tool that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time now, and it’s finally arrived!

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large plow plane

The Veritas Combination Plane and storage box(es)

The Veritas Combination Plane has been a long time coming (though not as long as another fabled combination plane…hehe) – the woodworking community first heard of it a few years ago on various forums, and was initially being called the Large Plow Plane.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plow Plane, Large Plough Plane, Stanley No. 45

The Veritas Combination Plane in it’s box

The plane was demonstrated at Handworks in Amana this year, where Veritas took pre-orders, and is being released in Lee Valley stores (and website sometime early September). Here’s Fine Woodworking’s first look at it.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Beautiful torrefied maple handles

Mine arrived at the local Lee Valley store for pickup earlier today (yes, I am one of the fortunate/unfortunate ones that have a local Lee Valley store), and despite having a very busy day, I had to go pick it up. It arrived with the plane box, and two blade boxes – fenced planes with lots of different blades can be a pain to store so this should help. The boxes are cnc machined out of baltic birch, and fit the blade, the extra fence rods and blade boxes.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Side view, showing the main body of the plane and torrefied maple fence

I haven’t had the opportunity to take this for a whirl yet, so this isn’t a review, but first impressions of the Veritas Combination Plane are fantastic – it sure looks to be made with the typical Veritas attention to detail and quality craftsmanship. The 17 brass knobs add some bling to otherwise sleek body, and while it has a heft to it, it doesn’t seem to be as heavy as a Stanley No. 45. A big factor in my decision to purchase this plane was the compatibility with Stanley combination plane blades, which I plan on testing out soon. It also came replete with a torrefied maple fence, a nice touch, as the fence matches the handle and torrefied maple is a very stable material.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Yes, it has a lot of knobs

Speaking of the Stanley No. 45, I never really liked them much, and in preparation for the arrival of the newcomer, I sold both of mine – and if first impressions are anything to go by, I won’t be looking back.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

The box is very well made, from baltic birch

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Reviews, Tools, 0 comments

More Tool Wall Photos

Last post I wrote about my new shop organization aid/self indulgent decor, a tool wall. Here’s a few more photos.

Squares, Combination Square, Engineers square, protractor, bevel gauge, starrett, veritas

All sorts of square(s)

Chisels, woodworking, veritas chisels, stanley sweetheart, mortise chisel

Yes, I have a bit of chisel (and mallet) problem.

Bit and Brace storage, marking tools

Bit and various marking tool storage

framesaw, bit, brace, hand drill

Brace and Drill storage, and my framesaw making a cameo too

 

Veritas MKII sharpening jig

Sharpening jigs

Folding rule, sectore, starrett, dial caliper, stanley

This is the inside of the stanley tool pouch I posted last time. Starrett dial calipers, sector ruler and folding rules

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, 0 comments
Shop Organisation: Tool Wall

Shop Organisation: Tool Wall

Ah the interwebs. Such a great source of ideas, information, inspiration…and procrastination. Sometimes I feel like I read more about woodworking than I actually do woodworking. Anyways, one of the things I love seeing is other woodworkers shops, and specifically how they store (and display) their hand tools. I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of a tool cabinet vs a tool chest for a while. Either option would be at least a few months into the future given my current list of projects, so in the meantime I decided to go with a tool wall.

Woodworking shop storage for vintage hand planes

Shop storage for vintage tools.

While my power tools reside in an unheated garage, my hand tool shop is in the basement of our house, which means my tools are for the most part protected from the ravages of rust. In the last couple years I have had a couple close calls where rust somehow magically appeared on a couple planes, so I think I’ll build a tool chest capable of holding all of my new planes and forego the wall hung tool cabinet. That leaves the wall free to hold the rest of my tools and keep them readily accessible.

Sawtill for panel saws and backsaws, disston, bad axe, veritas, lie nielsen, knew concepts

Recently completed sawtill

For the last year or so I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about owning so many tools that I hardly get to use, as a hobbyist woodworker. A couple months ago I read the Anarchist’s Tool Chest by Chris Schwarz, which only made me feel even more guilty about my burgeoning tool collection. I’ve already parted with all the tools I could bring myself to part with (and it was a lot of tools) and now I want to make sure I use all the tools I own. I’ve spent more money than I like to admit on tools, and my finest and favourite tools tend to get stored in a chest with various rust preventation measures…which means I reach for not-so-fine-tools most often because I don’t need to bend over a chest to get at them. My hope is that keeping all my tools readily accessible on a tool wall will make me more likely to use them regularly – and also put them away more frequently, leaving my shop less cluttered.

Tool wall chisel rack

Figuring out placement for chisel racks

Steve Branam’s tool wall is one of the finest tool walls I’ve come across. The simplicity and aesthetic qualities of what he created is just wonderful. As someone who loves all things hand tool related, having a wall full of tools perfectly organized and ready to go serves more than just a utilitarian purpose – it serves as workshop decor too (though my wife disagrees). Anyways, I used some of his principles in deciding on the tool layout. I wanted a single degree of separation between myself and all my tools, i.e. have every single tool accessible without having to move another out of the way. The easier it is to remove and replace a tool, the more likely I am to use it and replace it after I’m done.

Veritas, Ashley Iles, Chisel roll, tool wall

Veritas PMV11 chisels nestled safely in the jean chisel roll stolen from the Ashley Iles chisels…

For a backer board I went with veneered particle board. Each board was screwed into wall studs at 4 points. Chisel/screwdriver/rasp racks were made from 3/8″ strips of Cherry and Walnut, simply two strips laminated along with a couple small spacer blocks. The racks were counterbored and screwed into the particle board, taking care to ensure the chisels enter and exit them easily. The rest of the holders were made from scraps around the shop, other than the jean and leather chisel rolls my Ashley Iles MKII and Stanley Sweetheart chisels came in. It took a bit of fiddling, and a lot of rearranging, but I now have most of my non-handplane tools hung up right where I can see them.

chisel rack, tool wall, ashley iles, stanley sweetheart

Some more chisel storage. The leather ‘spacers’ really help keep the chisels straight, and protect you from the sharp tips.

The tool wall currently holds:

  • 4 sets of bench chisels along with a bunch of miscellaneous chisels
  • A large set of english mortise chisels, and a couple Narex mortise chisels
  • My mallets and plane hammers
  • My squares, dividers, marking gauges, bevel gauges, protractors
  • Dial calipers, rules, sectors
  • Card scrapers
  • Braces, drills, and bits
  • Rasps, screwdrivers, burnishers, files
  • Marking knives, awls, pens and pencils
  • Spokeshaves
  • Sharpening jigs
  • Drawknife
  • Straightedge
  • Framesaw (kind of)
Tool wall, veritas, spokeshave, vintage tools, storage

Simple spokeshave storage

My nicer planes get tucked away in a little rust proof micro environment and my sets of vintage planes (woodies and bailey pattern) sit on uncovered shelves along with a bunch of other vintage tools. The oxidation and patina on those tools seem to protect them from further rust. Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Stanley, chisel, sweetheart, tool roll

I’ve never cared much for the chisel rolls some manufacturers include, but they come in useful! The stanley sweethearts come in a beautiful leather roll

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Tools, 0 comments

English Mortise Chisels/Pigstickers/Oval Bolstered Mortise Chisels

The Brits really do get the coolest woodworking tools – Scottish infill planes, anything Preston and English mortise chisels, also known as oval bolstered mortise chisels, or pigstickers on this side of the water. These mortise chisels are apparently quite common in the UK, less so in the US, and even less so here in the Great White North…so much so that I never actually ran into any English mortise chisels in the wild here, and the old tool dealers in these parts don’t seem to have any either.

Pigsticker, Mortise Chisel, Oval Bolstered

(Most of) My set of English Mortise chisels

For the last couple of years I’ve been using Narex mortise chisels …they’re very reasonably priced (almost too much so) and the steel sharpens easily and holds a decent edge. I have the 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ sizes, and the first two handle most of my needs – I don’t think I’ve ever used the 1/2″ size. Despite their decent performance, these chisels lacked the fineness and spirit of an old tool, or a finely crafted new tool….so I found myself craving replacements.

Ashley Iles, Mortise Chisel, Ray Iles, Pigsticker

‘The Beast’ – a 5/8″ pigsticker chisel by Ward, beside it’s cousin from Sheffield, a 5/8″ Ashley Iles

I had my eyes set on the new Veritas PM-V11 mortise chisels or the Ray Iles pigstickers, but figured I’d check out ebay first. Long story short, I ended up winning 3 separate bids, and now have what is basically a full set of 11 english mortise chisels, ranging from 1/8″ to 5/8″…yes, you read that right, a 5/8″ pigsticker. Six of the chisels are Sorby’s, and the rest are Ward, Marsden Brothers, Thos Ibbotson and I. Cutler.

Some of the sizes seem a little odd at first, like the 11/32″ chisel, until I read Joel Moskowitz’s excellent 5 part article on this topic, which I suggest you read if you are looking into mortise chisels. I know some sizes will be used way less than others, but a benefit of having a wide variety of sizes is that if my tenon is off by about a 16th or a 32nd of an inch, I can still create a perfectly fitting mortise.

Pigsticker, English Mortise Chisel, Oval Bolster

‘The Beast’ – a 5/8″ chisel by Ward, beside it’s cousin from Sheffield, a 5/8″ Ashley Iles

The mortise chisels are wonderfully suited to their function – the blades are tapered to prevent jamming, the curve of the primary bevel helps lever out chips and the oval shape of the bolster and handle help align the chisel in the hand without looking. The handle tapers outwards in both directions, providing a wider striking area that concentrates the force on the smaller area of the bolster. The bottom of the handles are rounded to prevent chipping or cracking. And most of all they look super cool (my friends think I’m a dork for finding these things cool, but that’s another matter altogether).

Pigsticker, Oval Bolstered, English Mortise Chisels

English Mortise Chisels

Most of the chisels appear to have their original handles, which are things of beauty. I considered making matching handles for all of them out of jatoba, but the originals are so well made that I can’t justify it. A couple of the chisels will need rehandling however, and I will post about that soon!

Oh, and I’m really looking forward to using The Beast (the 5/8″) during my bench build!

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Tools, 2 comments
Ashley Iles MKII Chisels- First Impressions

Ashley Iles MKII Chisels- First Impressions

I spent a pretty large proportion of my time as a beginner woodworker looking for, and restoring old tools. Probably way too much time, and it took away from time I should have spent learning to saw, chisel and plane properly. In recent months I went through a bit of a philosophical change, sold off most of my extra tools (I had a lot) and for the most part, started replacing them with new, high quality tools. I’ll be writing about what brought about this change and the tools I forsook and what I replaced them with in another post. Nevertheless, it’s actually very easy to find an old plane and turn it into a stellar performer. Old chisels are actually a bit more finicky (and boring) to restore. Not to mention some people (myself included) find mismatched sets of chisels rather unattractive. I guess I’m just shallow like that. Anyways, it was time to look for a new set of bench chisels, and after a lot of research, I decided to go with the set of six Ashley Iles MKII Chisels.

Ashley Iles, MKII, Chisels, Alfie Shine, Marking Knife

My package from the UK – Ashley Iles MKII chisels, Alfie Shine and Marking Knife

When I first started woodworking, I bought my first ever chisels from Home Depot. It wasn’t long before I outgrew them. I’ve tried a variety of chisels up till now, the new Stanley Sweethearts, mismatched vintage chisels, Marples blue chips, the red Footprint equivalents and a set of vintage German chisels to name a few. Some of these were great, and some not so much. Add to that the fact that every single forum thread on chisels seems to include at least a few references to Ashley Iles MKII Chisels, Paul Sellers used to recommend them(not so much nowadays), my lack of self control and my newfound determination to replace my old tools with top quality tools that require no work, and I found myself ordering the set of six MKII chisels before I knew it.

Ashley Iles, MKII Bench Chisels

The MKII chisels in the tool roll they come in

There are no dealers for Ashley Iles tools in Canada, so I purchased mine from the Ashley Iles website. They were out of stock initially, so I had to wait a little before I could place my order. The set of six MKII chisels and shipping to Canada cost me around $220, a very decent price for a high quality set of chisels. The website warns that these tools are in high demand, and may take up to 21 days before they ship, and they aren’t joking. Mine took 22 days, and was shipped using Royal Mail Standard, so it was close to two months before I finally received mine. These chisels are handmade in Sheffield, and Ashley Iles are a small family run business, so the wait is well justified.

MKII, Ashley Iles, Bench Chisels

Glue squeeze out from the ferrules

The chisels arrived in a rolled up jean tool roll. I don’t travel with my chisels, so the tool roll is extraneous to my requirements, but it’s still I nice touch. I believe they used to come with a leather roll before, but that’s just how these things go. This was the first tool I ordered from the UK, and something about it had me super excited. Upon unravelling the tool roll and taking out the chisels, I was…rather disappointed. The brass ferrules on most of the chisels were loose and coming off, which was expected, coming from humid England to dry, cold northern Alberta. However, the underneath the ferrules was a healthy amount of glue squeeze out, that was clearly not wiped off during manufacturing. The manufacturer’s mark on the chisels was stamped on without much care as to the orientation, making the overall fit and finish of the tools rather sloppy. This might seem nit-picky, but given that most premium, small tool manufacturers go over and above what is expected these days, this aesthetic lack of care was rather disappointing. Other than these issues the chisels have an understated beauty about them – the Bubinga handles are hand turned, in classic and simple pattern that is easy to hold and is hefty enough to be able to withstand striking.

Ashley Iles MKII, Bench Chisel

The manufacturer’s marks were stamped on without much care for the orientation

Anyways, given the disappointing first impressions, I was really worried about the flatness of the chisel backs. The chisels are slightly hollow ground, and this is supposed to make the backs easier to flatten. I decided to skip the 1200 grit diamond stone and head straight to my 4000 and 8000 grit Bester Imanishi ceramic stones to flatten and hone the chisels. Once I started I realised immediately that I needn’t have worried about the quality of the steel – the backs flattened to a polish in a matter of seconds rather than minutes. Honing the edges was similarly quick. The steel was befitting of a premium chisel, and ultimately that’s what counts the most.

Hollow grind, Ashley Iles, MKII Chisels

The flattened backs on all the chisels, showing the hollow grind

I used the chisels to build a dovetailed coffee box for a friend’s birthday, and they really excelled at chopping and cleaning out the corners of the pins and tails. The lands are ground down very fine at the tip, making them very well suited to the dovetailing tasks. In use the chisels felt balanced, hefty and well made.

Overall I wouldn’t list these chisels as premium offerings – they don’t have the fit and finish required to be considered in the same league as the Veritas, Lie Nielsen or Blue Spruce bench chisels. That being said, the set of six Ashley Iles MKII chisels were considerably cheaper – less than half the price of the set of five Veritas PMV11 chisels, and less than a third the cost of Blue Spruce chisels, so maybe it’s not a fair comparison. It should be noted that the price has gone up quite a bit since I ordered them. They’re currently around 40% more expensive than they were a few months ago. For the price I paid, I don’t regret the purchase at all – it’s still early days, but it appears other than the minor issues with fit and finish, the Ashley Iles MKII chisels are lifetime tools that are premium where it counts.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Reviews, Tools, 0 comments

Tour of Lee Valley & Veritas Manufacturing Facilities – Part 2

I left off in my last post in the R&D department at Veritas. One thing I forgot to mention was that I also got to see a part of Rob Lee’s antique tool collection, including a number of gorgeous plow planes. We didn’t visit Rob’s office, as he was away, but I hear he has quite the collection in there too. From R&D we headed out to the Veritas manufacturing facilities, passing through a large room with an incredible wall full of various tool designs – some of them were pretty out there, so I’m not sure if they were part of the R&D brainstorming process, or how they come up with the April Fool’s products.

Veritas, Plane, Woodworking

All of the Veritas handles are finished by hand in Ottawa

The manufacturing shop was pretty large in itself, and was extremely busy. We followed the stages of manufacture, from rough castings, to cleaning up the castings, to milling the mouths and the adjustable mouths of the planes, to the final flattening of each casting. Unfortunately I don’t really have many photos to share of the shop itself, as I didn’t want to inconvenience the many busy shop workers bustling about. In a separate area, the handles for all the tools are cnc cut out of torrefied maple, before being finally shaped and finished by hand. With the relatively large volume of production, I found it pretty amazing that Veritas still finished each handle by hand. The final castings, handles and screws/knobs all make their way to assembly

Veritas, Plane, Flattening

Final flattening of a plane sole at the Veritas Manufacturing Facilities

From there each tool and blade heads to QA, where every single tool is subjected to testing for flatness and perpendicularity. The final castings, handles and screws/knobs all then make their way to assembly, where they are assembled by dedicated workers and boxed, ready for shipping.

Veritas, Plane, Handplane, Handtools

Display of a full set of Veritas tools available to try at the Ottawa store

We finished our tour at the Ottawa Lee Valley store. The whole tour took over 2 hours, and I’m very grateful to Gerald for taking the time to walk me through all of their facilities and giving me such a detailed and attentive tour. To cap it all off, Gerald handed me a little gift in a velvet pouch – a key ring shaped like a Veritas custom jack plane (although Gerald pointed out these key rings were made before the custom line existed). It just so happened that I’d been looking for a key ring for a while, and this one was about as perfect as it could get. Definitely an experience I won’ t be forgetting soon!

jack plane, veritas, hand plane

The jack plane key ring gift I received

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in This and That, Tools, 0 comments
Tour of Lee Valley & Veritas Manufacturing Facilities – part 1

Tour of Lee Valley & Veritas Manufacturing Facilities – part 1

So last month I was in Ottawa visiting family, when I was invited out by Rob Lee, president of Lee Valley and Veritas to a guided tour of the Veritas manufacturing facilities. Being the veritas-phile that I am, of course I jumped at the opportunity immediately. Unfortunately I was only in town for two more days, and Rob was away, so he couldn’t give me the tour personally, but arranged for Gerald, head of the Customer Service department to take me on the tour instead.

Whenever I’m visiting another city in Canada I always use it as an excuse to pay a visit to the local Lee Valley store; I don’t expect to find anything different – I just love wasting time walking around the store looking at all the finely made tools. I’d already been to the Ottawa store and seen the Veritas building right beside it, which I assumed was the only other building they had in the area. I was wrong – there are six Lee Valley/Veritas buildings on Morrison Drive. Our tour began in the green building, and started at one of the cavernous warehouses. Gerald explained the system used to arrange products in the warehouse, and fulfill orders. The warehouse was particularly busy that day as one of the last few days of a free shipping event, and what struck me was that each order was checked for accuracy before being packed up and sent to the customer.

Lee Valley Veritas Manufacturing

Morrison Drive, where the Lee Valley and Veritas facilities reside.

From there we moved on to the customer service area. Now normally this would be a boring aspect of a manufacturing facility tour, but anyone who has dealt with Veritas customer service will know that they pull no punches when it comes to customer satisfaction. The customer service area had a full set of tools available to the staff, to help ensure they understand the customers complaint fully. The staff receive training on any new products being carried by LV. Oh, and the LV library houses a huge collection of books and guides that can be requested by any staff member across the country. The amount of care put into customer service really struck me.

The next stop was the media room, where products are photographed for the catalogs and the websites. It was pretty cool to see a laser distance measure being photographed at the time (it so happens that measure is featured on the LV website right now). From there we moved on to the design and research area, where I got to handle the new Large Plow Plane that should be coming out later this year. I was asked not to share any photos of the plane, so I won’t, but it definitely looks like an exciting plane. I was also shown the stages that the planes go through in development, from a 3d printed rough shape, to a rapid prototyping deposition model, to the final prototype in ductile iron.

Veritas, Lee Valley, Marking Gauge, April Fools

The Veritas Caliper Marking Gauge: It’s Real!

And here’s something I didn’t expect to see: The Veritas Caliper Marking Gauge. Every year Veritas releases an April Fool’s product (you can see the rest here). They are always pretty hilarious, but done well enough to make you question for a second if it is real…what I didn’t know is that they actually manufacture actual working models! For what it’s worth, it felt hefty and well made, like all Veritas tools, even if it was a bit…contrived an unwieldy. This post has run quite long already, so I’ll cover the manufacturing portion in the next post.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in This and That, Tools, 0 comments
Veritas Custom Bench Planes: New Shop Additions

Veritas Custom Bench Planes: New Shop Additions

Anyone who knows me or has visited my instagram knows I’m a big fan of Veritas tools. Part of the reason why is the commitment to quality and customer service that they’re known for, but there’s more to it than that – I won’t bore you with all of it, but I’ll mention a few. Veritas still manufactures their tools right here in Canada, and they have one of the lowest CEO:ground level employee pay ratios around. They are also the only high quality mainstream woodworking tool manufacturer (there really are only two of those right now, but anyways) who innovate with their tools, adding features that make their tools easier to use or work better. In 2014, Veritas released a new line of bevel down bench planes, the Custom Bench Planes.

Veritas Custom Bench Planes

Veritas No. 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 Custom Bench Planes

 

As the name implies, these can be customised with a variety of frog angles, two different choices of blade steel, and 6 different totes and knobs to choose from. I recently treated myself to two of the custom bench planes, a No. 4 1/2 with a 55 degree frog and a No. 5 1/2 with a 45 degree frog. I pondered getting a Lie Nielsen 4 1/2 for a while but decided to go with the Veritas instead. I plan on writing a little review on the planes soon, and I’ll go over why I chose the Veritas then.

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Wispy transparent shavings

For now, heres a few images that’ll show you why I’m pretty delighted with the performance of these two new additions so far. These were the first shavings I got out of these planes on some Bubinga and Pine with only a bit of honing on the blades.

Fine shavings less than a thousandth of an inch.

Wispy thin shavings less than a 0.001″ thick.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Reviews, Tools, 1 comment
A Handmade Rosewood & Brass Plane Hammer

A Handmade Rosewood & Brass Plane Hammer

Last Month I posted the making of a ball-peen inspired plane hammer. That was such a fun, quick project that I found myself making another one last week. While the ball peen inspired hammer worked well for adjusting the body of the plane, the larger wooden face and smaller brass face made it a little difficult getting to the blade in some of my planes. I decided I wanted a more traditional style hammer this time.

brass and rosewood plane hammer

Boring the mortise in the brass head

I made the head from a piece of 1″x1″ brass stock, 2″ long. I had a piece of scrap honduran rosewood that I was planning on making into a plane fence, but decided it would be perfect for this hammer. I drilled the mortise in the head in my drill press (make sure you reduce the rake on your twist drill bits, as the bit will dig into the brass and fling it at you otherwise). I elongated the top half of the mortise in one direction afterwards to accept the wedged handle tenon.  I wanted to add a wooden face to the head as well, so drilled another hole about .5″ deep in one face of the head to accept a round tenon.

Brass and rosewood plane hammer

Shaping the handle and the head.

I shaped the tenon on the rosewood handle first. I drew out the circumference of the tenon on the stock, and used a rasp to bring it down close to the final shape, before finishing with a file. I wasn’t concerned about the length of the tenon, as this would form on of the curves on the handle but was careful not to take the thickness of the tenon down too much. The rest of the handle was rough shaped with a rasp and finished with a spokeshave.

brass and rosewood plane hammer

Hand tool only build! (mostly)

Next up was shaping the brass head. I didn’t initially have a design in mind but came up with one as I went along. A few hours with a rasp, files and sandpaper later I had the rough shape complete. I epoxied the wooden face insert (also rosewood) in before final shaping and sanding. I polished the head up to 2000 grit, leaving a mirror finish. After assembling the handle in the head (with a bit of epoxy), I drove a brass screw into the top of the tenon to wedge it in place. I filled any gaps with a mix of epoxy and brass dust.

brass and rosewood plane hammer

The completed plane hamer!

Once it all cured I filed the screw down to the surface of the head, and finished off by finish sanding the hammer. I finished the handle using a few coats of shellac and some past wax, and voila! It was done.

brass and rosewood plane hammer

Another view of the completed plane hammer!

 

It turned out really well considering it wasn’t a planned project. The shape of the head lends itself to a balanced result, and the heft of the head feels great. I read somewhere that ‘every woodworker eventually becomes a shitty machinist too’ and I guess that’s true for me now!

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Toolmaking, Tools, 0 comments
Making a (rather fancy) Plane Hammer

Making a (rather fancy) Plane Hammer

A plane hammer is a tool that I’ve found myself needing for a while now, but every time I find myself at Lee Valley I end up finding other things to spend my money on and keep telling myself that I can make my own hammer. Well yesterday I was in a tinkering mood, so I made myself a rather fancy plane hammer.

Plane hammer - Making a plane hammer; Brass; Purpleheart; Rosewood

Purpleheart scrap for the head of the plane hammer

I raided my scrap pile to find suitable candidates for the hammer and decided on a piece of Purpleheart for the head and some Western Australian Desert Rosewood for the handle. I’ve had the WAD Rosewood scraps for some time now – these are pretty expensive and hard to come by in Canada, and they are a beautiful and dense hardwood, so I was saving them for a suitable project. The Rosewood has lovely purplish red splotches that I figured would go well with the Purpleheart head. For the brass side I used a threaded brass head, like the ones you see in cheap 4-in-1 hammers. With the stock decided upon, it was time to finally make myself a plane hammer!

Plane hammer - Making a plane hammer; Brass; Purpleheart; Rosewood

Rounding the head on the lathe

Initially I planned on making the head a simple round or rectangular shape, but then I figured I may as well have some fun with it. I used a ball peen hammer for inspiration as I’ve never seen a plane hammer made this way before. The first step was to cut the Purpleheart scrap in half and glue it up.

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Sawing the cheeks for the handle tenon

After glue up I squared up the piece and rounded it on the lathe.My handle stock was 0.5″ by 1″, so I decided on a mortise 0.5″ wide by 0.75″ long. I clamped the round stock in a vise and bored out the waste, and cleaned out the remaining portions with a chisel. At this point I decided to round the tenon instead of squaring the mortise, as the round stock wasn’t the easiest to chisel straight down on. Just to clarify – it wouldn’t have been safe to chop the mortise before rounding, as that increases the chances of catches and accidents on the lathe.

Plane hammer - Making a plane hammer; Brass; Purpleheart; Rosewood

Rounding the tenon using a rasp

I marked and sawed my tenon cheeks and got to work shaping the rounded tenons with a rasp. It pays to be careful here, taking it slow and trying the fit constantly. When the tenon was going halfway through the mortise, I marked the mortise with pencil to identify the tight spots and rasp accordingly. The resulting fit was pretty good, but had a little play along the length. That’s perfect though as I would be wedging the tenon anyways.

Plane hammer; Making a plane hammer, rosewood, purpleheart, brass

Threading the head for the hammer

I then got to work shaping the rest of the handle using an aggressive rasp followed by a finer one. The idea here is simple, whatever you do on one side, repeat on the other! Back to the head now, I chucked it back into the lathe and got to work shaping it like a ball peen. As always, I like to mark all the points at which features change or start in my workpiece. There were no essential measurements here (except for the  brass end, where it needed to meet the brass head accurately), so I just went until I was satisfied it looked good and ball-peen like.

Plane hammer; Making a plane hammer, rosewood, purpleheart, brass

The head shaped and finished!

As I mentioned earlier, the brass side of this plane hammer was threaded, so I figured I would drill and tap a hole for it in the head. This would make the brass head removable if I ever destroyed the hammer (not that it matters too much, but it’s nice to have the option). With the hole tapped, the only things left to do were wedging the tenon and finishing the hammer.

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The wedged tenon connecting the head and the handle

For the wedge, I drilled a small hole at the bottom of the tenon, which I sawed done to. I cut a wedge from a piece of Walnut, just eyeballing the measurements. The grain direction of the wedge should be flowing into the tenon (end grain up). Then it was a matter of applying some glue to the tenon, tapping it into the mortise, and tapping the wedge in place till it would no longer go any further. Once the glue dried I cut the portruding portion off and sanded it down flush. Oh, and finishing – I finished the head on the lathe (burnishing and paste wax), and for the handle I used tung oil and buffed it with paste wax.

Plane hammer; Making a plane hammer, rosewood, purpleheart, brass

The completed plane hammer along with some of the tools used to make it

And there you have it, a rather fancy looking plane hammer! I am extremely pleased with how it turned out, it feels solid and very well balanced. The head-handle joint looks perfect, and the woods used go really well together. I have always had a thing for beautiful tools as I find them inspiring, and I think this one is going in my regular use collection.

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The completed plane hammer without any of the tools used to make it!

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Toolmaking, Tools, 0 comments