Making an infill smoothing plane


Hi,
Has anyone out there made their own infill smoothing plane?
Maybe I'm dumb for even considering it, but I've been thinking about giving a go at making one. Dovetailed plate soles with parallel sides. I see on the web where a guy named Jim Yehle has documented the procedure pretty well:
http://www.xmission.com/~jry/ww/tools/a13/a13.html
I know, I could buy finished ones for some hefty $$$ or I could buy a kit from a couple of places (Shepherd, St James Bay, etc). But I figured it might be an interesting project to try to make one from scratch (I'd buy a blade since I know zero about tempering).
Just curious how many other people have gone down this road and what their experiences were.
Cheers, Nate
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wrote:

Yes - but then I live in Bristol, where it's a popular occupation.

If you can, I'd advise against that pattern. If you're a woodworker not a metalworker, then you'll find a cast body much less weird metalworking to deal with then building one from flat sheet and dovetailing it.
If you dovetail, make it from a mix of brass and steel - it just looks nicer. Making perfect steel dovetails so well that the final joint is invisible might be satisfying, but it's hard to explain it to others!
Personally I'd suggest your first should be simple and useful - a cast-bodied shoulder plane. Then think about a Norris-style infill smoother on a cast base. For a dovetailed body, go for a mitre plane (#9 style) - because it's the only way anyone can afford to get one!
You may also find a derelict Norris or Spiers and resurrect the sole from a pile of woodworm. There are rumoured to be piles of unmade Norris castings in existence un some fabled shed somewhere, but there are certainly enough basket-case examples popping up in sales (especially around Glasgow) to make this a not uncommon exercise.
(Some people consider it unlucky to ever use the name "Spiers" inside a workshop and always refer to it instead as "The Scottish Plane")
There's a lot of variation in body and handle style between makers. Some like the "clog" style for a small smoother (like a simple woodie), others want a Norris A5 or A50 style, with a low-set closed handle. I've never quite got the hang ot the square-bun Matthieson style and all its sharp corners. So pick the style you like first - you're stuck with it afterwards.

There's also a book by Jim Kingshott, "Making and Modifying Woodworking Tools" This is a well-written book and it's also good in that it decribes a range of styles and processes, not just one way to do it.

Buy the right blade. Really nice _old_ _thick_ Sheffield irons are still available as NOS (new old stock), from the right people (Bristol Designs). Clifton's recent "Victor" irons (the sort they use in the Bedrock patterns) work well in infills too
As to the heat treatment, then get a bar of O-1 steel, read the rec.knives FAQ and then make yourself some pocket knives. Heat treatment isn't that hard, if you're methodical about setting to and learning it properly.
Buy a Norris-pattern adjuster too. This is the best thing about an English infill (and why I prefer them to Scottish ones). However it's a complex bit of machining and not something you're going to make yourself, unless you have access to a well-equipped screwcutting lathe.
Kingshott describes both patterns of the Norris adjuster. Personally I prefer the twin-thread style. It's slower to adjust, but it also avoids the swivel joint and possible backlash that can introduce.
--
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Hi Andy,
Andy Dingley wrote:

I'm primarily a woodworker now but in grad school I built most of my own equipment and have fair experience with end mills and lathes. Of course at home I don't have equipment like that, but I am figuring that with persistence, hacksaws, files, and maybe a metal cutting blade in the scrollsaw I can make it work.
I've been avoiding the cast bodies because of the questions regarding flatness over time and the metal relaxation.

Heh heh. You are right.
Have you used regular brass? Some question in some literature I've read regarding work hardening and embrittlement with regular brass.

On this side of the pond they seem to be very rare and they seem to go for quite a price regardless of condition.

Now that's interesting. Why is that?

Right, I was thinking of a parallel sided plane like a #7 "Scottish Plane" but with a closed single piece handle. I am inclined to install an adjuster (looks like you can buy the adjuster through St James), but I wasn't sure about that.

Cool, thanks for the tip. I saw where Ron Hock had made a few 3/16" blades and also a few at Shepherd and St James Bay. I was leaning toward Hock because of familiarity, but I will check out Bristol Designs.

Excellent, thanks for the advice, Andy. If I get around to beating a few test plates together I'll post the results here.
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Sorry I missed the first of this thread...
http://www.shepherdtool.com /
You do know about these folks, don't you? Their classes, kits and galootapaloozas are reputed to be a lot of fun.
No personal experience as yet.
Patriarch
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Hey Patriarch,
Yup, I'm planning to borrow heavily from the Shepherd methods. I also thought about buying a kit from them, and might still do it. However, I like fiddling around with things and I was interested in the challenge of trying it from scratch. I ordered a little low-carbon steel to practice making the shell. It ought to arrive in a few days and we'll see how it goes.
Thanks, Nate
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Nate, 'bout 2 or 3 issues ago shopnotes had an article and plans to make one of the dovetailed sole type, wooden screw cap (lever cap, I'd use Ipe or lignum for that). You can probably buy that back issue. This article was all about "from scratch". This one is like a jack plane, like a #5. Or are you ready to make a detailed mold, melt ductile iron and pour?
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AAvK wrote:

No way am I up to melting and pouring. I'd buy a rough cast sole before I did that. Was figuring on trying the dovetailed sole route.
I will take a look around ShopNotes. Thanks for the tip.
Regards, Nate
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Oh... and here is a site for cheaper A2 and cap irons: http://www.spehar-toolworks.com/index.html Good luck.
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Thanks, Alex. Did you notice their saw on that site? Sure was a beauty for the price.
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I found it, the plane issue can be found through online extras, it is shopnotes #79: http://www.shopnotes.com/main/sn79-toc.html And on the following link there is the complete plan for a block plane: http://www.shopnotes.com/main/onlineextras.html as well as the cutting diagram you can print for the larger plane.
Those are nice saws but I am interested in Japanese dozuki rip saws for dovetail work as a starting point. I do like the Spehar blued steel of their blades. But for your plane, they also make a Norris blade adjuster.
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Thanks, Alex! Those are nice plans. I appreciate the pointers.
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