Plane

On Tue, 31 May 2005 12:06:48 +0100, doozer

If you are going to do a fair amount of work or unusual shapes, it's worth getting a) a table saw and b) a planer/thicknesser (or separate planer and thicknesser.
This allows you to buy sawn rather than prepared timber and to machine it to exactly the required sizes. There is often quite a price hike for prepared timber even in standard sizes. If you want it machined to size it gets very expensive.
So to some extent, if you are committed to making things from wood then you can justify the machinery costs.
For example, over the weekend I was making a ramp with 2.5 degree slope for my parents' garden. This involved cutting 2.4m joist bearers at this angle along the length. I was able to do this on the table saw pretty easily once I'd worked out a suitable jig. I needed the same angle across the width oof a piece of board and was able to do that in the thicknesser using a jig.
I still used a handplane to finish in a few places, though.
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I feel like such a dip stick asking but where is the best place to buy wood? At the moment I have been practising with the sort of wood that you can get from the various sheds which pretty much means ply and pine but obviously I don't want to always use that. This is like being 17 years old again and going to buy your first car without the faintest clue what to look for :o)
How much would you spend on a table saw? I suppose more importantly would it survive being kept in a detached garage (prefab concrete job that gets pretty damp in winter)? I suspect that it would only last a couple of years which is one reason I have put off investigating getting one.
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Probably a specialist hardwood importer/supplier is the best place to go. As you say, it's a pretty esoteric world, so you've got to do a bit of reading up on what you want before you get there, and then you may have a bit of a chance when they ask you questions like whether you want boards supplied waney edge, etc...
Best thing is to go down to a supplier and have a look around and discuss requirements with them - I've found them to be quite accomodating in the past. After walking through the normal sheds and BMs with rows of stacked, machined softwood there is something quite wholesome about going to a supplier seeing what are basically trees just sawn through and stacked. Gets you back in touch with what you're creating stuff from - bit like difference between seeing a butcher jointing up a carcass and seeing it stacked in plastic containers on supermarket shelves (apols if you're veggie - in that case it's like prepared salads versus a greengrocer's stall!!!).
Whereabouts are you?
SL Hardwoods in Croydon were good for me when I had a big project underway. I don't currently have tablesaws, planers, planer/thicknessers, etc (nor have space for them at the moment) so had to get the timber machined by them - this is unfortunately a very expensive way to buy hardwood. However, they accepted a cutting list, pointed out where some of the specs needed to be changed (outside the max widths of commonly available timber of the species I was after) and then priced the whole lot up & supplied it machined bang on spec.
They've got me hooked, and I'll be back to them. The Christmas card was the icing on the cake!
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Richard Sampson

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I'm an omnivore - I know what you mean.

Southampton - will travel to get good wood / advice

We have a B&Q Warehouse just up the road and I got them to cut some ply wood for me. The service was generally very good and the accuracy was fantastic (better than 1mm all round even though they claim 5mm). In fact the only thing that let it down was the guy had trouble understanding grain direction and size on one small fascia piece - he first cut it to cm rather than mm even though every measurement was in mm then, when trying to correct his mistake, he cut it with the grain running in the wrong direction.
However,

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On Tue, 31 May 2005 14:46:29 +0100, doozer

Not at all. The woodworking magazines have ads for a reasonable selection of suppliers of hardwoods around the country.
However, most sell sawn rather than machined timber. Several, such as SL Hardwoods sell pallets of offcuts which can be good for smaller projects and relatively inexpensive.

There are several questions here.
I have a large detached garage to use as a workshop which was originally unheated and uninsulated. Since I wanted to equip with good quality machinery, I decided to deal with the workshop first. Therefore, I insulated the walls and roof with Celotex in a stud frame clad with ply. This meant that instead of needing about 12kW of fan heater to make it remotely suitable for working in, I could heat it in the depths of winter with 3kW. I then created a secondary central heating circuit run from the house system via a heat exchanger and installed radiators. THe result is a dry workshop at 18-20 degrees at any time.
Having done that, I invested in a good quality (Felder) combination machine consisting of table saw, spindle moulder, planer and thicknesser. For the shape of the space that I have, this provided the most optimal use. In other cases, separate machines can be more convenient. This one will take apart if I ever wanted to do that.
However, you don't need to make the level of investment that I did to get good results.
Table saws come in several bands of price. The very cheapest around 200 from DIY stores are really quite poor. The fences are flimsy, can't be set accurately and results disappointing. If you go for something around 500-700, it gets a lot better. The fence and general mechanics are much improved for example. However, the table size is still relatively small and typically aluminium casting. You can put infeed and outfeed tables around it to improve stability and there is still reasonable portability.
At about 800 and above you get cast iron table, a more powerful motor, a larger table, a better fence etc. The machine also becomes less portable but can still be wheeled around. For example, my combination machine weighs around a tonne in total but is on a rolling carriage and can be moved around reasonably easily.
You can buy a portable thicknesser (Americans call them planers) for about 300 and up. They aren't bad, but because of the mechanics will tend to produce snipe (planing marks) at the ends of the piece. You can get around this by using longer material.
You can buy a planer (Americans call them jointers) for about 400 upwards with cast iron tables. The more expensive ones are wider and have better mechanics. The purpose of these is to produce a flat planed surface on one side of the timber and then another at an angle (normally 90 degrees) to it.
There are combined planer/thicknessers for about 600 and up which work well and usually can deal with 300mm wide material or more.
Reasonable combination machines start at around 3-4k.
This lot, plus a compound mitre saw would provide most of the machinery requirements. You would also need a dust and chip extractor - cost starting at about 300.
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.andy

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Andy Hall wrote:

Many thanks. That's more than I could have hoped for and provide me with ample food for thought.
I hadn't thought of lining the inside of the garage, now you mention it though it seems like a no brainer.
Cheers
Graham
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On Wed, 01 Jun 2005 11:27:58 +0100, doozer

It wasn't that expensive to do either. You can buy second grade Celotex from www.secondsandco.co.uk, although with transport it may not be cheaper than a builder's merchant. I put together a complete shopping list including timber and ply and other materials and faxed it to several builder's merchants telling them that I wanted a project price. This brought the costs down considerably.
My garage has a pitched roof with roof trusses, so I boarded that over (but didn't insulate at the "ceiling" level). I fitted insulation between the rafters, leaving an air gap for ventilation behind. Thus the roof area is not full heated (cutting costs a bit) but doesn't get cold or damp either.
I then built timber frames from pressure treated 75x50mm timber and bolted them to the "ceiling" joists and via Rawlbolts and DPC material to the concrete floor. THere is a small airgap behind the framing. I then fitted insulation between the frame components and fitted 18mm ply to the frame. This also has the advantage that you can easily fit things like shelves, cupboards or whatever anywhere.
Celotex is very light and I also insulated the doors, while at the same time draught proofing them with plastic strips.
Even if you don't go to the lengths that I did and add the CH feed and have to use electricity, 3kW is a lot more reasonable than 12kW. I have a setback arrangement on my heating so that the temperature doesn't go below 10degrees, and it also means that everything remains dry.
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On Tue, 31 May 2005 14:46:29 +0100, doozer

Back of Furniture and Cabinet Making mag - read the ads. Pay attention to finding the right supplier - it's the biggest single difference you can make to price, choice and quality. You shouldn't have any trouble finding somewhere, but you're completely stuffed if you try to do real cabinetry with carpentry timber.
Buy UK-grown hardwoods; ash or beech are attractive, cheap and easily worked. French oak is OK, not as good looking as UK, but the US stuff is generally either expensive or rough (their maple's OK, oak needs to know what you're about).
Avoid tropicals. They're either a bad idea conservation-wise, or they're strictly for outdoor / esoteric use and will be difficult to work with.
I use these people: http://www.interestingtimbers.co.uk (good on-line prices) http://www.bendreybrothers.co.uk
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Electric planes are indoor chain saws, ;( very useful but not really going to produce fine cabinet making. You can find good second hand planes Record or Stanley ( the older the better as the newer ones seem to be made from ex Chinese railway lines ) at boot sale for very little money, learn to use and sharpen one of these and they will last a lifetime.
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wrote:

Haven't looked specifically for planes recently, but eBay used to be a pretty good source for reasonably priced planes if you know what you're looking for.
Patrick Leach's "blood and gore" webpages are a fairly good intro to Stanley Bailey planes - history and model numbers. http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan0a.html
For further reading, "The handplane book" by Garrett Hack has a lot of info on tuning and what to look for when buying planes, it's also a very nice coffee table book showing the beauty and diversity of hand planes. There is also a lot of info on using planes in there.
Other than that, just google around a bit. http://www.geocities.com/plybench/plane.html has a fairly useful collection of links (tho if you're going to be reading around the subject you've really got to get the terminology right - replace the word "blade" with "iron" when reading this page!!!).
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Richard Sampson

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Interesting. Mine (my father's really, and might have been his father's) is the Stanley #4, apparently manufactured from 1869-1984.
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writes:

Probably the most common of all hand planes. But, there are #4s and there are #4s....
I have two.
One is a brand new Stanley Handyman, given to me as a present a couplle of years ago - not up to much really fine-woodworking-wise, but with a little iron tuning and proper adjustment (as much as can be adjusted on a handyman) it does a reasonable job as a rough joiner's plane - shaving down tops of doors, adjusting high spots on joists, etc. Even at that, it's a bit of a pig to use.
The other one is a different beast altogether. Bought from eBay for far less than the price of a new one, its a '30s or '40s Bailey (straight slot on the cap iron rather than the later kidney shaped one, other patent date stamps and give-aways, but I can't remember the exact type number (read "revision")), with a "sweetheart" iron. Didn't need much cleaning up, but the iron needed a little sorting out. Sharpened it up using the "scarey sharp" method (sheet of glass & abrasive papers), tuned the cap iron a bit, adjusted everything properly. It's an absolute gem, planes like a dream and the iron keeps it's edge during extended planing sessions.
Electric planes may be functional & save a lot of time when doing rough joinery, but I wouldn't let one within a million miles of any finer work.....
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On 31 May 2005 10:14:12 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@cucumber.demon.co.uk (Andrew Gabriel) wrote:

Common as anyting - most people find themselves with half-a-dozen before they realise. I've got one on a string that pulls a gate shut.
You can date it accurately here, if it's American http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/9147/flowchart.html or more awkwardly here, which generally translates better to the English ones. If it's old, it may well be US made anyway. http://www.tooltrip.com/tooltrip8/stanley/stan-bpl/bailey-types.htm
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(Andrew

Excellent, thanks Andy. From the first link I've just identified mine as a Type 15, so somewhat earlier than I had previously thought (1931/32) and fits with the sweetheart iron & Stanley on the lever cap (I had wondered whether or not these were the originals).
Glad I perservered with the eBay auction - planes beautifully!
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wrote:

That's probably the best type to have - especially with the Sweetheart iron. These were laminated and take an excellent edge.
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On Tue, 31 May 2005 08:36:56 +0100, doozer

Jeff Gorman's web site. http://www.amgron.clara.net/planingpoints/planeindex.htm
A little book called "Planecraft", a '50s advertorial published by Record. Couple of quid off eBay.
Avoid replaceable blade planes. They're a bad idea, always were, always likely to be so. They don't work because they're intended to be sold to people who don't plane and don't need to. If you never ask more from it than to chamfer a bit of pineywood 2x4, then you can use this stanleyknifeblade thing. OTOH, you could just as well use your penknife.
An alternative is to get a spokeshave instead. For a lot of rough carpentry, it's a better tool than a plane. Find old Stanley #63 or #64 models (the little ones, sometimes seen as "kids models") which work well, when the more common #51 or #151 models are too crudely made to be much use. Or else an old wooden spokeshave, although these can be awkward to sharpen if in poor condition.
IMHO, a reasonable workbench needs three planes on it. A Stanley #5, a #4 and a small block plane. If you're doubtful, the block plane is probably the most useful.
The #5 is the most useful for general bench use. They're common and they're a better size than a #4. Couple of quid off eBay will do you, or else most car boot sales. Almost any of them that aren't actually broken or have bits missing will work fine - read Jeff Gorman's notes on how to sharpen and fettle them.
The #4 is even more common than a #5 - you can usually find them growing under benches in abandoned sheds. It has even been suggested they're the rustic adult form of the wire coat hanger, well known for spontaneously generating in dark wardrobes.
With a #4 as well as a #5, you can adjust them differently and leave them that way. Set the #5 up as a bench plane, set the #4 as a smoother (JG's notes again). A second #4 can even be rigged as a "scrub" plane for rapidly shifting timber and leaving a rough finish. Use your roughest, adjust the mouth wide open and sharpen the iron with a large crown (curve) to the edge.
The block plane is an essential tool, even if you're mainly working with power tools. Spend the money and buy a Veritas low-angle block plane from Lee Valley in Canada. http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&p2685&cat=1,41182,41189 This is one of the best-made and best-designed modern hand tools it has ever been my pleasure to purchase. They really are that good.
As you won't spend this money, find an _old_ Stanley or Record block plane with a decent adjuster (i.e. not the unadjustable monsters with the screw clamp alone).
Don't buy new planes. Stanley are rubbish. Record aren't much better. Rolson, Anant etc. are insufferable and pretty much useless. New block planes are even worse than bench planes. The only new planes worth having are from the better makers - Lee Valley / Veritas, Clifton, Lie-Nielsen etc.
So buy old S/H planes and use them - far better tools, and cheap too. Electrolysis (Google rec.woodworking) takes rust off, plenty of other guides tell you how to restore them.
You will need to sharpen any plane you expect to do good work with. Read Leonard Lee's "Sharpening", or Google for "Scary Sharp" (sandpaper and glass - cheap and easy)
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Perhaps you'd care to expand on that superficially wrong statement?
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wrote:

It's about right, if you consider that "as close to the cutting edge as possible" doesn't mean as close to the cutting edge as it can go. The curling or back irons of my planes are all within between 2mm and 5mm of the cutting edge. That seems pretty close to me considering the comparative chunkiness of standard plane irons. My Dad bought a "Razor-Plane" once. It took used razor blades. It didn't take them far though. :) -- Regards, Mike Halmarack
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Mike Halmarack wrote:

Ah, that wasn't said, though! If the statement's altered, it's OK.
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Not when you clip the other part of the post.
A decent plane consists of a very rigid body, and a well supported rigid and sharp blade.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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