Thursday, December 3, 2009


As I have previously indicated, I have a growing fetish for handplanes. The last six months or so have resulted in a collection that has grown from a single Stanley #220 to over 20 different benchplanes. My collection includes Stanley #3 to #7 bench planes including a #4 1/2, a #45, #71, #75 and a range of wood bodied jack planes and coffin shaped smoothers.

I recently restored one of the Stanley #3's that I picked up for around R250 (about $33) on a local auction website. Considering that a current (crappy!) Stanley 12-204 retails for around R750 (about $100) I don’t think I did too badly on the purchase price especially considering that it included the shipping costs from Cape Town to Johannesburg.

It’s probably a Type 19 (1948 to 1961) that was in pretty good condition to start with: minor surface rust on all metal components and a sole that wasn’t too far from flat. I would hazard a guess at around a mid 1950’s model. I took care of the corrosion by means of electrolysis and also removed the original japanning. The tote and front knob were stripped, sanded and recoated with polyurethane varnish.

After spray painting the body black I set about tuning the plane. The frog was filed flat and lapped; the sole was flattened using a granite surface plate and water paper. The sides of the sole were lapped in the same fashion. The frog was bedded into the frog receiver with diamond grinding paste and copious amounts of elbow grease.

The iron was in fairly good nick so I simply flattened the back and went about putting a decent cutting edge on it. The cap iron was set and polished after I had fussed around with the iron.

Here are the “before” pics:

And the obligatory “after” pic:

The proof of the pudding was when I took to a piece of pine. I set the iron to take a fairly thick shaving and had one of those “WOW!!” moments when the plane sliced effortlessly through the wood:

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the shaving was thin enough to read through (The photo really doesn’t do the shaving any justice! And small things do amuse small minds!!)

Am I having fun with my growing collection of hand planes? You bet I am! Since I’m not going to be in a position to get my grubby little paws on a Lie-Nielsen or a Veritas plane any time soon owing to a truly prohibitive exchange rate, I’ve decided to go for the middle ground and experience the satisfaction of taking someone else’s “junk” and turning it into something that I can use and hopefully pass on to my son someday should his little sparks of interest in the craft continue to grow.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


After some considerion, I came to the conclusion that the registration of the right hand half of the jig need not be 110%. When routing a dado, the width will be set using the mating shelf and the two halves of the jig will thus automatically be parallel to one another.

Here are photos of the jig in use:

Here the jig is set to its default width of 3/8". This is the narrowest width that the jig will accommodate, and is determined by the diameter of the router bit - 3/8".

Here the jig is set to its maximum width of 50mm.

Using the shelf to set the dado width

Cut the dado with the router

The end result - a dado that is cut to the perfect width

The shelf fits perfectly into the dado without any fuss - a definite up-side when you have a lot of shelves to fit! All that needs to be done now is for me to fit the hardware that will facilitate a stopped dado.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


On the DVD cabinet front, work has progressed to the point where I need to cut the stopped dadoes for the shelves - and then it's assembly time! (One down, a few more to go...?)

The router jig is almost complete: I need to assemble it, and this is causing all manner of frustrations! I've made a left and right side for the jig that will facilitate the variable width dado, I have the hardware and the wood cut that will incorporate the fixed stop, I just need to fit it. The problem though, is that I need to join the two "halves":

My plan is to fix the left half to a strip of oak on the underside that will give me a perfect right angle for the dado; the right half will be attached to the same oak strip, but will have a slot cut in it to facilitate the adjustment needed for the variable dado width. The problem is to figure out a way to ensure that the right half is perfectly parallel to the left half.

I've had a couple ideas that didn't pan out quite as well as I thought they would... so it's back to the drawing board!

Perhaps I should head off to the myriad "free woodworking plans" sites for some ideas...!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I failed to mention that before I get going on my Roubo and the infill-plane, I have a stack of projects that need completing first.

Before I started work this morning, I had to take care of a few rust spots that had appeared on my band saw table, courtesy of all the rain we have had lately and a loose roof tile. I took to the table with Q20 and P360 water paper to remove the spots and then ragged on a thick coat of paste wax to seal the surface again (and hopefully prevent any more rust!). I'll tackle the roof tile tomorrow!

I then spent the day milling stock for a pair of DVD cabinets. I am making them from American White Oak - a species that I particularly enjoy working with (along with kiaat, imbuia and rosewood, in no particular order). The cabinets are designed to hold 160 DVD's each and occupy a minimal amount of floor space.

I will post photos of the project when I start assembly. All things being equal, this should probably be next weekend.

The shelves will be housed in stopped dadoes in the casework. Now the last time I made one of these cabinets, I battled to cut the dado width accurately, and ended up having to spend a great deal of time fitting the shelves. This was not time well spent, so I have resolved to make a router jig that can be used for any width dado. The jig will also have a positive stop to better control the end position of the stopped dado. So stay tuned for photos of the jig both during the manufacturing stage as well as in use!

And now I'm off to commiserate with myself on the Lion's truly DISMAL Super 14 performance at Newlands this afternoon! Perhaps they would be more successful at synchronised sleeping than they are at rugby!

Friday, February 27, 2009


This has turned into more of a head-scratcher than I thought - here I am with my very own blog, a head full of ideas and nothing to write about... so let me begin by telling you a little about me.

I live in Johannesburg, South Africa, and am an avid woodworker with a growing hand-plane fetish (there's something truly sublime about a well-tuned hand plane). That said, I'm not averse to electron guzzling machines. I try and select the best tool for the job, and if "the best tool" has a 220V umbilical cord attached, then so be it.

My favourite solid modelling program has got to be Google Sketchup. The projects I tackle begin as 3D models in this intuitive, easy to use package.
The most attractive feature of Sketchup is the purchase price (absolutely free!).
[Download Here]
Popular Woodworking and its sister publication Woodworking Magazine (check out my Blog List on the right) have a growing collection of Sketchup models
. So if you're looking for inspiration for a project, follow this link for a range of project plans that you can rotate, dissect and re-assemble to your heart's content.

I have a couple of "itches" that I'll be scratching in the coming months:

1. I've promised myself that I WILL build a
Roubo-style workbench for my woodshop. (I currently use a variety of work surfaces that no longer suit the type of work that I want to do)


2. I plan on building my own infill plane to satisfy my hand-plane fetish

Now I don't know which is the more challenging (daunting?) of these tasks, but I'll be keeping you informed of progress as (and when!) it happens.

That's about it for now... with my growing to-do list, I need to spend more time making wood shavings and less time in front of the PC.