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30 Dec. 1984

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Since the wooden block can be effected by temperature and the humidity, constant adjustments to the blade end within the wooden block will have to be made. This makes it possible to tap the iron part and bend the steel to make the tip of the blade touch the stone, without having to grind large surface. Deformed back is considered to be a shame among the top Japanese carpenters, but it is quite difficult to keep the back hollow in a nice shape. Japanese traditional style of wood working and construction does not use any sandpaper for finishing the timbre.
The mirror like finish is achieved by thinly (3 to 15 microns) shaving off the timbre with a razor sharp blade. Robby Tacheny05-20-2009, 1:41 PMI have been thinking about it and did some researching, and I can't seem to find any mention of low angle wooden smoothing planes. It seems like the forces on the plane iron would be mostly the same as on a standard angle plane, except I would think it would be less stress on the wedge, since the downward angle would be less.
So to me this suggests that one could make a low angle wooden smoothing plane and just use a longer iron.
Sam Takeuchi05-20-2009, 2:09 PMI do know there are some old woodie with something like 33 degree cutting angle, I can't name who made it or how it's like. I think there are low angle wooden planes out there, but the question is whether you are talking about bevel up or down low angle plane. When it comes to low angle bevel up planes, maybe there's too much force trying to push the blade out to hold iron firm in the position. Another thing is if there's a low angle bevel up jack plane of wooden construction, most of the body from the mouth to heel have to be gutted out to make room for the blade. I'm just guessing here, so maybe there are wooden low angle jack of better design or construction. To make a bevel up plane out of wood would require a blade almost the same length as the stock and the wedge and mortise would need to be really long unless the plane was really short. The bevel up concept I think was likely introduced in the 19th century with iron, infill miter planes.
Since usually the blade is attached to the bed and the bed is more flexible, stability is a big issue.
The thought is to reverse the normal holding method, and make the top of the bed the actual bed that the blade is held to.
I put up a picture of a copy of such a plane-probably back about page 20 by now,except it was sterling silver instead of iron for a presentation piece. Larry Williams05-20-2009, 11:16 PMI have been thinking about it and did some researching, and I can't seem to find any mention of low angle wooden smoothing planes. These planes have clearance angle problems for all but the lightest of cuts when using acute bevel angles of around 25?.
As you can see, the lower angle miter plane (top) with its mouth stop is a more complicate plane to make. Robert Rozaieski05-21-2009, 8:12 AMThese planes have clearance angle problems for all but the lightest of cuts when using acute bevel angles of around 25?. Bob Strawn05-21-2009, 9:30 AMI am thinking about trying my hand at building a wooden plane soon and thought that it might be neat to try a lower angle since all I currently have are metal Stanleys. If you are looking for low angle, the flush cut plane is one of the most overlooked planes and one of the most useful. I have done drawing of what I think could be a viable design for a Bevel Up Low Angle Wooden Smoother. Sam Takeuchi05-21-2009, 3:39 PMYou'll need something under the blade to support it, otherwise it'll flex and chatter. You'll need something under the blade to support it, otherwise it'll flex and chatterI tried to illustrate that under the blade. There are a lot of variables involved--effective cutting angle, how acute the cutting edge is, the depth of cut, the species of wood being cut, how sharp the edge is and others. I think clearance angle may be one of the most important factors in plane performance and it's almost always ignored. That might also be another factor why curly woods are so hard to deal with -- those fibers are at constantly changing angles relative to the plane blade, which would make the ideal clearance angle constantly changing as well. Grain orientation certainly plays a roll in how much spring-back happens when the fibers are severed. Sam Takeuchi05-24-2009, 9:43 AMI know it's little off topic here, but let me share a commonly quoted wisdom among the miyadaiku - carpenters who specialize in temple and shrine building and restoration, that the ancient wooden temples and shrines are build with wood surface so polished that they resist moisture and exposure.


Well, I must be the exception that proves the rule because out of all the things there is to know about planes, Japanese or otherwise, I can easily say that clearance angle is the thing that I know the least about.
The key here is that the Japanese plane has a relief along the entire sole of the plane in back of the blade. There are two things that I can think of that could make the planed surface be different with Japanese planes. On the other hand, the sole of a Japanese plane only touches the surface of the wood in two spots: the very front of the plane, and the area just in front of the blade. Even though that design ultimately stunk, I had fun and was surprised how just cutting the scale drawing out (paper pasted directly on the board) on the bandsaw yielded a plane in about 5 minutes. For bevel down planes, cutting angle is the blade's bedding angle, if the blade is flat and not tapered type (wedge shaped), and there is no back bevel.
To achive these low angles a bevel down blade seems to be the choice however, so low angle beds, despite the stability that they impart are going to cause more instablility at these angles.
The thought of a flush cut plane with a concave relief near the blade seems tempting, but it would not survive many sharpenings before it needed to be seriously reground.
One thing that is very different between turning and planing is the speed at which the wood and blade meet.
Bob Strawn05-25-2009, 11:25 PMOne thing that is very different between turning and planing is the speed at which the wood and blade meet.
A good, well tuned, Japanese middle finish plane will glide though cedar just about how I imagine the perfect plane would. The blade is set diagonally into the block, and the thickness of the shave is determined by the amount of the blade protruding from the sole of the block. The only reasoning against the notion seems to be that there may be less body mass (which may be less desirable) and that a low angle plane may not be any better than a regular smooth plane at the normal angle. I don't know, but just guessing from the design, I can kind of imagine blade getting dislodged quite easily. This gives an effective cutting angle the same as a bevel up plane bedded at 10 degrees with a 25 degree bevel. The steel could handle the very low bedding angles required for a bevel up plane but the wood infill still provided the bedding surface. The strike block is the early version and the miter plane came along later and relatively quickly replaced the strike block. An early 19th Century British catalog list both planes shows the miter plane sold for three times the cost of a strike block plane.
Wood fibers deflect ahead of a cutting edge and need room to spring back or you have to force the plane. Even taking relatively light shavings with an iron ground near 30? or slightly more the plane balks, requires a lot of force to use and generally acts as if it's dull when it's not. I show the blade going through the body only to show that a blade that is 4.25 inches (Hock block plane blade length) would be too long.
Without it, if you run it over a knot or unusual grain, the blade edge get snugged and probably dig in while blade is slightly bent. On a flat surface, it should plane ok, but at the end of the board, when you reach the very end of the board, the blade will slightly dig in once front part of the sole leaves the board.
A 12? bedded block plane has barely enough room for the spring-back if the iron is sharpened at 25?, very sharp and the cut is light. Wiley tells me those who use Japanese planes are, by necessity, versed in clearance angles. It took me a while to figure out the planed surface I want is a uniform dull surface with all the pores of the wood standing open and as little damage to the walls of the pores as possible. The design of having the bolt go through the block and going to a nut held the blade very firmly. I found out that the blade bedded at 12* took very smooth cuts, even though that design never produced thin shavings.
For the sake of discussion, ignoring the plane's body rigidity, 30 degree bevel down blade with 25 degree bevel will have only 5 degree clearance, which is quite insufficient for practical purposes.
First, like it was discussed earlier, a lot of 'meat' from the plane's body have to be removed to accommodate the blade, and weakens the body. I think that a spear plane or even the right slick, would give much the same result and more stability.
The spring-back of the wood is also what allows you to take those long over the shoulder type of shavings on a lathe.


A lot of Japanese carpenters who specialize in temple and shrine building utilize bevel down 37.5 degree planes, which is in fact a low angle in modern Western convention. The 12? was intended for the lightest of cuts in end grain or very soft woods while using acute bevel angles.
The closer you get to the natural cleavage lines of a wooden plane body the more likely you are to split a wedge set plane.
The miter plane, though, has a much lower bed angle and is a lot more prone to structural failure. I'm sure the frequently reported short edge life and accelerated wear to the flat bottom face of the irons of these planes is a direct result of inadequate clearance.
Also, I am thinking about trying my hand at building a wooden plane soon and thought that it might be neat to try a lower angle since all I currently have are metal Stanleys. I am thinking the blade length needs to be more around 3.5 inches or less which happens to be the length of the Hock Krenov style irons.
My middle pitch (55?) smooth plane cause, sharpened at 30? has 25? of clearance which is barely enough. But then I prefer to spend time working on wood than coming up with hypothesis and experiments. Plane is a very simple tool with long history (a couple thousand years at least), I'm quite certain what can be done with a wooden plane has been all tried regards to cutting angle and bevel up or down, what we see is the designs that didn't fail at some point in the history.
Control of depth of cut goes away, it takes more effort and work to push an obtuse iron through the wood and to force the plane into the fibers to overcome spring-back, and edge life suffers dramatically. I'm pretty sure there were and perhaps still are plane makers out there who make low angle bevel down planes.
Using obtusely honed irons in these planes only increases the deflection of the wood and increases the need for greater clearance angles. However, because my strike block is bedded at 35°, I found using the plane with this bevel angle problematic for all of the reasons you described. I am also considering trying design this with only a 2" blade so it would be less likely to flex. On the Internet, I often read descriptions of planed surfaces and it sounds as if some people think like I did before I realized all the problems a burnished surface will create in finishing and joint strength.
They had a lot of years and money to improve and refine those iron planes but in so many cases they never got it right.
Second, a 30 degree cutting angle doesn't yield any special result a plane with cutting angle between 35 and 40 degree won't do.
I've only been able to get this kind of cut when turning wet wood but I suppose it's possible on dry wood as well.
Some of the contemporary low angle bench planes out there are bedded at 20? or a little more and don't seem to suffer from reduced edge life at normal sharpening angles.
It's really easy to use that way but the plane, even though it's intended for light cuts, requires something close to a 15? clearance angle.
It happens because you plane past the front part of the sole, the only points supporting the plane is the blade edge and the heel. You've taken a specialty plane designed for end grain and soft woods and turned it into an even more specialized and limited capability scraper. You can grind the bevel to 20 degrees to make room for clearance, and add 5 degree back bevel, but then that would make your plane 35 degree cutting angle with a 25 degree bevel, totally making a 30 degree angle plane pointless. Another tool type that uses spring-back to control depth of cut is a spoke shave--the low angle ones like the wooden ones or the Millers Falls cigar shave. In the end, half gutted plane will be connected together with a very thin walls on either side of the plane iron, I really don't think they'll have the rigidity to withstand the normal woodworking abuse. To over come that, you need more sole on the back part of the sole where you can exert enough pressure to keep plane level without the front part of the sole, so that the blade leaves the end of the board straight. I suppose I could try to have the iron rehardened & retempered (it's not original to the plane anyway) but I don't have the ability to heat treat such a large, thick piece of steel. I find myself instead trying to avoid planing end grain if at all possible, or using my common pitch jointer on a shooting board instead.


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