After running some errands today, I decided to give my Ron Hock Block Plane Kit a try. So I brought a piece of plywood, some clamps, a mallet, a back saw, and some bees wax and set up a mini workstation right at the computer desk. The reason I did all of this is because I wanted to watch the video on the Hock Tools website while I constructed the plane. The plane did come with instructions and they are pretty clear, but I’m not necessarily an instructions kind of guy, at least when it comes woodworking. This is one of the reasons I rarely follow woodworking plans. In woodworking everybody does their thing just a little bit different, and if I follow plans to the letter and come to a point where I do something a little bit different than the plan says to do it I usually end up a little upset. I try not to get a little upset when I woodwork; I don’t always succeed, but I try.
The kit itself comes the front, back, and side pieces pre-milled from a piece of Bubinga. It also includes the cross dowel, a small dowel pin for initial lining up of the plane, and a Hock plane iron. The iron itself is about an inch wide and twice as long. I would call it cute, if cute was a word that you used in woodworking. I watched the video and followed the instructor closely, using the piece of plywood as my flat reference surface and ersatz workbench. I lined up the back, front, and sides of the plane and after checking to make sure the bottom was flush and the mouth distance was correct, I drilled 1/8″ holes and inserted small cuts of the tiny dowel in the holes to keep the plane alligned, and dry assembled the plane. After I was satisfied I waxed all of the areas that wouldn’t be glued, disassembled the plane, and glued it up. While the plane was drying I headed into the garage the sharpen the iron.
The Hock plane iron sharpened beautifully. I first flattened the back on a 1000 grit water stone, and then the iron. I use the Veritas sharpening system (the original one) After less than ten minutes I had the bevel ground to where I wanted it. I then used the 8000 grit stone to add a secondary bevel. I got the iron razor sharp in less than 15 minutes. Had I used a powered grinder, or if I was a better sharpener, maybe it would have went even more quickly.
After the glue was dry I brought the plane down into the garage to flatten the sole. At this point I was supposed to remove the wax with mineral spirits, but sadly I didn’t have any. Rather, I placed a sheet of 60 grit sand paper on my table saw wing and started the flattening process. I progressed up to 220 grit and after a few minutes the sole was looking good. The last major operation was opening the mouth of the plane and trimming the wedge to fit. To trim the wedge I used my Jack plane and the open the mouth I used a file. I probably opened the mouth a hair too wide but after a little fiddling with the wedge I had the plane taking full length shavings from the side of a scrap piece of pine. The video recommends shaping the plane to final fit using a band saw and sanding station, two tools I don’t own. I will figure something out to get it shaped up. After I get the rest of the wax off I will probably apply a few coats of linseed oil.
This was truly a fun project. After about two hours I have working block plane with a really nice blade. If I can use it simply to make chamfers and do some trimming I will be happy. I said it before, I’m not a tool maker, but this kit makes me want to try another of Ron Hock’s plane builds. I am pretty impressed and would recommend it to anybody who wants to attempt making their first hand plane. It was really satisfying and inexpensive. I think I know what I want for my birthday.