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A few weeks back I contacted wacky woodworking tool dealer Patrick Leach about purchasing a 1/4 beading plane he had listed for sale. Unfortunately it had sold, but Patrick mentioned that he could probably find another for me fairly quickly, that was fine with me. Lo and behold I received an email last week notifying me that a serviceable plane had been found, I sent Pat the check, the check cleared, and Pat sent me the tool, which arrived on Friday. On a side note, I don’t know Patrick, at least not enough to call him “wacky”; I just base that on the wording of his monthly email, which sometimes are pretty amusing. What I do know is that Patrick has an impeccable reputation of finding high quality “user” tools that he sells at a very reasonable price.
This morning I went into my garage to work on the plane. Thankfully, the plane was in very good condition when it arrived. The iron was in decent shape, and at the least it didn’t look like the last owner attempted to sharpen it willy-nilly with a power grinder. The tang was a little bent, but I easily straightened it up with a ball-peen hammer. As for sharpening, I started with the back on the coarsest grit of the DMT diamond plate. There was a bit of a high spot, but the diasharp fixed that easily enough. I then moved to the fine grit, then to the 1000/8000 grit water stone. I had the back flattened in less than ten minutes. I then sharpened the bevel. For this iron only one of the bevels really matters, as the other one doesn’t really do any cutting. Still, I went the same course as I did with the back: coarse and fine diamond plate, and 1000/8000 water stone. Next was the bead.
To sharpen the bead I once again started off with a dowel, 3/16, with 120 grit sand paper. I moved up to 220 grit, 400 grit, then finished it off with the 4000 grit slipstone. Once again, I had wanted to strop it, but you will have to forgive me. The high temperature today was somewhere around liquid nitrogen, and my garage wasn’t much warmer, even with space heaters running, and I wanted to get my ass out of there ASAFP. I ran a practice bead on the same junky piece of pine I used for the 3/8 beading plane. After a few adjustments, I very quickly had a very respectable bead.
I finished off the plane by lightly sanding the wedge, and wiping the entire plane with linseed oil. I even poured some in the cavity because it was looking a little dry in there. After letting it soak for a while, I wiped it dry, placed it in the tool chest, and got the hell out of my garage with the water stones in tow. As I said, it is too cold in my garage to leave them in there. Still, I can’t complain, for less than $50 including shipping, and around 30 minutes of rehab, I got myself a very usable tool. I just wish it was warm enough for me to use it.
Saturday evening was cold, very cold, as in so cold it was not worth leaving the house. I had two things in mind, getting a coat of wax on my car, and hopefully finishing up the beading plane I’ve been working on for the past week. While my garage is attached to my house, it is technically an unheated space, and on a day when the high temperature is still 15 degrees below freezing, the garage can be a fairly uncomfortable place to be, in particular for your feet, legs, and knees. I decided to be proactive and run not one, but two 1500w space heaters for several hours before I even attempted to do any work in there. So I braved the local car wash, brought the car back to my semi-heated garage, and got a coat of wax applied; I then turned my attention to the beading plane.
As I had mentioned in previous posts, I spent a few hours cleaning the old plane and getting the iron back in shape. While the iron was not in the best condition, it was at least fairly square across the front, and the bead profile was clean (as in no nicks), but dull as sin. I spent a decent amount of time grinding, squaring, and honing the front edge as well as flattening the back. I then used some 220 grit sand paper wrapped around a 3/8 dowel to hone the bead. That did wonders, and the plane actually produced a clean bead. On Saturday evening I took it a step further and honed with 220, 320, then 600 grit sandpaper, once again using the dowel as a profile guide. I then used my 4000 grit slipstone to finish it off. While the appearance of the iron did improve somewhat, the cutting action improved greatly. On an 18 inch piece of scrap pine I produced a clean bead in less than a minute. The shavings were all even and nearly full length, though a bit thicker than I felt they should be. It’s now up to me to find the optimal depth of cut. That process will be little more than trial and error, as this is my first moulding plane. As far as the rest of the plane is concerned, I cleaned up any fuzz, and while the ding on the boxwood is still there, it does not seem to be affecting the functioning of the plane. Though I do have a plan that will hopefully help with both using the plane and keeping it repaired.
A few weeks ago when this process started I decided that some help wouldn’t be a bad idea. My search for books on the subject did not lead to anything that really caught my eye. I did, however, notice a video being offered by Lie Nielsen entitled “Making Traditional Side-Escapement Planes with Larry Williams”. I ordered the video and it arrived on Friday afternoon. I set the video on the kitchen counter and it strangely “disappeared”, not to turn up until yesterday. Being that my wife and myself were the only two people in the house who could physically reach the video where it was placed, and being that my daughter was the only other person present…..Well let’s just say that a conspiracy theorist may just surmise that the video was purposely misplaced. However, I would never presume to accuse my wife of such a dastardly act. Either way, I have not watched the video as of yet, but I do think it will offer a lot of insight on how moulding planes are made, operated, and maintained. Best of all, if I ever decide to attempt to make a pair of hollow and round planes, or purchase an old set to refurbish, this video should give me an excellent start.
Though I had a busy day planned today, in particular with a blizzard impending, I managed to get in just a few more minutes with my beading plane, and it was well worth it.
To sharpen the actual bead on the plane iron I decided to give the sandpaper a try. I wrapped a piece of 220 grit around a 3/8 dowel and proceeded to hone. In roughly 5 minutes, I managed to get a nice looking iron. I proceeded to give another practice bead a go, and the results were impressive. The shavings were a lot more even and the bead more crisp. When I get more time, I will hone to a higher grit as well as use the slip stone. All in all, this rehab seems to be going very well.