Shoulder Plane

creasman

Board of Directors, Development Director
Jim
Staff member
Corporate Member
I've wanted a small shoulder plane for some time. As I was researching these I remembered an article I'd seen in ShopNotes (Vol 15, Issue 88) that showed how to make an infill shoulder plane that measures 6" x 2-1/4" x 11/16". Just the size I was wanting. I've been on a tool making series much of this year so I figured why not give it a try. This is the most ambitious tool build I've undertaken by far. I'm pleased with how it turned out. This will be a tool that I'll enjoy using.

Shoulder Plane.jpg


Working in steel and brass isn't all that different from working in wood, just a lot slower. My only real metal working tool is a machinist's lathe I purchased a few years ago. Most of the work here was done with a hacksaw and an assortment of files. If you have the copy of ShopNotes you can read the full details. I'll go over the main steps here for those interested in the process.

First step is fitting the dovetails that join the brass sides to the steel sole. The sides are made of 1/8" thick brass. Once cut these are fixed together using double-sided tape so the tails can be cut and the various holes drilled. Once the tails are cut the sole pieces are cut to length and the appropriate angle is filed to form the mouth. With the angles filed I carefully lined these up to have a gap that was slightly less than 1/16". The tails are aligned to mark the pins on the sole and then more filing! You can see the process, below. First use the hacksaw, then clean out the remainder with a file. The bottom picture shows a test assembly. I did this several times to adjust the fit and remove any high spots. One advantage to working in metal is that it's harder to remove too much material, making it easier to sneak up on a snug fit.
Filing Dovetails.jpg


Now for one of the interesting parts. If you look closely at one of the dovetails they appear to be "impossible" (lower right photo). What I mean is that both the sides and the sole have flared tails. The malleability of the brass is what allows this. Once the pins are cut in the sole, each is back-filed slightly as you see in the bottom left photo to create the double dovetail effect. The brass tails protrude about 1/16" above sole and you simply peen them down, "flowing" the brass into the cavity. The top photo shows the peening buck I made following the author's suggestion. This made the job much easier.
Peening.jpg


The final steps included adding the wood infill. I used quarter sawn ipe to make the wooden parts. There's really not much wood at all. I fitted the front and back sections of the body. As shown the back section has a hole drilled to accept the adjustment screw. There is also a slot cut for a square nut (not shown) that the rod screws into. With these in place drill out the holes for the brass rivet pins and peen these to flare each end. The peening locks everything in place. Besides making the adjustment screw the remaining work is a lot of filing and sanding.
Rivets and infill.jpg
 

Oka

Board of Directors, Vice President
Casey
Staff member
Corporate Member
Super Nice ! Well done !
What angle did you set the blade ?
How wide did you set the mouth ?
 

creasman

Board of Directors, Development Director
Jim
Staff member
Corporate Member
What angle did you set the blade ?
How wide did you set the mouth ?
The bed angle for the blade is 20 degrees. The iron is a #410 Clifton that I ordered from Woodcraft. It's filed at about a 22 degree angle, making the effective angle somewhere between 40-45 degrees.

The plans called for the mouth opening to be about 1/16". However, to get that as the final result you should start with a narrower opening, then file to the desired width at the end. The author includes a section on tuning the plane once all the shaping is done. The opening on mine is just a hair over 1/16". You want the opening to be square to the sole and for the iron to rest solidly on the bed angle so it doesn't slip in use.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
Very nice work, something I have always wanted to do.
Not sure I have the patience any more.
Your work is very impressive.
 

Michael Mathews

Michael
Corporate Member
Very nice piece! An heirloom for sure! Reminds me a lot of a Tony Rouleau (AKA Hillview Wood & Metal) work! Tony makes beautiful pieces just like this but in large batches. He'd probably charge in the neighborhood of $200 to $250 for something like this!
 

creasman

Board of Directors, Development Director
Jim
Staff member
Corporate Member
Reminds me a lot of a Tony Rouleau (AKA Hillview Wood & Metal) work! Tony makes beautiful pieces just like this but in large batches. He'd probably charge in the neighborhood of $200 to $250 for something like this!
Thanks for the info. I took a look at the gallery on their site. Very impressive work.

Counting the plane iron, brass and steel bar stock I have about $70 in materials in my plane. It would be more except I already had a piece of plate brass I used for the sides. If I were going to make these commercially I'd have to invest in a milling machine.
 

CaptnA

Andy
Corporate Member
Jim that is one of the neatest things I've seen in a while. There is a sense of satisfaction in using a tool one made that is hard to describe. Looks awesome and seems to function as well as it looks. Good on you sir!
 

marinosr

Richard
Senior User
That's beautiful. I had the pleasure of living down the street from Konrad Sauer and last year got to see him at work, and it blew my mind the number of hours a plane takes. It takes an incredible passion for perfection and a tolerance for tedium to make an infill plane like yours. Nice work!
 

creasman

Board of Directors, Development Director
Jim
Staff member
Corporate Member
I had the pleasure of living down the street from Konrad Sauer and last year got to see him at work, and it blew my mind the number of hours a plane takes.
@marinosr Thanks for sharing this link. I was not aware of Mr. Sauer or his work. Impressive. After spending some time on his site I am curious about what tools he uses to cut out the plane sides and soles. Does he use a milling or CNC machine, or does he do this all with hacksaws and hand files?

To make an infill plane like this you use basic joinery (e.g., dovetails, mortise and tenon, etc), only in metal instead of wood. I've been these joints in wood for a long time, but new to metal working. The biggest difference is in the tolerances. In metal the mating parts need to be spot on. If you look closely at my plane you can see places where there are slight gaps. I got better at this as a I went along, but to completely eliminate these using hand files would indeed be difficult. If Mr. Sauer has achieved that level of skill I am even more impressed.
 

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