Making a small smoothing plane

The third plane in this series is a small smoothing plane. This I made to abate my hankering for a Stanley No. 1 plane or a No. 2, pocket-sized planes that are hard to come by.

I knew I’d be building on the last two projects and making up the plane with glued-up parts. This one though, would have a rear tote, or handle, or at least somewhere to rest the palm of the hand.

The style of the plane is influenced by a razee plane, which is a wooden smoother with a handle that is set low so that the thrust of the hand is more behind the blade rather than on top. Philly Planes in England has an example, that they call a “toted smoother” i.e. a smoothing plane with a tote:


So, first off, I drew a sketch. This time on quadrille paper to make a full-size drawing. I drew a size view with a the bed of the plane, blade, wedge etc drawn with hidden lines. From that, I made a front view and a top view. The handle was just free handed. Not the prettiest.


Jatoba again for the body of the plane. I cut the bed at 50 degrees and scored the cheeks of each of the side with a knife against the blade of the bevel.


I made up a wedge from a piece of oak and clamped it to the blade. I let the blade ride on the knifed line and they used a straight edge to mark another line on the plane side. I pressed the straight edge down and removed the blade and wedge.


Then I knifed a line along the straight edge. This line follows the angle of the wedge down to a point where the blade contacts the bottom of the plane.


Between the two knife-lines, I chiseled out the wood to form a dado. This was done on both sides.

The rear part of the plane incorporates the bed and a tote. The tote was rough-cut on the band saw. This was tricky to do so I had to make a lot of stop cuts, hence its ragged look.


All the parts were then set up together to see how they looked.


The tote looked a bit big so I cut it down some. Also the side pieces were shaped with an ellipse toward the back end behind the blade.


Laying the parts back together they look a lot better.


Time to glue up. This part worries me as a lot can shift about. I went sparingly with the glue and didn’t clamp until it started to get tacky as this meant the parts didn’t slide around so much.


While that was setting up, I went and gave the blade a heat treatment. I mounted a gas torch in a vice.


Then I heated the working end until it got cherry red/orange and tested the temperature with a magnet to see that the steel became non-magnetic.


From then I quenched it in some clean motor oil. This gave off almost no smoke. Way better than using used motor oil.


I went to the toaster oven which I had been heating up.


I left the blade on the rack at 350F for an hour.

The aluminum foil contains some sugar that I left in to melt. It had all melted and this showed me that the temperature and heat was about right.


Taking the blade out of the oven it is possible to see the range of colors that come from oxidation due to heating. Also, it is blackened where it was dipped into the oil. This all was cleaned up and sanded until the blade was shiny.


I took the plane out of the clamps and tested for fit. It’s kinda small.


I fitted the blade and wedge and gave it a go on a piece of wood. It worked OK. I mounted the body upside down in the vise and planed its bottom until the mouth was open enough to let shavings through without clogging up.


Also, I noticed the tote was too tall to allow me to hit the blade with a hammer to set it, so that had to be reshaped. Also, I shaped the wedge. And the sides to match the tote.

I gave the lot a couple of coats of Danish Oil for a finish.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s