Monday, December 16, 2013

Japanese marking gauge

For quite a while, my only marking gauge has been a Stanley 97, refurbished with some parts from Lee Valley. It's ok, but I need something better…even more than that, I need more marking gauges. It definitely makes marking out easier if you can set a couple different gauges at certain distances, then leave them at those settings until you're done marking the piece out. Saves a lot of back and forth.
Anyway, here is my first attempt, in the japanese style. White oak (scrap left over from the log I bought in the spring) with cocobolo wedges. The knife is made from a piece of old jointer blade, .095" thick.

In the pictures, the gauge is set up for right-handed use, but I've since reversed the beam so it can be used left-handed. This has the added benefit thatpushing on the fence tightens the wedge.
The gauge works very well, especially for a first try. It's definitely an improvement over the Stanley; it marks a much deeper line (when desired) and the big fences is easier to keep registered against the work. Some things that I'll improve on next time:
- Attach the blade to the end of the beam, perhaps using one of the snazzy replacement blades from Hamilton. It would be nice to be able to see the blade while I'm marking, not have it obscured by the beam.
- Scale the parts down. The gauge is a bit clunky; it could be more delicate and graceful, which would make it easier to use.
- I may opt for a knob adjuster, rather than the wedge. The wedge works fine, but it would be nice to compare the two approaches.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Making a rabbet plane

Well, the planemaking madness continues. Until now, all the planes I've made are bench planes. But joinery planes are really essential, too. Various writings by Larry Williams and Matt Bickford have convinced me that a square rabbet is the most desirable rabbet plane, but these are hard to find--most of the rabbets you find in the wild are skew rabbets. A skew rabbet tends to pull toward the board, so it's nice to use with some sort of fence or batten, but very hard to control freehand. Fillister planes are also skewed.
To get a sense of how useful a square rabbet can be, check out this video of Bickford.
Matt also did a nice tutorial that I followed pretty closely.
I decided to make the plane out of a piece of quartersawn jatoba I had. The sole of a rabbet takes a beating, so you either need to make the plane out of something hard, or box the sole.
Before starting the plane, I made a simple saw/chisel guide. These are extremely handy. This one is cut to 55° on one end and 65° on the other, with a groove down the middle that fits over the plane's body.

I started by making two cuts with a backsaw to define the throat, using the guide.

Then I drilled a 1" hole with a forstner bit, and knocked out the waste.

After that, I drilled a hole down from the top, then used chisels and vixen files to refine the wedge mortise. I carved the escapement with an incannel gouge, then refined it with a file and sandpaper.

Here's the finished plane:

I almost forgot: The plane is left-handed! When you live in a righty world, making something specifically for lefty use is always great.