Ah, the sin of hubris. It usually bites me about half way into a project. Like this one.
I was cleaning out the blade bin and finally committed to chucking out some blades that were well past their “best used by” date. But wait! Doesn’t Bill Carter cut down blades for his small miter planes? Hmmm. So I cut them up; even though there was less than ½” below the slot, they are hardened to about an inch above (cut the top with a hacksaw, the bottom with an abrasive wheel). They would make nice marking knifes.
I then proceeded to crank out a tiny (4″ x ¾”) sole and body, no plans, no nothing, just metal, a mill and torch. The sole is ¼” mild steel with a silver brazed steel ramp; that way I have a one piece ramp that never, ever moves or changes (unlike a wood infill).
I used a technique I got from Karl Holtey’s blog and put a rabbit down the sides, it is supposed to render any gaps invisible and should lend a bit of support to the sides. And I find a sole of that thickness on a such a small plane a bit jarring.
I dislike split soles, I just don’t like the idea of a hinge/break there. So I cut the bed/mouth in one setting on the mill. I mounted the sole at 20º and roughed it with a ¼” endmill, then switched to a 1/16″ to make the mouth area as square as possible (ie remove the radius from the ¼ cutter). I cut until the bottom of the sole just starts to bulge, that give a about a zero mouth, lapping the sole will open it up. I cut the mouth a little wide (½ the diameter of the endmill on each side) so I don’t have to file it square. I messed up here and the mouth is way too wide or the blade too narrow, I haven’t decided yet, maybe I’ll retrofit some “kickers” to center the blade.
The brass was work hardening a lot from the bending so I annealed it by heating it to a dull red and dunking it in water. Boy, does that work well.
Then proceeded to assemble the sides to the sole. And the wheels fell off. You may have noticed I put the tails on the sides, because I feel that the wedge wants to lift the sides off the sole. Well, I made a really bad choice because the brass wasn’t near as noodley as I somehow expected and it really, really did not want to flex and slip onto the pins. I made a royal f’ing mess of things but managed to get it assembled and peined. I was not a happy camper. After a big time-out, I decided to go for the old and distressed look. Still, it a major effort to get the sides sorta straight. Next time, tails on the sides just like everybody has done it through the ages. And file some voids to move metal into (yuck, I’d rather not move lots of metal).
For the bridge, I used a chunk of steel and carved on it a bit. And brazed it in; at this point I just didn’t feel up to pinning it. I milled the front square, reduced the thickness of the toe and brazed on a face plate. Konrad Sauer has a nice article on how to file a lamb’s tongue (scroll down a bit), that is simple and fast so I tried it. And it is. The wood (Cocobolo) is just about done, waiting for glue and lacquer to dry.