I honestly am a little jealous of Chris. He often receives emails after customers receive their planes praising the workmanship of the final product. The beauty of the grain and figure, the feel in the hand when they go to use it, the craftsmanship and great performance of the planes. But, have you ever really considered the core of a molding plane, the blade?
I am going to show you the process I go through to build the blade that Chris builds the beautiful wood around to produce the final product that is a Time Warp Tool Works molding Plane.
I am often asked where to buy O1 (oil quenched) steel. Any machining supply house out there stocks precision milled steel stock. Regardless of where you buy it, it will probably be manufactured by Starrett. (Yes, the people who make all the precision tools)
What I have learned about machining from hard experience is every step you go through requires a thorough cleanup of some kind before the next step.
Cleanup is really important now as I am working to 0.001 accuracy. If the metal blank does not sit flat on the jig I end up with a blade tapered side to side, no good for what we need.
The tapering is the final set up for the structure of the blade; 1/16″ at the tang to 1/8″ at the profile. (above) After every blade taper, all chips, liquids and residue are cleaned from the jig and vise before setting up the next cut. A tiny chip of metal can ruin the position of the blank for the cut, turning it into a discard.
I am about 1 1/2 hours into the blade build a this point. Any mistakes from here start to be really costly from a labor point of view.
I get great accuracy on the hollow profile using a jig and an end mill. (above) The bevel is done on the grinder (below)
Another jig is used for the round profile (above) on one of the belt sanders set up specifically for this. The bevel is ground on a second belt sander, also set up specifically for the task (below)
Here we are with the sets of profiled & beveled blades. (above) If you look closely (click on the picture to zoom) you will see the milling marks from the tapering process. These have to be completely ground out before the blades can be heat treated. I do this on a low speed platen grinder (Lap Sharp) going through three grits ending at 220. The milling marks have to be gone at this point, as after heat treating, the blades become much more difficult to modify. If you are wondering about the discoloration on the bevels, it does not matter at this point. I have yet to heat treat the blades, so have not set the temper of the steel at this point.
We are a little more than half way through the process! Having fun yet? Next week, I cover a little history of our design, heat treating and the finishing of the 3/8″ blades. Stay Tuned!