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Tifflin' & fiddlin' & fettlin'

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Doug11/05/2008 09:49:00
3415 forum posts
35 photos


I did get chance to see Daivd Charlesworth at a woodworking show. He was demonstrating Lie Nielsen planes if i remember rightly, though it was a few years ago.

He certainly had those planes set up beautifully, managing to take a full shaving off end grain oak. The result was the end grain looked polished, certainly something to aspire to.


Do you have a link to the Charlesworth student you refered to, though i dought i have time to achieve these standards, there is always something to learn.

Cheers all.


Mike Garnham11/05/2008 10:34:00
4114 forum posts
1 photos


the clip is here , and you have to select the top video from the list of 4 or 5.


I have decided to do it laminated....if it doesn't do the trick, I'll do it in solid timber next weekend!

Stop rubbing it in!!! You can see from all the curvy stuff I've made over the years that I would rather like a bobbin sander!......I've had to make another home-made drum sander for this job, due to the very small radii involved.

Picture later.


Doug11/05/2008 12:03:00
3415 forum posts
35 photos

Thanks Mike.

At £660 for a weeks course, i`ll have to wait till i win the lottery to attend one.Till then i`ll get by with my old No 8.


Mike Garnham11/05/2008 17:04:00
4114 forum posts
1 photos


660 buys an awful lot of wood!

Olly et al.......

new handle as promised:


Five 6mm layers of oak, laminated at right angles.


So thats it! My plane is completely finished for another 20 years!!!


Olly Parry-Jones11/05/2008 19:15:00
2776 forum posts
636 photos

Beautiful Mike!

But, come on! You can't leave the knob at the front of the plane looking like that?! Surely you have enough spare oak to turn a new one on your friend's lathe? You've gone this far...

By the way, after the success of my two smoothing planes, I decided to tackle the knob and handle on my Jack Plane. So, here are the results of before...



And then, after...





I'm delighted with how well these have turned out. They seem to have come out even nicer than the ones I did on my smoothing planes - but, I guess that's down to practice. There's was nothing wrong with the old finish at all, I just really don't like it and, as you can see, it was hiding such beautiful grain.

Mike Garnham11/05/2008 20:06:00
4114 forum posts
1 photos
You knew I was kidding, Olly.......


......and I didn't use a lathe!

Roughed out on the bandsaw, then whacked a 4 inch nail through it and put it in the pillar drill......started with a really course rasp then the belt-sander, and worked down to a fine sandpaper by hand. Liseed oil and wax.....job done!

Yours looks I right in thinking this was a cleaning-up job on existing handles, rather than starting from scratch?


Olly Parry-Jones12/05/2008 09:28:00
2776 forum posts
636 photos

That's right Mike. I really don't like those old thick, plasticcy varnish-type finishes, which eventually start to peel and lift off. So, I decided to bring out the hidden beauty of the timber with some oil and wax.

Not a bad job there Mike, for someone without a lathe. I'd have probably used a thicker wooden dowel rather than a 4" nail (I can rarely hit those things straight anyway...!) but, the results look like a definite improvement.

Mike Garnham12/05/2008 10:35:00
4114 forum posts
1 photos

........I didn't have to hit the nail straight........I drilled a tight pilot hole. Getting it out afterwards was a real pain!!

If and when I get a lathe I will turn a new knob up properly.

Mike Garnham09/05/2008 15:44:00
4114 forum posts
1 photos

In a previous thread Planes I described owning the 2 worst planes in the whole of England. I described my philosophy of not baming tools or forever seeking bigger and better tools, and suggested that my planes were plenty good enough. I had never heard of "fettling" a plane 2 months ago, and my planes had never been touched from the day they were acquired (apart, of course, from sharpening). I said that as far as all the stuff written about planes "I didn't get it".

Just to prove that I don't have a closed mind, and out of curiosity (would it make any difference?), I decided to have a go at fettling.

First stop: Andy King's article "Plane and Simple" Plane and Simple

Next top: the local glaziers for an off-cut of 9mm plate glass.

I decided to start with the base of the planes, because I had no idea whether they were flat or not.



Top one is the block plane, and the lower pic. is the no.4 1/2 (I'm told). Both are marked up with blue crayon.

I started with some medium wet & dry adhered to the glass, and began rubbing. It soon became obvious that this was not enough! So, on the other side of the glass I stuck some 120 grit sandpaper, and carried on rubbing. And rubbing.

Mike Garnham09/05/2008 16:20:00
4114 forum posts
1 photos


Neither plane was flat.


I forgot to take a picture of the block plane mid-work, but you can see that this plane is has a hollow sole (unlike me of course.......I am simply hollow, and have no soul......although I do have 2 soles!). You might be able to make out the shiny edges, and the shininess around the aperture.

It took a while, but in the end I achieved this:



You can see that the top picture (the larger plane) shows that I haven't removed all of the hollows. There is no logic in removing all that steel to get to a section of the base that has no relevence to the performance of the plane, so I stopped.

The bottom picture shows the block plane, which really had been all over the place, now entirely flat except for the 4 corners where mis-use by some previous owner had left quite a rounded-over profile. Again, I took the view that this couldn't influence the relationship between the blade and the wood, so left it there.

Mike Garnham09/05/2008 16:20:00
4114 forum posts
1 photos


My next job was flattening the plane irons.....(I've always called them blades!). This is something I have always done on an oilstone previously, each time I sharpened the blades. Using the glass and wet & dry, (a technique the Americans seem to call "scary sharp"!!!!) showed that my previous sharpening/ flattening hadn't been perfect. I knew my oilstone was getting a bit curved, and this was obviously making it difficult to keep everything nice and square and flat.

Both blades took a while, and the main difficulty lay in keeping an even pressure. I ended up using a block of wood with a screw head strategically placed.

Having realised how good a job this sand-papering was doing in flattening steel, it seemed obvious to put an edge on the blades at the same time, and this I did. They were fabulously sharp when I had finished.

Finally, the cap irons and lever caps got the same treatment.....and in the case of the block plane, this meant using the belt-sander to remove some great gollops of braze from the underside of the lever cap. For the first time since I had owned the block the blade made full contact with the cap when I had finished.

After a bit of final cleaning and oiling, everything was re-assembled. Two hours of filthy work (WD40 mixed with ultra-fine iron filings makes a paste that is almost irremovable!) I had 2 planes which certainly looked a lot better. I couldn't think of anything else I could do to improve them further.

So, did all this effort make them perform any better?

I grabbed some off-cuts and started planing.

The big plane cut beautifully! Nice cuts across the whole width of the blade, very even and making a sweet sound...........pretty much the same as before! If I am honest, maybe a 5% improvement, and I put that almost entirely down to the ultra-sharp square edge I had achieved on the blade (sorry, iron).

The block plane had never before been permitted to work on anything wider than about 15 or I tried it on a 30mm edge, and it did a lovely job. I then tried it on the flat face of an oak board, and whilst it wouldn't be my tool-of-choice in these circumstances, it certainly planed it rather well. That would have been impossible previously. I would score this as a 20% improvement, maybe.

If you are doing a scientific experiment, you only change one variable at a time, and test to see what difference it makes. I have altered the set-up of these planes wholesale, so I couldn't say with certainty which part of the work had led to the improvements. My feeling is that the major improvement came from getting the irons sorted properly and having a great edge, and that the flat sole was of marginal benefit.

Now that I have changed the tools, I must change how I use them and learn their new "feel" and capabilities. Was it really worth the effort? With the 4 1/2, probably not. With the block plane, which was a bit of a disaster it has to be said, definitely yes.

Now, where are my chisels........

Bob09/05/2008 17:29:00
85 forum posts


I've just read the above, and appreciate the work involved;but: was it really worth it?

I used the above article to set a new Stanley No. 5 up straight from the box, and found the information invaluable; I'm sure it saved me a lot frustration and swearing, but I didn't bother with flattening the sole, as I don't do that type of work - I do bodging and repair (as cheap as possible).


Andy King09/05/2008 20:05:00
170 forum posts
8 photos
19 articles

Hi Mike,

 looking at the first flattening pic on the smoother, it looks like you have contact points at the toe and heel, plus both sides of the mouth and just starting around the periphery. Now while the purists will say that isn't enough, I'd be happy with that, the start of any cut is bedding on a flat, the area in front of the blade then tracks this as the cutter bites, followed by the flattening behind the mouth. The hollow behind is pretty irelevant as the start of any cut should have pressure  on the toe of the plane. As it progresses, the final flat at the heel comes into play, and everything is hunky dory as its bedding on all four areas. As the plane exits the cut, the weight is transfered to the heel, so it's still all aligned through the cut.

The Japanese wooden planes are usually hollowed like this, so why not a steel one? It where you have a twist, hollow or convexity that you have problems. As i said, I try 'em first, then try and see what is wrong after!



Sparky09/05/2008 20:38:00
7631 forum posts
22 photos

I think you tend to plane in a way that compensates the defaults of a plane. If you notice certain problems when planing you change the way you use it. (if you know what I mean).

Mike Riley09/05/2008 20:48:00
337 forum posts
5 photos
5 articles
Mike further improvement may be gained by flattening and polishing the leading lower edge of the chip breaker so that it sits 100% flat on the iron and also by means of a quick dab of something like autosol over the sole of the plane with some fine wire wool, you might also want to start polishing the seat of the frog. I have done none of these things to my planes, but I have tried one of David Charlesworths planes (a Stanley no 5 / jack) which has had "the treatment" (TM) and it was certainly performing streets ahead of my own unfettled jack. Having said that David C's fettling is hugely thorough and his results are arrived at through a coming together of many things. It's a road that may be more than us mere mortals can bear to tread. Cheers Mike

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