Without any doubt….my little Scottish infill panel plane is my most “go to” plane of all.
Another masterpiece from my favourite auction site…this plane came to me fairly cheaply but in need of quite a bit of work…
The things needing doing were:
1) Lever cap screw missing
2) No iron or cap iron
3) Large chip to rear handle
4) Heavy staining to steel parts
5) Very dirty and poorly oiled infills.
The first thing to tackle was the chip to the rear handle…as the sharp edge was very uncomfortable to hold and would certainly render the plane unusable for any prolonged periods.
Like all these repairs…knowledge gained from restoring vintage guitars came in to play and the first rule of thumb is to cut out all damage completely…..
Pretty frightening! The beautiful double sided Japanese Ryoba plane comes into its own here as you can safely cut down to just shy of the required depth by adjusting the saw accordingly.
It is a testament to the usefulness of Japanese tools in general, that I can use them with great precision to repair an old British infill….one of my Japanese bevel-edge chisels being used to tidy up the remaining wood…
A number of very specialist tools are useful both in guitar repairs and making as they are to the repair of these valuable planes.
Veritas make a cute little shoulder plane….
Most people consider this a toy..or just a beautiful example of miniature engineering…
…..but as you can see…it can be used with great results to trim a 90 degree corner very precisely indeed!
The next stage is to graft a piece of similar wood to the old stock so that the grain matches as perfectly as possible. No two wood pieces 100 years apart can possibly match exactly but I take care to source a piece of the same wood…with approximately the same grain…orientate it so that it lines up with the original and glue it in place…
A bit “Heath Robinson” clamping but it is essential that clamping pressure is even and from both directions.
I always use Titebond Original in these repairs. In tests on mahogany neck grafts, the wood will split again before the glue joint will break. Don’t ask me how I know this!!!
The “patient” then needs to be bandaged to protect the surrounding wood…we don’t want to slip with a chisel and damage the existing good wood even further…..
Once the wood has been parred down to a rough shape the bandages can come off and because the Japanese chisel is so very sharp and controllable….precise shavings can be made to shape and finish the graft…
The grain can now be seen and it matches fairly well considering the difference in stock…
The staining of the new wood and the matching of this to the old is where care needs to be taken. I mix my own dyes. There are many reasons for this…not the least of which is because it is infinitely cheaper! I use leather dye powders…
The use of light brown, dark brown, red and yellow allow custom colours to be mixed to match the existing wood colour. This is then mixed with methylated spirits and tested on a swatch piece…
I keep the mixed dye with the swatch taped to it so that I can use it again to match similar repairs.
The dye is wiped onto the new wood very carefully and slowly…layer by layer to match the surrounding wood…
Be very careful that you don’t overdo it. The dye will always come up slightly darker when the finish is added…
Not a bad match considering!
Notice now I have sourced an iron and cap and also a lever cap “screw”…yes it’s a plain bolt with exactly the right thread! A bit crude I know but soon this will be cut up and “modified” to be more attractive!
I think at this stage it is best to test the plane…after all…shaving wood is what it’s for and it is critical to assess what other work needs to be done if there is a problem with the geometry…which there was!
Not bad but notice that even with the best adjustment, the shavings are a bit biased towards the left hand side. The right side is too thin.
This was traced not to a grinding of the iron issue…rather a bedding bias…the bed was higher on the right so the edge was lifted and did not cut evenly.
I shaved this down using a fine Japanese chisel and tested again….
That’s better!! Check out the roll…perfect!
In fact…a bit later I had an offer of a rather nice and cheap Quangsheng iron from Matt at WORKSHOP HEAVEN…and I thought I might just try out one of these…note also that I turned up a piece of brass (an old plumb bob!)…and tried it out again….
This shaving testing can become quite obsessive and you have to stop somewhere! The Chinese iron is wonderful….
The T10 water quenched steel really is fantastic! I tested the edge retention…the honing and the general performance and it is on par with the old steels. I think I will find a nice little parallel iron and relegate the QS iron to a Bailey infill…but for now it is a beautiful marriage of old and new…East and West!
Oh…and look…the cap iron screw is taking shape too!
There a few more things I need to do but for now…I think I will just plane a few more pieces of wood….
Great fun though!