Making a Lignum Vitae Smoother (Plane), Part IV

Today, I finally got back to working on my plane. I started by turning a dowel from lignum vitae. I cut out the billet (blank) from the straightest-grained stock I had available, then turned it round on the lathe. It ended up being 11/32″ diameter.

Then, I located a good position for the pin in the plane body. When doing so, there are three things to keep in mind. Obviously there must be enough distance between the pin and bed for the blade as well as the wedge. Equally important, the pin must be located far enough down from the top edge as not to split the body when the wedge is driven in. Also, there should be enough room between the pin and front wedge for you to get your finger in to clear any shavings should they jam. After determining where the pin should be, I drilled a hole through the body using the drill press for accuracy. Then I drove in the pin.

Next, I made a wedge. To determine how big to make it, I first cut out a blank. I ripped it a shade narrower than the blade but left it long for ease of handling. Then I installed the blade, then measured the gap between the blade and pin. I laid out the shape of the wedge and cut it out on the bandsaw. All that’s left to finish the wedge is to cut and shape the top.

But before I finished the wedge, I decided to install the iron and wedge and take a much anticipated test cut. I placed the iron in the plane, leaving it back of the mouth so that I could adjust it forward with light taps. Then I pressed the wedge in place and had a look at the blade’s positioning. What used to be a tight fit between the front of the mouth and blade was now wide open. Not good. I quickly realized that because of the long bevel (due to the blade’s thickness), the wedge was applying pressure to the bevelled area, so it wanted to tilt the blade forwards.

The only solution was to shorten the length of the bevel, making it a steeper angle. I took off about 1/2″ from the tip (including the laminated section). I was afraid that once I sharpened past the laminated tip, the steel would be useless. However, judging by the spark pattern, that is not the case.

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