Projects in progress or in planning...

Gerd Fritche A7 Shoulder plane kit

November 16, 2017
I started back on the A7. Checking the wooden infills I note they are about .020 too thin for the sole thickness. A little disappointing but not a huge deal. I set the milling machine to take off .020 from one edge. I made the cut where I had previously noted the hole in the sole, this moves the hole closer to the edge. Making the depth cuts was easy. Moving that demarcation line was tedious. OK, so now the infills fit properly.

Having finished the A13 and not being thrilled with the color of the African Rosewood infills, I decided to make some infills out of some Macassar Ebony leftovers. That went pretty well. Here's the new one. Now I'm ready to build the assembly for drilling the bridge in the main infill piece. I'm a little leery of doing this. I can see a lot of things going wrong but the instructions simply state, paraphrasing here, assemble the bridge upside down, clamp in the infill, and drill through the assembly from the bottom, through the bridge, then open the hole to accommodate the threaded tube. Rather than simply using one side, the infill, and the bridge, as per the instruction picture, I actually assembled both sides, the bridge, the infill, and the end of the sole. All this to make certain the assembly is as square as possible. Pic1, Pic2, Pic3. I decide to make the test cuts on the original infill rather than risk my ebony on a first try. This all went pretty well, actually. After drilling through the bridge tube I widened the hole to accept the tube and it assembled reasonably well. So on to the ebony infill. Same procedure. After drilling I assembly the parts and %$#ed if the parts aren't misaligned by about .020. I'm frustrated and irritated now, so I take .020 off the side of the bridge and taper the wood of the infill .020 on the other side. So, things look better but the sides are twisted; never a good thing on a shoulder plane. I turn out the lights and call it a day!

After getting calmed down I realize I can either trash this thing or settle down and figure a way to properly fix it. I ordered a piece of .1875 brass (Naval 464) to make a new bridge piece. I bought a piece of bocote to make new infills. My plan is to assemble the new infill with the sides and a new bridge plate. I'll drill down through the top. I'll drill the proper hole for the M8 x 1.25 tap through the infill and the new bridge. Then I'll widen the hole to take a piece of the tube from the original bridge. Then I'll run a proper tap through the bridge tube, the infill, and the new bridge plate. If all that works I will have reconstructed the ruined parts.

November 17, 2017
I bought a 3 x 3 x 12 chunk of Bocote from Woodcraft. That is a convenient size to get the infills for two planes. I didn't discover the cracks in it until after I removed the wax. The wood should work OK. I can likely work around the cracks; they may not be very deep.

I cut the tube off the bridge assembly. Cut it into two 1/2 inch pieces. I experimented with the procedure I laid out. I discovered my taps won't cut more than about an inch because the shank is the same size as the cut teeth. I had to buy a tap with a narrow shank. Other than that the experiment looks OK. Assuming the infill is inserted tight against a new bridge plate, the procedure would be:
1. Using the drill press, drill the press-fit hole for the brass sleeve, use a 'W' bit, 3/8 deep.
2. Change the bit and continue drilling for the tap size, use an 'I' bit. Drill through the bridge plate.
3. Thread the sleeve on the tap and secure the tap in the chuck.
4. Use the drill press to press the sleeve in place.
5. Free the tap from the chuck.
6. Use the tap wrench to thread through the wood infill and fully through the bridge plate.
And, voila, Bob's your Uncle! Here's the experiment.

November 18, 2017
I started slicing up the piece of bocote. I thought I would have plenty of wood to make the infills but it was really close. There was a large crack that ran the length of the billet and more than half way through it. I got a good 1-inch slab for the two main infills. On the second 1-inch slab I was just barely able to rough out the 2 wedges and the 2 blade ramps. I was going to work on the main infill but decided to wait until I get the new brass bridge made. I did work on the blade ramp and the adjuster cut-out. I almost jumped into the blade ramp assuming it would be 15-degrees. Turns out it is closer to 17-degrees. Not a big deal as I caught it before I messed up anything else. I was going to work on the second ramp since I was set up for it. I decided to wait because I don't know how consistent the kits will be if I decide to make another A7.

November 26, 2017
Finally received the piece of brass I ordered. It was packed like nothing I've seen before; two pieces of card board, two pieces of 1/2-inch chip board, stretch wrap and then boxed. I hacked out a little 1 1/2 x 2 inch piece and made a new bridge. The square holes in the sides were sized for the 4mm (.157) brass Gerd provided. For the new .188 brass I ordered I had to choose between making the holes bigger or the tab smaller. I don't have any small coarse files to make the holes bigger so I made the tabs on the new bridge thinner. Seems to work well, Everything appears straight and square.

Starting on the main infill, I see the ends of the 1-inch piece of bocote I had set aside are already starting to check. I cut off the checking on both ends and now, instead of two nice square pieces to work for main infills I have one piece that I might be able to squeeze two infills from if I mesh them together. I used the band saw and belt sander to reduce the 1-inch thick piece to .915. That dimension works for the plane I'm working on but is too thin if Gerd makes the next one properly and I don't need to reduce the thickness by .020. Oh well! I was placing the block of wood on the sander free hand. Set it down for a second and then check the corners for thickness. Set it down again and apply pressure as needed to keep it flat. Didn't take long. Once at the correct thickness. I needed to mill the two critical angles and alignment. The infill needs to be perfectly flat on the sole and snug to the angled bridge. A little tricky to do. I used the belt sander to sneak up on the angle for the bridge. I made the bridge shorter than Gerd did so that the joint from the bridge to the wood is further up inside the plane body. The infill is still pretty rough at this point.

I'm nearly ready to start peining and I started making up the bucking blocks. My anvil is an old and heavy rack panel. It is about 10 x 19 and 5/8ths thick. It weights 35 pounds so it works well for plane peining. The bucking block assembly looks like this. It is securely held together but now I need to get the pins bearing on the steel of the anvil for whacking. I found this piece of steel in my scrap bin. This A7 plane has a little tab that joins the two sole pieces during peining. I cut a slot in the steel bar for the little tab. Now I have this whole lash-up to sit on the steel bar and the anvil and a support board to keep the whole thing level. Here's an end view. The jig plates on the carrier board bear on the side plates and on the anvil when I stand it on edge to pein the tails. At this point I think I'll let things sit for a day or so to see if the infill is going to check or crack some more. If it does check some more I'm not sure what I'll do about it. Try making another piece, I guess.

December 4, 2017
The bocote continued to check on the ends so I gave up on it. I made a new main infill and a filler for the blade end. I used some Honduran Rosewood I bought several years ago. It is a light brown in color and tight grain. It polishes nicely. Not as dark as I would like but at least I know it is dry and stable. I assembled it all in the bucking block and proceeded to pein it. I think I did a little better job than on the A13. I didn't make any of those little slices that just produce dents; that's a good thing. The metal at the side opening of the plane needs more structure. Gerd connects the brass along the bottom edge of the opening with a little piece of brass but it is not enough to prevent the sides from opening up. The opening needs a more substantial web of metal to keep the finished metal up against the pins on the sole. I managed to whack it back in place with only a few extraneous marks. I'm hoping they will be sanded or filed out. I went over the peining looking for joints that weren't closed. The metal around the mouth moves a lot because there is too little support, as mentioned.

I milled off the sides and the sole and then put it on the sander a little bit. I'm not far enough along to take it down too much. I used the milling machine and then some files to clean up the mouth opening; not finished but enough to see what I'm doing with the new ramp for the blade. I made the new ramp and the cut-out for the adjuster. I did a check fit on the adjuster only to find the blade hits the adjuster knob. I hadn't done this check on the first blade ramp I did. If I had I would have seen the blade adjuster cut-out is not parallel to the ramp but is offset by about 10-degrees so the blade clears the adjuster knob. Again, a real PITA making metric cut-outs with English tools. Anyway, here's a pic of pressing in the sleeves. The sleeve protrudes into the body of the infill ramp, but just a little. Fortunately it doesn't hurt anything. I got it to fit tightly in the body and then used a scrap of sanding belts to shape the exposed surface of the blade ramp. It looks good when finished.

December 7, 2017
I sanded the edges of the plane body. I added the 45-degree bevel on the edges of the sides. I did some work on the mouth. I shaped the inside of the infill at the mouth. I did some work on the inside of the infill at the opening to smooth the wood that butts up against the new bridge. I shaped the main infill to the curves on the sides. I installed the sleeves and tightened up the screws. I started making the wedge. Here's the current condition.

December 11, 2017
I milled off the protruding screw heads: pic, pic. I installed the tension screw for the wedge using the procedure I laid out before. I made the new wedge with a curve that more closely matched the body of the plane. When I finish sanded the wedge it moved too far into the plane so my curves don't match the body any longer! Oh well. I'm still not able to get satisfactory dovetails. Here's a pic of one of the problems. This is caused by the fact the dovetail closes at the surface but not down inside. Guess I can always do more, eh? This continues to be discouraging. I'm going to put it aside for awhile.

December 15, 2017
I cut the wedge screw down to length and made yet another wedge. I used the point of the hold down screw to mark the location for the little brass bearing point, but it didn't come out centered. The point on the screw may have been off a little, my tap efforts may be off a little, maybe my eyes aren't as good as they should be; we'll never know. It works and tightens well. It took another hour of work on the mouth to make it work, and it works well. I went back over the whole plane again, sanding out some remaining scratches, polishing the inside of the mouth and linishing the sides and sole one final time. Here's a glamour picture. Here's another. Note the curve of the hold down matches and aligns with the body curve. That's what I was aiming for. Here's the finished A7 shoulder with its bigger brother, the A13 smoother. I thought this plane was going to do me in. It is not as good as I was hoping but it works well, looks pretty good, and it will look better in a month, eh?