Now that the ebony was flattened appropriately, the actual construction could begin. Since I was making 1/4″ planes instead of 1/8″, I adjusted a couple of my dimensions accordingly. The gap between the fence and the skate was increased to 3/8″ to move the groove further away from the drawer bottom, and the fence itself was lengthened to 5/8″. The fence side thickness was increased to 3/4″ to allow for the added gap, and the other side was increased to 1/2″, primarily because I like a little more body in my hand. I used a tablesaw for all my cuts, but you could use a bandsaw and router with equal success.
I clamped the skate blank in place between the two sides, and adjusted it’s height with a shoulder plane. I wanted the groove to be 1/4″ wide and 1/4″ deep, which required a 1/4″ skate projection from the body. I stopped slightly higher than this, intending to make the final adjustments after assembly. I simply wanted to get in the ballpark for the next steps.
Now, it was time for the left and right-hand planes to part ways. I crosscut the body pieces slightly long, and marked them to keep from getting confused. Next, I cut the skate blank into the four requisite parts. This is where an accurate miter gauge is a godsend. The two pieces are cut to 57 and 113 degrees respectively, and my Incra 1000SE performed perfectly.
At this point, you are building two separate planes. However, I STRONGLY recommend doing the two glue-ups simultaneously. The two are mirror images of each other, and doing both initial glueups at the same time will prevent the possibility of accidentally making duplicate planes instead of mirror images.
After layout of the parts, the bed sections were glued in place. Remember not to put glue on the exposed skate section, as this will cause cleanup problems later. To make this easier, I clamped a parallel clamp in the bench vise, and then aligned the parts inside its jaws. This allowed me to concentrate completely on alignment without having to fight with the clamp. The outer two edges are aligned by feel and straightedge and then clamped in place. It’s a good idea to rub the joint first and let it set for a few minutes to get tacky. This eliminates a lot of your glue’s lubricant properties and keeps creep to a minimum. Be sure to clean up glue squeeze-out, especially around the skate and in the blade channel.
The bed piece is easy, the throat piece is harder. Its placement determines the plane’s mouth clearance. I did this by placing the blade in the channel, and moving the block up until there is about a 1/32″ or so gap. It’s better to err on the side of closeness, as you can adjust the mouth later. Notice that the iron is still blank – I have yet to rough-grind the bevel or heat threat it. Mark the piece’s location with a pencil, and then glue it in place in the same manner as the bed piece.
This is what the inside of the planes looks like with both pieces in place. Things look a little out of line on the lower body, but that’s just a lens artifact. There are a couple of things to do before we glue the other side on, and we’ll pick up there next time.