Monday, October 2, 2017

Making an infill plane from scratch 10, rear tote.

My original plan called for a closed rear tote. During this project I have searched the Internet a lot, looking at all kinds of pictures of infill planes and their handles. I suppose that I could design my own, but one search (I think it "closed rear tote plane") revealed a picture of a classic closed rear tote from an old jointer plane. The good thing was that once I visited the homepage, I found that there was even a pdf of a full sized handle.
I downloaded the pdf and intend to use it as a muster for my tote. I will need to make some alterations to the front to get it to blend in with the rest of the plane, but it greatly help to have a starting point.

Now if I could just hope to make a handle that looks 1/10th as good as those handles that Pedder turns out.

An interesting thing about the closed rear tote is that it is described as being non symmetrical in the aft most part, where the palm of your hand will push your plane. Tee idea behind this is supposedly that it will make the plane more comfortable to use for someone who is right handed compared to a symmetrical tote. On the other hand it will make the plane more of a pain to use for anyone who is left handed.
At first I was  a bit undecided if I should go with symmetrical or asymmetrical. I was afraid that if I made it asymmetrical, most people would probably think that I did a crappy job in shaping the rear part of the tote.
But once I started I decided that I could always something else that was symmetrical, and this project is about making a plane that will be a joy to use, so I ended up doing it the way it was suggested.

I sawed out a piece of wood and tried to flatten it a bit with my plane, in order to get it close to the thickness I wanted (1" 1/16).
There was a lot of tear out, and in the end I had to traverse it with the scrub plane in order to get it to look reasonably OK.

The outline of the handle was traced onto the wood, and I drilled  a series of holes to remove the hole for the fingers, and also in the upper curve just beneath the end of the tote.
The trusty hacksaw helped removing the rest of the wood.
Since I haven't got a rasp, I needed to figure out another way to remove a lot of wood with a bit of precision, and at a decent speed.

My solution was to clamp the handle to a block of wood that was held in the vice, and then using the 1/4" chisel removing small chips along the edges. This method worked way better than I had expected. It was fast, efficient, fun and the handle very quickly took on the desired shape.

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done with a file and with sandpaper, but at least I got the job started out in a good way.

A thing that didn't turn out very well was the placement of the holes that I drilled back in post No 5 in this series. The upper hole for the rear infill was placed in a way that it just missed the surface of the bed for the blade by 1/16" or so. Since my plane is to use bushings inside the wood it meant that the bushing would protrude on the bed of the blade which would effectively ruing the plane.
That left me with two options, making a new rear infill with a bed angle of 70 degrees or so, or trying to stuff the holes.
I went for the stuffing job.

I used some sort of tapered reamer/router bit that I found in order to flare out the holes on the inside of the sole.
The real mistake happened when I tried to use the same bit in the drill press. It caught the hole and dug itself heavily into the metal before I manged to turn of the power.
So instead of a nice lightly flared symmetrical hole, I had a much too large asymmetrical ugly flared hole.
To make matters even worse, I started out by riveting the nice hole in the other side. That went really well, but it left me with a much more difficult job to peen the inside of the rivet in the ugly hole. Since I could no longer get the drift pin in from the other side (as I had just closed that hole with a rivet).
I hammered til I was afraid that I'd might hit the side itself, and then I stopped. The heads of the rivets on the inside were filed level, so that I could insert the rear infill again.
The outside was left after a couple of strokes of a file, because I figured that it was better to file all the rivets once I have assembled the entire plane.
At some point I need to drill another set of holes in that region of the plane. but I think I'll wait with that until I have the rear tote and infill glued together and ready for assembly.

Raw rear tote.

Using a chisel to shape the grip.

1/6" piece of iron to be used as a rivet.

Peening the first rivet on the inside.


  1. The wood looks much more interesting than I first thought. The plane looks like it's coming along well.

    1. Hi Brian

      I think the wood will look a lot better once it gets some linseed oil or tung oil. That should bring out the figure of the grain.
      The plane is slowly coming together alright, but it is not a fast project.

  2. Ah... a carved tote.
    You might like Giuliano's blog:
    He has made various planes including infill planes.

    1. Hello Sylvain
      Thanks for the link to Giuliano's blog. That infill plane he made is absolutely stunning!
      I'll ad his blog to my blog list.


  3. The really good craftsmen seem to know how to recover well when things go wrong. Traversing with a scrub plane isn't a technique I'd have thought about for handling tear out, nor plugging holes with rivets. Very inspiring post! (and the tote is looking good, too)

    1. Hi Jeff.

      Thanks a lot.
      I would prefer not having to plug the holes, but I guess I am the only one to blame for this little mistake.
      When I made my first sea chest in Nigeria, I discovered that traversing was sometimes the only way to get something done without a huge amount of tear out. It didn't leave a show surface, more kind of a fuzzy one, but way better than trying to plane along the grain.
      This wood actually looked OK after traversing, but I also had the scrub plane set for a very fine shaving.