So, remember when we were last talking about scrub planes? I
think it was a month or two back...?
I mentioned I hadn't ever tried a wooden forescrub. Heard they were
being used and liked but it's not exactly wooden plane riches around
Bill Taggart popped up later and offered me an old wooden foreplane
to work on and see how I liked the engineering of it all.
Kind of a size in-between a heavy jack and a fore. (That was kind of
a dumb thing to say, wasn't it?? A heavy jack and a short foreplane is the same thing isn't it? ) Oh well, pay no attention.
One day I got it. An entire generation of woodworms had had their
fill of this one! Looked like someone had shot it with birdshot,
So, first thing I did was soak it down in
termite medicine and seal it up in a plastic bag for a month or
more. Just in case. I didn't want an invasion in my shop, holy
molly. I took it out and left it out in the open air out back
for a week. Finally brought it in and looked it over close for
the first time.
this one was well seasoned veteran before the worms had at it.
The wedge was present but it was toast. Too far cracked and too much
wood missing to save. A new one would have to be made. I found
me some wormy maple. It wouldn't match, but some stain and wax would
bring it closer and what else was I going to do with wormy maple??
The tote was present and merely chipped a little at the horn, but in
typical 19th century style, it must have been made for Mickey
Rooney! Must be about a size 6 (I take an 8 1/2) .
Guess what I found rummaging around my scrap boxes? Some wormy
Well, not totally burl, only a little burl grain, more like wormy
myrtle butt! I set to and carved a proper fitting tote for
myself! Not quite as wormy as the plane, but enough worm holes
to keep me from using that little piece for anything else.
Did I mention there is a use for every piece of wood? Yup, if
you hold onto it long enough, and can find it again when you want
it, sooner or later there is a perfect use for any piece of wood.
The myrtle is similar in color to ancient old beech and being as
it's butt wood, it wasn't easy to work, but I don't think you could
break with a short crowbar! Myrtle is a hard wood anyway.
Usually it doesn't have much bending strength (doesn't bend at all,
but with enough force it will break instead) but in this case being
as the grain swirls around every which way, I expect it to last.
Also is usually very pale brown and pretty lackluster in color
unless you are doing Danish modern or something. This old
butt, with the worms and all, it had taken on some color of it's
own. Of course, a
fitting size 8 1/2 tote wasn't going to fit in under the blade in
the old position. No way in the world.
So, you know what?
I love a razee plane. Always did. I
just upped and lopped off the offending stock. Guess what I
found? The worms had bored all the way to the center of the
plane. All the way!! That surprised me. I expected
to find virgin wood in the middle.
I chopped a new mortise for the new tote, setting it back just a
little. I like a little more swinging room to tap a blade than the
usual near zero clearance. Wooden plane tote mortises are
round tapered at the back end, this is why you only need one screw
in front to hold them. So you are chopping kind of a round dovetail
from the top with gouges.
I chopped open the
throat to accept the big chips that were about to pass it. Chopping
a throat open, for a toolmaker, is a very weird experience to say
the least. Keeping the throat tight as you can, is what you always
do. Actually chopping one open?? Well you kind of have to
close your eyes and bite your lip some. Talk about "Working against
the grain!!" I ground the nice deep arc of a scrub blade for it. Another thing
not so easy to do. To take a perfectly good old tapered blade and
make a round ender. I curved is about as much as I figured I could
get away with and still use the capiron.
One wedge cheek had a classic crack on one side. There was evidence
of an old attempted, and failed glue job here.