Karl Holtey – Blog Archive

February 20, 2012

Window to my Workshop 20

No 982 smoothing plane in the making -2

Here is the making of the thumb screws.

It is only just a few shots taken at random so there are a lot of steps missed out.

Truing up an extruded gun metal bar on the lathe, for thumb screws and adjuster knobs. i.e. each bar cuts two thumb screws and two adjuster knobs.

These are the gun metal blanks after truing up and adding centres on the ends for work holding. The dividing head and tail stock are ready – set up for knurling the blanks. This is a very costly and complicated way to produce a knurl, but for this knurling there is no way other than to index it on the milling machine.

The blanks are set up on the dividing head showing the driving dog and tail stock. This is to cut the V shape grooves which form the knurl. The dividing head is used to index the spacing to the required divisions.

This computer generated image demonstrates the knurling design for this plane and helps explain why I need to use the above process.

As you can see from this photograph on the milling table, all the indexing work is complete having been returned to the lathe for more turning and thread cutting. The components have also been parted. These are the thumb screws only, showing the carriers which are still to be parted off.

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Filed under: A13,Conclusion,Window to my Workshop — Tags: , , , — admin @ 3:45 pm

Conclusion of making the A13 dovetailed infill planes

For a long time I have procrastinated in writing a blog, and in that time I have kept a library of pictures of plane making throughout my range hoping to document it over time.

With the A13 I have tried to give some idea of the sheer effort that goes into the making. Although I have missed out much of the story, I hope it is enough to provide an overall picture. I have shown the mixture of hand and machine work that is necessary to achieve something of this quality. Also, I hope that I have shown that the machine work is not an economy but a necessity.

I decided to make the A13 because I could see potential in this design and its very appealing aesthetics, and it has turned out to be my best seller. From the blog you will see that a lot of detail has been upgraded. Some of the enhanced contours have been copied by others and referred to as an A13 when in actual fact it is a Holtey designed A13 and not a Norris. The original Norris A13 was cast iron which supported a square bun. However the introduction of dovetailing (mainly brass on steel) and riveting through metal spacers are all my ideas.

With the completion of these few planes, I feel that I want to move on and look for a replacement for this infill design.

Window to my Workshop 15

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A13 dovetailed infill plane continued (8)

Shaping front bun on the A13 smoothing plane

Corner rounding after shaping the bun.


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A13 dovetailed infill plane continued (7)

Facing up the bed area.


It is important that I get things back to centre at this stage and I do this with an edge finder. All my co-ordinates work from the centre line.


Now that everything is back on centre I can drill through the fixing bar for the adjuster.


Whilst I still have all my co-ordinates and work holding I hand tap the previous drillings for the adjuster fixing.



There are many jobs in the making of this plane which don’t get mentioned and these pictures show the blade pads for bedding.


Boring for the blade pads. I drill to a suitable depth where I can engage part of the plane structure. The pads are then cemented in – on previous pictures you can see the retention recesses turned onto these pads.

Some browsers seem to make my nice round holes like polygons!


Handles ready for fitting, and trimming pads


The handle in position with temporary rivets

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A13 dovetailed infill plane continued (6)

Parting off and trimming spacers which I use on all my infill planes for better dimensional stability.


The spacers are drilled and reamed for the 7/32” rivet, from both ends for better concentricity.


Flushing off rear infill.

This is done with a temporary spacer to represent the handle as it is too difficult to do this with the handle in position. I also use sleeper rivets and spacers for location



The polishing is done after excess materials have been removed.


At this stage the plane with its infill can be put into the milling vice to flush the end. After further polishing the infills are ready to accept the handle.


Even without any machines this is one piece of equipment that everyone should have – just an ordinary drill press. This picture shows the drill press being used to drill the hole for the brass bar which is then drilled and tapped later on in situ for the adjuster fixing.


Inserting the brass bar for the adjuster fixing.

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Filed under: A13,Window to my Workshop — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 1:22 pm

A13 dovetailed infill plane continued (5)

It is difficult to believe that these two pictures of the boxwood are the same handle. It is amazing what you can do with light.

This work is nice and easy but I find it a little tedious and boring. The start to finish on one handle is at least 2 days.

The abrading that you can see is particulary extensive as I have to remove every bruise or tear to the fibres which are left behind after the shaping. I start at 80 and work down to 400 grits. After using 600 grits then final finish is with 0000 steel wool.

Normally these marks are not seen when using polish but my chosen finish for wood infills is always oil. This is very clean, business like, mellows the wood nicely and is easy to maintain. The only downside is that the preparation work for oiling is considerably greater than for French polishing; this is because the finish has to be absolutely perfect as the oil will show up every scratch and blemish.

Four dovetailed bodies waiting for their infills.

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A13 dovetailed infill plane continued (4)

Some of the preparation work and then putting the metal parts together.

One of those tedious jobs – polishing the chamfers. As you can see these need constant blueing to maintain the true flat angle all the way round.

No, not a piece of origami!

The sides after chamfer polishing and blade kickers which seem to have appeared already riveted by the workshop fairies.

Peining the underside

This is the first stage of peining. As you will notice the body is clamped onto an aluminium former by two surface ground steel plates. These are castellated to match the dovetails so that there is continuous pressure over the whole of both sides including the dovetails and prevents the space between the sides getting larger.

Peining the underside

With the sides and their dovetails firmly supported, I can then pein the tails by starting in the centre and working to the outside. Without this kind of support the sides would blow apart. The object is to expand the dovetails inside which normally cannot be reached as these dovetails are true compounds and not the illusions that are normally practised.

In short this clamping arrangement behaves like a die.

Side peining of plane

As you can see this is peined straight off the flat of the hammer. All the joints here are already tight and have not moved or wandered due to the clamping arrangement as described above. By peinning with the flat of the hammer it makes the metal expand and flow keeping all edges straight and maintaining the true dovetail form. Everything is sharp and crisp when flushed off.

The reason I do not use the punch here is because I am making the harder steel flow into the brass. The brass being softer would lose its form. Care is needed as a missed hit could leave an unwanted ‘dink’ in the side of the plane.

This is after the peining, but showing one dovetail left undone for comparison.

The plane body after dovetailing showing the precision aluminium former.

Window to my Workshop 10

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A13 dovetailed infill plane continued (3)

Here I describe some of the work to the bottoms of the planes. This is an area where most of the work of the plane is. It is probably light years ahead of any other infill plane.

Rebate to dovetail

Machining stops to the dovetailing, this adds extra support to the plane sides and also provides a light stop. This is something I currently do to the shoulder planes and it will be a new feature to all my dovetail planes.

Roughing out bed area to mouth.

This area is rough machined prior to the frog fitting to facilitate better access around the mouth.

Milling to the front side of the mouth

This is one of the main reasons for leaving the finishing of the bed until last so that I can access an end mill to the front side of the mouth.

Frogs waiting for riveting

Now that 80% of the work to the mouth area is complete the frogs can now be riveted.

As you can see that most of the surfaces are surface ground and especially the contacting surfaces which will be air tight once the frogs are riveted. This is not achievable with filing.

Frogs after riveting.

All that remains now is for the flushing of rivet heads and the bed machining.

Finishing cut to blade bed

Work holding for bed working

The highest standard of bed working on a true plane with no azimuth error and the bed pitch is exact to 51 degrees to within 1 minute. This might not seem that important but it is to me because I know where everything else goes then. I want to know exactly where the pressure points are when the blade is clamped.

Plane bottoms complete

This is a nice sight for me as it is a milestone in the project. Once this is achieved I am a happy bunny.

Roughing out the dovetails

I usually do these 6 pairs at a time and it takes several pecks especially with brass as it tends to chatter more than steel.

At last the final dovetail cut

Checking for fit.

Now we are starting to look like planes.

Window to my Workshop 9

Making of A13 part two

Much of the infill work is always trued up flat and square before any of the work commences, as in most woodworking projects.

In this picture are the rear infill sides showing the frog area routered away and this gives me a datum stop which helps me work out the drilling positions and its position in the plane. This will also be the same with the handle.

This is one pair of A13 rear infills being drilled for rivet spacers. Note the frog cut out being used as a stop. After this is done then I can drop a template over the holes to mark out the cutting line for band sawing.

This is the handle being drilled for rivet spacers using the same stops. As you can see I am making planes with rosewood and boxwood at the same time.

Whilst the holding fixture is still in position on the CNC milling machine it is prudent to use this for other work as all the datum positions are set up. Breaking down and setting up can be very time consuming and a little tiring on the grey cells.

This picture shows the finger hole and handle being roughed out.

As I have said; taking advantage of the holding fixtures before they are taken down.

This is the final cut after using the band saw to cut the infills out. I use the CNC mill to cut the true form of the sides. I add on a few thou all round for better finishing.

Using a manual milling machine with a purpose made cutter to produce a moulded form on the front bun. This is very accurate on a milling machine especially equipped with a DRO.

Milling the dovetail pins on the A13 plane bottoms.

Milling these is very advantageous on a CNC milling machine as I can work two bottoms together face to face in mirror form. I have a left and a right side of the bottom being worked together. With a dovetail form cutter and tracking in a butterfly pattern this allows me a left and right cut. I use three different cutters for this process – roughing, finishing and form cutters.

After cutting the compound dovetails in the plane bottoms.

At the risk of criticism from the purists I will say that with some very careful setting up I can produce a near perfect fit between the sides and the bottom without filing.

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Filed under: A13,Window to my Workshop — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 11:48 am

Making of A13

Not quite all of the sequential process, but most of it – not necessarily in order

A13 drilling lever cap for pivot screw

All my drilling and tappings are done in the milling machine so that I can achieve the best positioning and concentricity.


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