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Making and Using Tools - Planes, Scrapers, and Shaves

  Bronze Chariot Plane by Jim Hendricks 1 of 6  

Around the end of the Victorian era and into the 20th century, many plane makers offered bare castings made of steel, brass or bronze which enabled the thrifty craftsman to build their own planes by adding an iron, infills and a wedge.

Over the years I have found a half dozen of these castings which, for some reason or other, were never finished. I think that they were probably all seconds as most have casting faults, pits and voids which would make them “seconds”.

If you accept this, these defects make no difference to the actual performance of the final plane and can be a cheap way of getting a good infill for little money.

Most come up for sale on auction sites such as eBay….and this little bronze chariot casting was no exception. I managed to pick this up for a mere £20, which is not far short of scrap value!

The casting had been “finished” to some extent, which is unusual. The sole had been milled and the sides milled and also squared up with the sole. As with all castings, the insides are left raw. This can prove to be the biggest problem with plane castings.

The Iron

I needed to get a suitable iron. Here I was especially lucky as a good friend saw one on eBay, exactly the right size 1 ¾” and nicer still, made by one of my most favorite old Sheffield makers: Isaac Greaves.

It really is unusual these days to get a new old stock iron and even more pleasing to get one with a slight concavity to the face… which means that flattening near the edge was a breeze as can be seen.

A wire edge was created on the bevel ground at 25 degrees with a 30 degree secondary and once broken off created a razor sharp iron which can be seen tested on this end grain boxwood.

Learn how. Discover why. Build better.
1 of 6  

Norris Planes


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