Saving some electrons

So I got a little motivated reading Schwarz – it sounds so easy, all this hand planing etc.

Got out the hand planes, and my DMT diamond whetstones, and sharpened my plane irons.  I used the camber roller on the Veritas Mk II to produce a slightly rounded front edge (according to Chris, this is good for Jack Planes for heavy stock removal).

DMT Diamond Stones

From left to right, the plates are the Extra-extra coarse, the extra coarse/coarse (double sided), the fine/extra fine (double sided) and the Extra-extra fine DMT whetstones.

The extra-extra coarse is a ripper – the rate of metal removal is impressive, and it takes next to no time to get the blade to the shape you want, even when it has been used for other purposes (opening paintcans is a pretty typical activity for an abused chisel!)

The extra-extra fine gives that mirror finish.  The other four grades allow you to work through each, as is good sharpening practice.  As much as I don’t mind the double-sided concept, I would really prefer to have each grade the same physical size as the larger two I have, and ideally single sided.  The cost is really in the diamonds, not the base material.

The larger size is ideal for something like the Veritas Honing Jig, especially with the larger plane blades I sharpen.

The other secret about diamond plates is they actually get better with use.  Yeah, weird, but it is a fact never the less.  DMT plates have very consistent diamond size – nothing like a rogue diamond to scratch the hell out of your otherwise finished blade edge, so a quality plate avoids that danger.

Camber Roller

You can’t see it in this photo (didn’t have the right lens with me) but there is now a very mild camber to this blade, stopping the corners from digging in while ripping off massive amounts of the surface of the timber.

I needed to clamp up the piece of Camphor Laurel I had chosen for the exercise, and needed some more dog holes.  While marking these up, I discovered just how warped the surface of my workbench was.  That might explain a few things I’d been experiencing.  Not sure what I will do about it (if anything).  Problem will be solved by making my own workbench (one day).

I chose the Camphor Laurel as it had been resawn with the chainsaw jig on the Torque Workcentre, and had quite significant ridging – a perfect candidate for a Jack Plane.


Ignoring the step (this being the other side of the board fwiw), these were the ridges I wanted to see disappear.

Started off with the Jack Plane, and really couldn’t get anything happening.  Just isn’t right – something not working.  Then I remembered reading something in the Anarchist’s Tool Chest about Chris talking about using the Jack Plane across grain – the fibres being weaker in that direction.  Sure enough, that worked a treat, and great swaths of timber came flying off.


From there, I moved onto the trying plane to create a flat surface.  With the long bed, it rides on top of the ridges so they get cut down until such time as you get full-length shavings. (These were performed with the grain, rather than across)

It was about this point that I was really discovering that hand tools are:

1. lubricated with perspiration (it is quite labour-intensive!)

2. more involved that you’d expect – a powered tool that takes 1000 cuts/minute (or more correctly 16000 – 40000 (2 flutes on a router bit running at 20000 RPM) is quite different to a blade skimming along the surface at a fixed attack angle.  You can get away (easily) with a (comparatively) blunt blade on a powered tool, whereas a hand tool needs to be razor-sharp.  Imagine how impressive a powered tool would be with the sharpness of a handtool.  Required motor power would be so much less, finish significantly high.

3.  slow, and take a lot of physical effort.  And quiet.  Power tools are noisy, and produce a lot of wood dust along with fine wood shavings (the result of thousands of tiny cuts, rather than one long cut).

Smoothing cuts

Then moved onto the smoothing plane.  This is quite a bit shorter, and is designed to take fine shaving cuts, leaving a smooth finish.  When properly tuned, the finish can be shiny, providing a mirror finish.

So I got a semblance of a result.  A bit too scalloped out of the middle – must have concentrated a bit much effort there.  Not sure whether it was harder than expected, but it does go to show that even if you are very proficient with powered tools, that knowledge does not readily transfer.  Gives one a real respect for those who live with handtools (or had no choice through the ages).

Need another woodshow so I can pick Terry Gordon’s brain about the basics again!  Using handtools to prepare a board – one of the new show demos for TWWWS 2013!  I’d sit in for that 🙂

The Anarchist

On yet another flight carrying me away from the shed, it proved the perfect opportunity to begin reading my new copy of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” by Chris Schwarz

Confronting book, because he starts off in the same place many of us are – a shed that is too small with many tools and jigs, and a shortage of space.

He then gets into tool purchases, and his many many MANY false avenues he has been down. He soon gets into one of his passions – hand tools, and particularly hand planes. As he described the standard collection of planes you wanted, I was rather buoyed to realise that by good fortune, or good planning, the HNT Gordon planes I had purchased so far over the years fitted neatly into the basic categories (I’d like to think good planning!)

Basic stock preparation: the Jack Plane

What I have:

HNT Gordon Aussie Jack Plane

Flattening stock and edging: The trying plane

What I have:

HNT Gordon Trying Plane

Smoothing the result, ready for finishing: The smoothing plane (eg Stanley #5)

What I have:

HNT Gordon Smoothing Plane

So simply, I have no excuse not to try these tools more, become reasonably proficient with them. Given I have a few blades, I may be able to choose one to put a slight camber on it for improved jack plane performance, but will check with Terry’s site before doing that.
I am sure there is a whole heap more that I will learn, or discover during the journey.

Rest assured, I don’t intend to become a hand tool fanatic, shunning power tools (I enjoy the machinery too much). Nor am I planning relocation of shed tools!

Step back in time

There are many small townships dotted around the state: I’m sure I have only seen a smattering of them, but even so, Clunes stood out as one just a little more unique than many.

Unlike those that appear to be managing as a tourist destination, preserved to appear frozen in time, Clunes seems to be one that isn’t frozen, but is genuinely old.

20120410-004822.jpg (From the website)

The drive in has some really pretty scenes, old bridges, historic buildings, mature trees, scenic river, but it is the main street that really catches the eye.

When was the last time you saw a street this wide?


There are a fair few second-hand bookshops in the main drag- probably a good thing seeing as the entire town is going to become “Booktown” for an annual event! Tens of thousands of second hand books will be available. Lots of guest speakers and events. Guess it is a good thing the street is so wide!!

There are lots of other shop fronts as well, many seemingly surviving on a wing and a prayer, or less (but perhaps not too…)





It is also a “Safer Place” for bushfires, but check out the Vic Gov(?) disclaimer


Some woodworking-related aspects: there is a small woodworking outlet in the main street, and some antiques/old goods stores.




In the local photographer’s shop (an ex-photojournalist for the Age), a really old TV (sadly sans screen) caught my eye


You do have to wonder about the expected rainfall with gutters so wide and deep, you need a bridge to get across them!


Perhaps something to do with the vehicles of choice from the goldrush era




Wish I’d had more time in the end, there are so many photographs waiting to be discovered there. And I wouldn’t have minded more of a forage through some of the artifacts of the gold rush era, particularly the woodworking ones.

New HNT Gordon Planes

Received my latest e-newsletter from HNT Gordon planes recently, which was a good prompt to have a look at Terry’s website again.

Noticed on there that Terry won’t be attending any of the woodshows this year, and instead is offering discounts on his planes (which correspond to the State that the show is in – check his site for more details).  In a nutshell though, when the discount is in your area, it is for 20% off, which is quite a savings!  If you are in Queensland, this special is currently available until 31 May 09.

The other thing that I noticed is he has bought out some new planes – specifically hollow and round profiles of different widths. I’ve pinched these photos from his website:

HNT Gordon Hollow Plane

HNT Gordon Hollow Plane

Using the 1" Round

Using the 1" Round

Finally, an image from his site that has (and is still) gracing the wall of my office.  A stunning set of Ebony planes and associated tools from Terry and Colen (Clenton)

HNT Gordon

HNT Gordon

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