Introduction: Giant Wood Hand Plane (that Actually Makes Shavings!)
Oh boy, this is a big one! 3x scale No.5 hand plane built up piece by piece to be nearly identical to the original. It's about 3-1/2 feet long and 30lbs with a blade that is 6 inches wide and nearly 2 feet long made by Zack Herberholz. The plane was made almost entirely from wood including all of the visible screws and adjustment mechanisms. Most of it was actually scrap wood with the body being made from maple butcher block off-cuts, the lever cap and "brass" screws are made from scrap cherry, and the knob and handle are made from reclaimed white oak barn wood. I delivered this in person to Rockler at WorkbenchCon and that was actually the first time that the blade was installed into the plane. After we figured out a way to keep the work bench from moving, we were easily able to make some pretty beefy shavings that were reminiscent of tree bark. This is build 3 of ∞ in my giant tools series.
Notable Materials & Tools used on this build:
- Reclaimed white oak barn wood
- Wood glue - https://amzn.to/2vKGTQU
- Maple butcher block off-cuts
- Cherry scrap wood
- Tung oil finish - http://amzn.to/2i4ltW7
- Hand planes - http://bit.ly/2X5T0qW
- Bluetooth hearing protection - http://bit.ly/2KKp50T
- Glue spreader bottle - http://bit.ly/2wThXqJ
- Aluminum bar clamps - http://bit.ly/2XG6CGm
- Pipe clamps - http://bit.ly/2MHbCtl
- Silicone glue mat - http://bit.ly/2WYRBm4
- Disk sander - https://youtu.be/CfTzA2FTH6A
- Angle grinder carving disk - https://amzn.to/2DA7mGA
- Sanding angle grinder - https://amzn.to/2WzwPFo
- Caliper gauge - http://bit.ly/2R6LTJm
- T track table - http://bit.ly/2R54J3C
- Wood rule - http://amzn.to/2gdizmg
- Tap & die set - https://amzn.to/31B8TVU
- Oscillating saw - http://amzn.to/2k4ujrn
- Large wood tap & die set - https://amzn.to/2MELJKL
- Yellow sanding sponge - https://amzn.to/2zKLe9p
- Wood burner for logo transfer - https://amzn.to/2qDnSNN
Step 1: Gluing Up the Handle and Knob
I start this one off with the handle and the knob. After printing out a scaled up template of the handle I rough cut some of this beautiful reclaimed white oak barn wood down to rough length. This gets arranged to fit within the template and then glued together. And for the knob I glue up a giant block of wood shown here, leaving the center joint dry, and then after this glue-up drys I glue the 2 pieces together.
After letting them dry for a couple of hours, clamps can be removed ever so carefully and excess glue squeeze out can be scraped off.
Step 2: Shaping the Handle
The handle is traced out using my template and then cut down to size on the bandsaw. On the bandsaw I leave about 1/16" outside the line and then sand down all of the outside curves on the disk sander and any of the inside curves on the spindle sander.
Just to see how it would look, I tried simply rounding over the corners of the handle with my largest round-over bit in the router, but as expected the results were pretty disappointing. It's not the first time I've disappointing someone though (hi dad). So to rectify this situation, I pull out the Turbo Plane cutting disk, scribe a line 1.5" in from the edge and free hand carve the corner down to size. After a little sanding, this thing looks exactly how I was hoping in my head.
Step 3: Shaping the Knob
Now the knob is a nice big piece of lumber. I'm going to turn it down round on the lathe, but I help out future Jackman by doing most of the work on the table saw by cutting the corners off. You can see where I scribed the circle onto the front face, so I just cut up to that line. At this scale of turning it's pretty significant how much this can speed up the process.
I don't need a template for the knob because the shape is fairly simple. Instead, I just measure the dimensions with digital calipers and then multiply all of those measurements by 3 and transfer them to my piece. The lengths are easy and I can just mark those out with tick marks on the piece, the diameters are measured by using a parting tool and turning the knob until my calipers tell me it's the right dimension. I do this at a handful of spots along the length of the knob and this is enough to give me some reference points and I just shape the knob from that because I'm amazing and I'm just that good.
After a little sanding and polishing of my knob, look how that beauty shines!
Step 4: Shaping the Sides
With the handle and knob done, it's time to stop playing around and start focusing on the important things, what am I doing with my future?! I also start working on the main body of the plane. This is build up from off-cut pieces of butcher block countertop, but it's 1.5" thick so I resaw these pieces in half for the bottom and sides of the plane. Bonus points to Jackman, because of this I was able to match the grain exactly on both sides of the plane, but you never see both sides at the same time so no one is ever going to notice all this hard work anyway, what am I doing with my future?!
I also make a paper template for the sides of the plane because the shape is fairly complex. I actually did this by taking a straight-on photo of the side of the plane and then scaling up and dimensioning it on my computer. This is then traced one of the sides and I stick them together with double sided tape before cutting them out on the bandsaw.
The sides are then clamped in the bench vise and sanded down smooth. This ensured that both sides are identical to one another so that no one would notice but me. Could I have skipped the double sided tape and just done this whole process before resawing? If I was smarter, yes.
Step 5: Shaping the Bottom
The bottom pieces are a bit easier because they are less curvy (unlike me). I check the angle of the frog (the thing that holds onto and adjusts the blade) and then set my blade to that angle (45 degrees you dumb dumb) to cut the angle on the back piece on my table saw. The blade rests on the back piece which is the reason for the angle, while the front piece remains square.
The opposite ends have a slight curve to them, so I give myself a few reference points and then trace out the curve using a flexible thin piece of PVC. This profile is then cut on the bandsaw and then sanded down to the line on the bandsaw.
Step 6: Adding Features to the Bottom
When you look at the body of the plane, you then realize how lumpy it is. There are lips on both ends and also around where the handles mount. It was much easier to cut these out and applicate them to the base rather than try to carve the whole thing out of a solid piece, making my life easier just this one time. The pieces are cut down to size, sanded, and select edges are rounded over.
Once I get all of the pieces sized out, this is what they look like after being glued to the base pieces, kind of like a cooking show, no need to wait for the oven. The left piece is the front of the plane with a circle where the knob mounts, and the right piece is the back of the plane where the large handle mounts. Wherever the applicated pieces run into the edge of the base I actually run them slightly long and then sand them down flush.
Step 7: Gluing on the Handle and Knob
Now I decided to just go ahead and glue the knob and handle in place. On a regular hand plane these are fastened in place with a threaded rod that threads into the base and then a screw at the top of the handles which screws down, pinching it into place. For this though, gluing them down was much more practical so I did that instead because I'm not a masochist (I am).
The last piece of the base is where the frog sits, so I'm just going to assume a name for it. You can see the slight recess in the back of the lily pad which is where I drilled and tapped a hole before gluing it in place. This is where the adjustment screw for the blade is located and I won't be able to get in there after I glue this thing up, so I have to tape the hole now. So I shape the lily pad and then glue it in place.
Step 8: Gluing the Body Together
Now this is one of the more nerve wracking part of the builds because I need to make sure that the plane is glued together so the bottom is 100% flat, because that's kind of hand planes "thing". I set up a couple of silicone mats on my table saw because that's the flattest surface in my shop, and glue the sides on. First I tack them in place with a pin nailer to make sure that they stay exactly where I put them and then I clamp both sides in place.
After letting that whole thing dry for a few hours, I delicately remove the clamps and finally get a sense for the actual scale of this thing... oh boy, what have I done.
Step 9: Building Up the Base of the Frog
You like clamp removal tricks? I've got clamp removal tricks. Honestly that's really all I have to offer. Anyway, the frog is built up from a bunch of different piece, but it starts with this glue-up that will be cut down to a triangle shape on the table saw.
That triangular piece is then glued onto a larger flat board which has a 45 degree angle on one end and the curved profile cut on the other end. Now you can see the frog on the left side here with a couple of lumps on the back, I decide to build this up from a couple of pieces where I partially glue them on and partially carve them down to shape.
The pieces are carved to shape on the table saw, with the large groove getting cut out on the router table. I then cut the hole through this piece with a drill bit and use a flush trim router bit to bring the hole out to size to match the groove.
Step 10: Adding Final Details to the Frog
These 2 pieces are then glued into place on the frog and the clamps are removed carefully after the glue dries, just the way you like. You can see the groove and hole better now, this is where the blade adjustment mechanism will be installed later.
Then the notch in the smaller piece is where the frog itself has it's location reference and adjusted in relation to the body of the plane. The blade adjustment rides on a threaded rod though, so I drill and tap a hole on the back side of the frog now. I also do the same on the top of the frog where the screw will go that holds the blade in place. There's also a couple other notches to be cut out and I do that with my palm router by hand.
Step 11: Making the Lever
Now one of the hardest pieces to shape was the lateral blade adjustment handle thingy. I ended up building this up from 3 different pieces of wood, a long flat piece was the main part of it, a circled was glued onto one end, and then a larger block was glued onto the other end. This larger block was formed with a handsaw, chisel, and files to get the bent metal shape from the original.
After some shaping and a whole lot of sanding though, it starts to look like a bent piece of metal. The far end of this has the small circular piece that protrudes and is positioned in the long slot in the blade so that when you push the handle on the other end left or right, it pivots and moves your blade left or right.
Step 12: Making the Blade Height Adjustment and Attaching It
The blade depth adjustment mechanism is another tricky one because this is also made out of bent metal in the original hand plane. I shaped this by doing a 2 sided cut on the bandsaw, I cut one side of the profile to shape and then sketched on the cut surface the other profile and then cut that.
Both of these adjustment pieces can temporarily be installed in place now. The lateral adjustment handle is held in place with a carriage bolt which I cut flush at the nut so it doesn't protrude too far. The depth adjustment just gets held in place with a pin, which is actually a finish nail with the end ground down flat.
Step 13: Cutting Holes in the Frog
On the original frog, there are a couple of large holes for the screws that hold it in place onto the body. There was really no good way to carve these out by hand or with the router, so I went over to the drill press for this one with a large forstner bit. I clamps the thing down as much as possible and slowly drilled a hole in either side. Since it's only cutting on one side of the bit to begin with, it takes a while to establish the hole so you have to be really patient or it'll run away on you.
The hole has a flat bottom all the way out to the edge, so I finish off the shaping of these recesses with an oscillating saw and I also use the same tool in order to create a slot in the bottom of these holes where the screws will go that mount this thing in place.
Step 14: Tapping Final Holes in the Body
Now I can use the frog to mark out where the holes should be located and I drill them out and tap them. I use some regular metal screws to hold the frog in place and they screw super securely into these threads.
Step 15: Making the Lever Cap
The lever cap is another tricky shape (are you sensing the trend here). This is another double bandsaw cut, but luckily when you scale the thing up, it is fairly close to being flat. I cut the profile of the edge first, sand these faces smooth, and then cut out the profile shown traced out here. This and all of the brass pieces from the original hand plane are made out of this scrap cherry that I have so that they all match.
You can see a few spots that I marked out with an awl before the last cut, these are holes that need to be drilled. The top hole is where the lever cap lock screw is located and the bottom is a keyhole shaped hole where the lever cap slides into place over the screw that holds it in place. After drilling out the holes, the shape of the bottom one is finished with a chisel and the top hole is tapped with a large wood thread tapping set. Note I only drill these holes part way and then flip the piece over to finish them because otherwise you'll get a ton of tear-out.
Step 16: Making the Large Screws
And now we meet again, my legendary foe... Last time we were forced to meet was when I built the giant utility knife and it took a little more than 10 iterations before I was able to get the single screw that I needed. Now with the hand plane I need to make 8 screws, so I'm likely setting myself up for failure. It's like I'm playing against the Soviet Union in Lake Placid here.
I start with the easiest screw which is the lever cap lock screw, because that's the largest of the bunch. Some cherry is shaped down to size on the lathe and then I use my large wood threader to add threads to the screw. Wood threads are tough which you'll see more of in a bit, but this is dedicated to make threads in wood so it's not so bad for this one (that's what we call foreshadowing in the biz).
The depth adjustment knob is also fairly easy because this one just needs a hole to be tapped in it, which wood takes to really well. I just mount the chunk of cherry to the screw chuck and turn it down to shape, then cut it off and flip it around and tap the other side of it (always make sure to tap the other side).
Step 17: Making the Smaller Screws
I also make a few faux screws to "hold" the handles in place, I'm just a fake internet woodworker so what did you expect?! These screws are turned down like the rest except for the fact that they are actually just the head of the screw. Cutting the slot is the hard part on these and I just do that with the Mini Carver while using my lathe tool rest as a guide to keep me flat.
And last are the few screws that actually need to be threaded with my metal tap and dye set. Like I said before, tapping is easy, threading not so much. On the knife I ended up finding some super dense chechen wood and that ended up taking the threads nicely, but I wanted to keep the cherry theme going here if I could. The cherry is fairly soft so what I did to help was soak each screw in linseed oil for a few hours, the surface of the screw sucked up the oil which made the grain more pliable and actually lubricated the cut too while I cut the threads.
And that's a wrap on the screws, I'll never do it again, except that I will.
Step 18: Knurling
Now there are 2 screws that have knurling on them, which is basically just a bunch of grooves around the perimeter of the head of the screw. To achieve this, I set up a super simple jig on my router table along with a v-nose route bit. I use the miter gauge from my table saw and use that to thread the screws into a sacrificial fence that's attached to it. I mark out the increments on the outside of the screw and cut each one and rotate, rinse and repeat.
The jig does a pretty decent job, but after they're all cut I refine the shape by hand with a file in each cut.
Step 19: Installing the Screws
Now just like the handles, the faux screws also get glued in place. I just drill a hole to match the depth of the head of the screws that I made and apply some glue and hammer them into place.
Step 20: Final Sanding and Branding
Now that's all the parts that are glued to one another, so I can give everything a final sanding!
Last little detail is to add the branding to the Bench Dog hand plane so that matches as well. To do this I use one of my favorite little tricks, toner transfer. All you need to do is print out a mirrored image of the logo/picture/lettering that you want on a laser printer. Then I use blue tape on one edge to hold it in place and I use the pattern bit in my wood burner and rub it on the back of the paper to transfer it. You can also wipe an acetone soaked rag on the back for the same effect, but I find that doesn't work as well.
Step 21: Applying Finish
Now it feels wrong, but I'm actually going to paint part of this project before apply my regular finish. To match the original hand plane, I paint the top of the body of the plane black while leaving the sides and handles raw. Anywhere on the original plane that is blade gets painted and everything else gets taped off.
And then once the paint is dry, I apply my usual tung oil finish to the entire body of the plane, plus the frog, lever cap, and screws. After a few coats I hit it with some high grit (~400 grit) sand paper very lightly to remove any dust and then apply one last coat of finish.
Step 22: The Box
Now the last little (big) finish touch is a box to match! My friend saw what I was working on and offered to make me this box to hold the plane. You can actually see the original box inside the back corner of this giant box which fits in place in foam along with the giant hand plane.
Step 23: Installing the Blade
The box proved to be super handy because I used that (with a plywood box built around it) to transport the hand plane on a plane to a conference where I delivered it to Rockler (I've had it with these motherfn planes on the motherfn plane!!!). And this is where I met up with my buddy Zack (ZH Fabrications) who held the final piece to the puzzle... THE BLADE.
Zack machined this thing out of a place of steel along with the chip breaker. The blade itself is 6" wide and nearly 2' long. It was nothing short of incredible watching Zack sharpening this thing on his belt grinder where he had to hold it over his shoulder. He decided to test out the sharpness of it on Dan's arm where he took off all the hair and probably the epidermis too.
I'm in DC and Zack is in Florida, so this is the first time that we actually saw the 2 pieces come together and it was quite the relief that it actually fit together perfectly.
Step 24: Making Shavings!
I even got to document the first shavings that we got from this thing (it only took 3 people), it was like watching my baby walk for the first time. We ended up lubing the bed of the plane up with chapstick (it's what we had, TSA confiscated my trusty emergency pocket lube) and the thing glided like butter after that, only needing 2 people to make shavings.
And the shavings that we got from this thing were amazing because they were proper Jackman Size shavings that were scaled up just like the plane... these shavings probably could have easily been mistaken as tree bark.
I was even able to get Cremona in on the fun! It looks larger in his hands then mine...
Step 25: Coming to QVC...
Step 26: Glamour Shots
Forget about St. Louis, I'm the one who won Lord Stanley's Cup this year!! As always, for the whole Jackman experience, definitely don't miss the full YouTube video below.
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