The Weekend of the Craftsman: On Tools "things to consider"

It's been a slow week. I'm finishing a cuatro and handed over one today. It was a funny situation. It was raining. A lot! And I stood with a few centimeters of roof over my head waiting for my friend's mother-in-law to pick it up. After a few laughs, she went on and I ran back home because this watery deal wasn't going to end soon. In fact, as I write this, it's still raining. Thank you 28th tropical front of the season!

Moving that aside, you might remember my plane problems from this post. Well, it turns out that the same day I posted it, a friend of the family came home to fix a door problem. It needed some heavy tools and I ended doing to slight woodworking to get some other things on place. We got talking about some stuff and I mentioned the problem with the plane. Long story short, he took a power screwdriver and was able to unstuck the screw that had been a nightmare for so long. I guess that some strength is also a way to fix things.

With this new setting, I was able to fix the plane. I bought another screw and washer and the frog is in place and a lot has changed. The problem now is that the sole isn't flat. No problem, sandpaper makes quick work of this. The issue is, I don't have too many flat surfaces to do this. I do have a glass, but I already chipped away a piece doing some sanding. So, it's better not using it for heavier things. So I'm on the lookout for a thicker glass or a piece of polished granite.

But this just recap. As I said in that last post, I wanted and need a smaller plane. Something you could call a smoothing plane. You have a big one to take big chunks of wood. You use the block plane to work end grain and chamfers. This plane is the one that flattens surfaces. Thus, the smoothing part.

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WhatsApp Image 2021-08-03 at 5.56.13 PM (1).jpeg

This is my new plane. It is a copy of a regular Stanley Bailey N° 4 plane. It has all the pieces in place. Even the frog-adjusting screw is there. A neat detail. Once you get one, you proceed to see what you need to fix. This was a cheap tool. Planes under 35$ have a lot of issues to be solved before having them ready to take off shavings.

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The first issue starts with the frog. The pieces are complete and in good shape. But after closer inspection, there's not a smooth finish on the parts. What's more, the frog isn't stable. A plane has 4 contact points for the frog. They look like steps of a ladder. These help to keep the frog squared on the sole. This one is missing 2. This wouldn't be a problem if the frog could be stable without the screws in place. But it stumbles to the right. I don't really know how to fix this besides welding something onto it, but I'll keep searching for tutorials.

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WhatsApp Image 2021-08-03 at 5.56.13 PM (3).jpeg

The second issue is this. The sole isn't flat. The marker is used here as a way to keep track of the flattening of the sole. Once all of it is gone, the sole should be flat. I tried for 1 hour to get it flat and I couldn't. I gotta say that maybe the surface I was using didn't lay flat of top of the table. But I guess it needs more grinding. I think I might go to a smith's workshop. A belt grinder could do a better job at fixing this than my hands.

There's a lot of other issues going around on this little thing. But it is part of the trade off. You get a cheap tool, you better strap on and grind it all the way down till it works. These are just little things to consider before buying something cheap. And before you can tell "why did you buy it then?" I can tell that I don't have many options. This country has a lot of issues in importation and restrictions, so there's not a market for crafts as big as there are elsewhere. It may be months till I can use this plane properly, but I have my stuff and I'm stubborn enough to get it in shape. I bet I can make this plane work as good as an expensive one. It will need a bit of elbow grease to get to that point. But time is on my hands and the mindset for results. But I won't deny that I would buy expensive tools if I had the resources, just to save time on set ups.

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