Around the Shop #4: Adjustable Plane Till

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Blog entry by Mosquito posted 01-19-2013 06:45 AM 4831 reads 9 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Travel Plane Till Part 4 of Around the Shop series Part 5: Making my Plane Swap entry »

I posted this project recently, and had said I would do a blog about it, going into more depth than I did in my project posting. Here it goes…

I didn’t take too many pictures of the work in progress, because quite plainly, it was pretty basic. Just cut some groves in a piece of 3/4” plywood, cut some poplar to length, and size, and screwed it all together.

I started out by making this little jig/poor mans drill press type thing. I used a rockler drill guide, and some scrap pieces of wood. The aluminum bar slides between two pieces on either side, and butt up against a stop block on the end. This ensures that all the aluminum pieces have holes 2” from the end. Or at least close enough.

I drilled 5/16” holes in them, even though the bolts are 1/4”. I wanted a little buffer in case they weren’t all perfectly aligned with the T-track.

For now I made 5 each, of 24”, 18”, and 12” pieces.

These are used in different T-tracks, depending on the planes they’re used for, and their length.

Here I’ve used the router and a straight edge guide to rout the grooves for the T-track. I used 4’ sections for the top and bottom rails, a 3’ section for the 18” dividers, and a 2’ section for the 12” dividers. I only did this because I only got 2 4’ pieces of T-track when they were on sale, and so it was cheaper to get the 3’ and 2’ pieces. It works out fine, anyway, as can be seen later.

I cut a 1/2” groove 1/4” from the edge of a board that will be used for the bottom rest. I only cut it about 1/8 or 3/16” deep. I didn’t really measure, because it doesn’t really matter.

There were a couple reasons for why I cut the groove, and the size I picked.

First reason being, a place to rest the planes in so they couldn’t somehow slide up and off the bottom board (not sure how, but hey, weird things happen)

And the second reason was in case the dividers weren’t drilled perfectly, it allowed for some overhang (which is why I made it 1/2” wide)

For the side pieces, I glued a a pair of 3/4” boards together to make a rabbet, essentially. I left the side piece 1/2” above the plywood. This matches up to the height of the aluminum dividers (not necessary, but it would have bugged me otherwise).

I cut notches in the end boards so I could still slide the T-bolts in them. I did this with a hand saw and chisel

I cut the grooves for the T-track in the plywood to a depth of 7/16”, so the T-track would sit about 1/16” below the surface. That is to keep any plane blades that don’t get retracted from hitting them. The problem with that, was it only left about 1/4” to screw the T-track into.

I got some screws that were 1/2” and some that were 1”. I alternated every other 1”, starting on the ends with 1”, and added some cross braces underneath.

After that, I cut some legs (I just eye-balled the angle, no idea what it is) and screwed them into the side pieces, and added a cross brace

I used 1/4-20 1” long T-bolts, and brass knurled nuts for the dividers


This is what this plane till was designed for. Here we’ve got a #4, #4, #5, #5.

Then, along comes a #4 1/2…

Now, being as picky as I am about things like this, I don’t want to add it to the end, because it’s larger than a #4, so it “belongs” between the #4’s and #5’s. With this till, not a problem.

Problem solved.

The T-track allows me to do pretty much whatever I can come up with. In this photo I’m using a spare 18” divider as a shelf for the Record 073 and Stanley #71, and made a custom shelf for my #45, a #46, and my spoke shave


A few other notes. I know it would have been cheaper to not use aluminum dividers, and instead use wood. That is what I was originally going to do, but then I decided to use the aluminum extrusions from 80/20 inc, because I could also use T-bolts in those as well. This allows me to make custom shelves or ladder type dividers for multiple block planes, or anything like that. I haven’t done this yet, but it was just expanded flexibility. Whether or not it’s “necessary” is up to whoever is using it. I just figured, if I’m going to run with this idea, I might as well go all out.

So there you have it. I hope that someone can find this useful, and feel free to ask any questions. I’ll do my best to help as much as I can.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

5 comments so far

View MattADK's profile


28 posts in 2723 days

#1 posted 01-19-2013 02:13 PM

That is VERY cool. Nice work!

-- Matt

View Mauricio's profile


7160 posts in 3485 days

#2 posted 01-19-2013 04:14 PM

Pretty cool. If you figure out how to put it on the wall it would make some pretty nice wall art for your apartment. :-)

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3820 days

#3 posted 01-19-2013 11:21 PM

OMG, well worth the two hours I surfed the internet on this beautiful day, just to run across your blog. Really, really impressive, functional, and definitely worth induction into Favorites. Not to mention your tool collection!!!

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Mosquito's profile


9711 posts in 2626 days

#4 posted 01-20-2013 05:07 AM

Thanks David. I appreciate hearing that :-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View AnthonyReed's profile


10103 posts in 2774 days

#5 posted 01-20-2013 11:11 PM

Top notch Mos. Brilliant.

-- ~Tony

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