Let's build a small infill smoother! #5: The Finish Line

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Blog entry by Ripthorn posted 03-08-2015 02:43 PM 2512 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Shaping up Part 5 of Let's build a small infill smoother! series no next part

Alright, I haven’t posted in a little while owing to needing to make a blade. Well, the stock came and I finally made one. It is 5/32” O1 that is just a tiny bit narrower than the plane opening to allow for side to side adjustments.

I put in brass wood screws into the infills. I used Philip’s head screws and used an automatic center punch to punch as much material as possible into the drive cavity before peening. It turned out really well on 5 of the 6 screws. On the last one, you can faintly see the remainder of the drive cavity. Oh well, live and learn. I also used brass rod to make custom screws (kind of like fillister head screws) for keeping in the lever cap. I cut threads using a die and used my dremel to cut the slot.

I also had to make a thumb screw. I wanted to use 3/4” brass, but brass is getting more expensive by the moment. So I had a little look around at what I had on hand and I had some 7/8 bronze. The conversation in my head went something like “Hey, bronze is just copper and tin while brass is copper and zinc. This should be roughly equivalent!” Well, there is a reason it was the bronze age and not the brass age. Bronze turns out to be harder than iron, but just a little softer than steel. It turns on a lathe like steel, but the chips are like dust instead of curly. On a band saw, it takes about as long to saw through as steel. In short, it is more like steel than brass. The color is about the only thing they share.

So after copious amounts of time spent turning, drilling, tapping, cutting, filing, and epoxying, I had myself a thumb screw made of brass, bronze, and purpleheart. I don’t have any pictures of just the thumb screw, but I did finish off the plane (except for hardening the iron). So here is what you really want:

And, just a couple shavings:

Post Build Wrap-up

So with that, it’s time to sum up lessons learned and tips, etc. Some of these might have actually been learned on my build of a pair of these small smoothers (which are almost done), but I think they belong here since this is more of a tutorial than the other blog.

- Use precision ground stock. It will add maybe $30 to the cost of the plane, but it will literally save you hours, and it is totally worth it. I will have build my pair of infills with precision ground stock in just slightly more time than this prototype using grody stuff.

- Use high quality, USA made drills. They really do make a big difference. I also suggest getting them in screw machine length. These are shorter, stiffer, and result in straighter holes (something I really needed on my pair build).

- Use cutting fluid and take your time

- Make sure everything is square very early on. That means square up the infill stock prior to cutting the angles and try to cut the steel as square as possible on the bandsaw or with your hack saw. Use scribe marks to help.

- Make sure you have a long enough toe. I think the prototype’s toe should be about 1/2” longer

- It turns out using tapped holes really is a better construction method in terms of getting stuff to match up. I just finished the peened through rivets on the pair build and I can say that for this build, using peened screws is a better way. It allows for better alignment and the like. For a thinner plane like a shoulder plane, through rivets are fine.

- Use a blue aluminum-zirconia sanding belt. These are not all that expensive, and mine has just finished shaping three of these infill planes (and that is a lot of steel removed, especially for a 4×24” belt) and it is still working like a champ. It has already saved me a bunch over regular aluminum oxide belts.

- Use precision ground stock. Yes, I sound like an O1 evangelist, but it just makes life so much easier.

So there you have it boys and girls. Total time on this guy is around 12-14 hours. I kind of lost track when it got to making screws and the like. Hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I! Now it’s time for this thing to find a box and get mailed to my brother.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

5 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5218 days

#1 posted 03-08-2015 05:39 PM

Good tips…

Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Hammerthumb's profile


3098 posts in 3140 days

#2 posted 03-09-2015 02:08 PM

Thanks Brian. This was a very informative build. I have work with bronze a little and understand what you went through. It’s tuff stuff.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3969 days

#3 posted 03-09-2015 11:13 PM

Some mighty fine machining.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Don W's profile

Don W

20121 posts in 3733 days

#4 posted 03-09-2015 11:35 PM

How did you make the cap screw?

It all looks good!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 4150 days

#5 posted 03-09-2015 11:59 PM

The cap screw is made of three pieces: the threads, the metal round piece, and the top wood. The method of construction went like this:

- Drill and tap some bronze rod for the 1/4” brass threaded rod (cut off from a long 1/4-20 brass screw)
- Cut off the bronze piece and run the tap through to make sure the threaded rod would thread in nicely
- Sand down what will be the bottom face of the bronze piece up to 1000 grit
- Epoxy the brass rod into the bronze piece with the brass somewhat recessed
- Flatten the top face of the bronze piece
- Epoxy the wood onto the top
- Shape the wood and sand the whole thing up to 1000 grit
- Apply finish

My little metal lathe made it easier, but it’s still plenty of work. I would like to be able to knurl, but that purchase is down the list a ways.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

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