building an infill hand plane of my dreams

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Blog entry by benchbuilder posted 08-04-2014 09:31 PM 1475 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well its about 4 weeks into this project, building an infill hand plane of my dreams, and all I have to show for it is a lot of drawings and some wooden templets. Trying to decide on the plane I want isn’t the problem its the material, have you ever tried to just go buy a sheet of 1/4” brass, or a low carbon steel flat ground. How about that exotic wood that makes these plane really stand out. Well I am here to tell you that I now know why the pros charge the 800 to 1500 dollars.
About 4 weeks ago I decided after looking at some of the really nice infills offered online that I wanted one and wanted to build it.
So first of all picking one to build was a job in itself, you can get them about anyway you can think of. I wanted a smoother and with a 2” iron, a Stanley style tote and in steel and brass. No big deal right, WRONG, I first tried to get the brass at the local scrap yard, but I think I can make a house payment with that much money. So I tried to get the steel, which has to be about 90% flat ground and squared as I don’t have a surface grinder or milling machine. This too was a problem, they have lots of steel but nothing like I am looking for. But not to worry I have the internet and a world to buy from, right???? I first searched for the brass, found lots of it, and a lot of different cost for the same size stock. The problem here is they want you to buy it in 18, 24, 36, and 72” lengths if your not buying it by the truck load. Again, the cost is really crazy, 45 dollars for a 18” x 2”x 3/8” bar of brass, at first I thought it was gold at those prices. After being assured it wasn’t gold, I asked the guy about some flat ground steel, again there are a ton of types and grades all with prices to match, this time its not gold, its silver,,, So I turned to my local woodworking store to look for some nice exotic wood to build my dream plane with. WOW, I thought the steel and brass was high, this stuff is about as costly per bf and for the small amount I wanted, its even more costly, cheaper to buy larger amounts.
Now after a lot of searching, thinking, change of plan and new ideas, I have decided that I will try to do the same plane I first wanted to build but in a series of different materials. I have read a bit about micarta, its a material used for knife handles and in electrical panels, its got all the right stuff for this project. The big problem is its in just a few colors and not near as heavy. But the cost is within my range and not too hard to get. As with all things, shipping costs and handling fees are a bit out of control, these costs are as much as the parts your buying. I have decided on the black linen micarta and a ivory micarta. I may yet spring for a bit of the exotic wood for the tote but not sure as this micarta makes really nice handles. For a plane, micarta may seem like a strange material, but its nearly as strong as the brass and stronger than the fancy exotic hardwoods. See, my reading and searching has paid off, so I will try it and if its a bust, then I will just have a nice wall hanger.
Just wanted to shear this bit of road trip down frustrating lane, as I progress or not, I will keep it all in mind to do another blog. Maybe a few pics if I ever get this photobuck thing going. The good thing about woodworking is its never boaring and will keep you busy looking learning and doing for a life time. I love it.

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