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Restoring Planes: Metal and Wooden

  Forescrub - Beware the Worm!! by Scott Grandstaff

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Hey Galoots,

So, remember when we were last talking about scrub planes?  I think it was a month or two back...?  I mentioned I hadn't ever tried a wooden forescrub. Heard they were being used and liked but it's not exactly wooden plane riches around these parts.

Our own Bill Taggart popped up later and offered me an old wooden foreplane to work on and see how I liked the engineering of it all.  Kind of a size in-between a heavy jack and a fore. (That was kind of a dumb thing to say, wasn't it??  A heavy jack and a short foreplane is the same thing isn't it? ) Oh well, pay no attention.

One day I got it.  An entire generation of woodworms had had their fill of this one! Looked like someone had shot it with birdshot, repeatedly!! :-)  So, first thing I did was soak it down in termite medicine and seal it up in a plastic bag for a month or more.  Just in case. I didn't want an invasion in my shop, holy molly.  I took it out and left it out in the open air out back for a week.  Finally brought it in and looked it over close for the first time.

Well, this one was well seasoned veteran before the worms had at it.  The wedge was present but it was toast. Too far cracked and too much wood missing to save. A new one would have to be made.  I found me some wormy maple. It wouldn't match, but some stain and wax would bring it closer and what else was I going to do with wormy maple?? :-)

The tote was present and merely chipped a little at the horn, but in typical 19th century style, it must have been made for Mickey Rooney! Must be about a size 6 (I take an 8 1/2) .

Guess what I found rummaging around my scrap boxes? Some wormy myrtle burl!!
Well, not totally burl, only a little burl grain, more like wormy myrtle butt!  I set to and carved a proper fitting tote for myself!  Not quite as wormy as the plane, but enough worm holes to keep me from using that little piece for anything else.  Did I mention there is a use for every piece of wood?  Yup, if you hold onto it long enough, and can find it again when you want it, sooner or later there is a perfect use for any piece of wood.

The myrtle is similar in color to ancient old beech and being as it's butt wood, it wasn't easy to work, but I don't think you could break with a short crowbar!  Myrtle is a hard wood anyway.  Usually it doesn't have much bending strength (doesn't bend at all, but with enough force it will break instead) but in this case being as the grain swirls around every which way, I expect it to last.  Also is usually very pale brown and pretty lackluster in color unless you are doing Danish modern or something.  This old butt, with the worms and all, it had taken on some color of it's own.  Of course, a fitting size 8 1/2 tote wasn't going to fit in under the blade in the old position. No way in the world.

So, you know what?  I love a razee plane. Always did.  I just upped and lopped off the offending stock.  Guess what I found?  The worms had bored all the way to the center of the plane.  All the way!!  That surprised me.  I expected to find virgin wood in the middle.  I chopped a new mortise for the new tote, setting it back just a little. I like a little more swinging room to tap a blade than the usual near zero clearance.  Wooden plane tote mortises are round tapered at the back end, this is why you only need one screw in front to hold them. So you are chopping kind of a round dovetail from the top with gouges. 

I chopped open the throat to accept the big chips that were about to pass it. Chopping a throat open, for a toolmaker, is a very weird experience to say the least. Keeping the throat tight as you can, is what you always do.  Actually chopping one open??  Well you kind of have to close your eyes and bite your lip some.  Talk about "Working against the grain!!"  I ground the nice deep arc of a scrub blade for it.  Another thing not so easy to do.  To take a perfectly good old tapered blade and make a round ender.  I curved is about as much as I figured I could get away with and still use the capiron.

One wedge cheek had a classic crack on one side.  There was evidence of an old attempted, and failed glue job here.

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