Finger plane designs, prototypes etc.


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Hello all, I'm working up some designs for finger planes and I'd love to hear what you all think of what I have so far. 

 

A key element I'm trying to work in is some way of applying force with the palm while retaining the control in the fingertips. I'm not alone in suffering from really sore fingers when using finger planes, I'm sure, but I find fixed palm rests unbearable. The seems to give far too much leverage to allow any positional feedback on how the plane is sitting on the work, so I find the blade skips in and out as it is cammed off the wood. Does this tally with your experiences? 

 

I'm also trying to build in some really simple adjustment to the larger planes, which should make it a bit easier to tweak them on the fly rather than sharpening, fitting and forgetting. Is this just unnecessary complexity? 

 

I've been sharing some progress on this thread over on mandolincafe, if anyone's interested: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?122495-Finger-plane-designs-prototypes-etc

 

Here is a selection of rough prototypes, in vaguely chronological order:

 

This was the first in brass. you can see it has a dovetailed in boxwood sole. It's nice to use, but not enough to justify the extra wear and bulk.

 

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This is the adjustment mechanism I've worked out, it's pretty self explanatory. I was just trying to make one simple enough to work on a really small scale.

 

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The rather ungainly ball on the cap pops into the socket in this palm handle. The idea is that you can use your palm to put pressure on the plane, but steer it in three dimensions with your fingertips. Power-steering! It seems effective, although it's sitting too high on this prototype I think.

 

P3090143.JPG

 

The next thing I worked on was just an ergonomic study, really. I was trying to reduce the amount of 'squeeze' needed to keep hold of it as you're working.

 

P3270164.JPG

 

This one also has a 'rabbet plane' type iron, which is super handy for carving bass bars and just giving a bit more working area at the same size. That is, until you take one stroke across the grain, and the shavings immediately jam in the mouth. I tried giving the 'arms' a knife edge, but I think this kind of iron just doesn't work at all on this scale. 

 

P3270167.JPG

 

Bringing back the elements I'd worked out, but going back to a normal iron. Please excuse the 'knurling', I was in a hurry!

 

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The handle now snaps into the back of the adjuster, and fall under the fingers nicely.  The handle just pops out if it's not in use.

 

P3300201.JPG

 

I'm mostly concentrating on working up the 10/12mm size planes, as these seem to be the workhorses. However, I did have a go at translating this design to a tiny 5mm plane. Again, prototype quality so excuse the wobbles.

 

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Any thoughts on where these are going? Suggestions for improvements? I'd love to hear any and all opinions, as blunt as possible please.

 

Alf.

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Without holding your planes in my hand, it's difficult to comment with any certainty, but I find the recesses for thumb and finger to be appealing. I think the screw depth adjustment is unecessary complexity. I just can't comment on the swiveling palm handle without trying it. It is an interesting idea, especially when I imagine still doing most of the guiding and pushing with my fingers, but just getting a slight additional assist from the palm. With regard to the rabbeting plane, I'm submitting two photos of a plane designed by the guitar maker, Richard Schnieder. It's called the "Schnieder brace trimming plane," and I hope that you can see from the photos that the bottoms of the sides are tapered in towards the mouth, allowing the cutting action to get very close to an adjacent surface. It's not a rabbeting plane per say, but when is a true rabbeting thumb plane required?

post-77143-0-14564200-1460487119_thumb.jpeg

post-77143-0-54543100-1460487148_thumb.jpeg

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Here's a plane with screw depth adjustment and rabbeting capabilities. I once inquired here on Maestronet about who made this no longer available plane, and got an answer, but I can't remember who it was. It's designed to be pulled like a Japanese plane, with the index finger laid into that curve on the back side. I left Allen wrenches in place so you can see how it's adjusted, though of course you remove them to use it. The material is hard anodized aluminum.

post-77143-0-75793500-1460488527_thumb.jpeg

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Clearsky - thanks for bringing my attention to those two planes, I hadn't come across them. The tapered sides of the Schnieder plane are very similar to how I have ended up laying out the version I'm working on now, I think it's definitely more useful than the rebating blade. The rebating plane also has the potential to catch an edge and gouge a top, and I suppose is then not much safer than a gouge.

 

The one-sided rebate plane is really interesting, do you find much use for it? It does seem to solve all the clogging issues that plague finger planes. Do you find your hand obscuring the work as you pull it? It sounds rather clumsy, but like you say it's hard to know without it in your hand.

 

The blades are all set to around 50 degrees (obviously the curved sole means there's no concrete reference), which is the pitch I prefer for working tough woods: I figured spruce would be fine either way. Any strong opinions on the pitch? I think the first one looks steep because of the ugly-duckling cap...

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Violin planes can play havoc with your fingers. The twizer you make with the thumb and index finger to use the plane generates a lot of stress that eventully can ruin your fingers, leading to tendonites, etc. 

 

For this reason today I use whenever possible a squirrel tail plane, the Lee Nielsen one for more delicate job (while shaping the archings, for instance) and the Lee Valley for removing more wood.  I also made a wooden bigger squirrel tail plane that works as a scrub plane. 

 

I think that thumb planes incorporating some "ergonometric" ideas would be a great thing. 

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Beautiful work! You are clearly a very gifted tool maker

 

I used to complain constantly about finger plane design causing blisters and fatigue. After looking at the work of others here on MN, I came to the conclusion I was simply using these planes incorrectly.

 

I've changed my workflow recently to do 90% of my arching with gouges. Finger planes are used to remove the ridges left by the gouge markes and then toothing blades are used to complete the arch. In the end it is quicker and much easier on your hands.

 

In terms of plane design it might be worth while looking at some of the newer manufactured planes by CAG tools http://www.cag-tools.com. These are very different from your designs but may offer guidance on bed angles.

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Beautiful work! You are clearly a very gifted tool maker

 

I used to complain constantly about finger plane design causing blisters and fatigue. After looking at the work of others here on MN, I came to the conclusion I was simply using these planes incorrectly.

 

I've changed my workflow recently to do 90% of my arching with gouges. Finger planes are used to remove the ridges left by the gouge markes and then toothing blades are used to complete the arch. In the end it is quicker and much easier on your hands.

 

In terms of plane design it might be worth while looking at some of the newer manufactured planes by CAG tools http://www.cag-tools.com. These are very different from your designs but may offer guidance on bed angles.

I visited the cag-tools.com website. No information there about who they are, where located, or price list. Strange. How do they do business?

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Beautiful work! You are clearly a very gifted tool maker

 

I used to complain constantly about finger plane design causing blisters and fatigue. After looking at the work of others here on MN, I came to the conclusion I was simply using these planes incorrectly.

 

I've changed my workflow recently to do 90% of my arching with gouges. Finger planes are used to remove the ridges left by the gouge markes and then toothing blades are used to complete the arch. In the end it is quicker and much easier on your hands.

 

In terms of plane design it might be worth while looking at some of the newer manufactured planes by CAG tools http://www.cag-tools.com. These are very different from your designs but may offer guidance on bed angles.

I visited the cag-tools.com website. No information there about who they are, where located, or price list. Strange. How do they do business?

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I visited the cag-tools.com website. No information there about who they are, where located, or price list. Strange. How do they do business?

I noticed that too. Also, the finger planes all seem to have really wide mouths. Doesn't seem so state of the art to me.

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I visited the cag-tools.com website. No information there about who they are, where located, or price list. Strange. How do they do business?

I even tried to contact them using their fill in the blank page. In the box labeled "country",  it wanted a URL.

Their tools might be cool, but their website is not. They also use "knifes" instead of "knives." Is that a clue?

 

These tools are carried by Cremona Tools.

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Don't want to highjack Alfie's thread but as a side bar... looking at the CAG marketing site it is clear it wasn't written by a native English speaker, but that doesn't mean anything. The designs seem to be a variation on the old norris and preston tools. I have a few of the CAG planes -- i did a mini review here

 

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/334112-how-precise-is-a-herdim-finger-plane-out-of-the-box/?p=717625   

 

Try Cremona tools they seem to be the only one that carries them.

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The CAG website is quite odd, it seems half-finished. I like their video, interesting to see how they invest the 'trees' of planes when they're casting. The tools don't seem unusual at all, material aside?

 

Thanks for all the feedback, it's invaluable. Interesting talk about bed angles, I think I may have been guilty of blindly believing that 50 degrees is optimum for tough wood. A little playing around does suggest that something closer to 40 is a bit easier going, and doesn't seem to tear out figure badly. Here is a rough CAD model of a version that has the blade bedded at 40 degrees, and the mouth pushed back a little for more 'toe' in front of the blade. I think it fits together well like this, it's a lower slung but not unreasonably. Any thoughts?

 

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I use those leather finger guards that Woodcraft sells on my index finger while using finger planes. The sell them as finger protectors for carving to protect against cuts. I never get blisters or a sore finger. They really work.

 

I did a quick search for these finger guards, but they don't appear to be currently stocked/available on the Woodcraft site.  Do you have any pics to share?

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I've been using CAD a little to juggle around the insides, and I've managed to really reduce the bulk. I think the prototypes were just getting too massive: this model now has only 1.8mm of brass either side of the throat. I'v also dropped the bed angle to 40 degrees, I played around with some wooden planes and that seemed to be the sweet spot in terms of ease, although of course there is a hair more tearout. Substantially less effort to push though, so I think worth it: thanks for bringing that up. Here is a print next to the earlier prototype. Both have a 12mm iron.

 

P4170490-001.JPG

 

The toe is extended here, there's enough room to leave a finger on it without blocking the throat.

 

P4170484-001.JPG

 

P4170486-001.JPG

 

This version has parallel sides, which in the hand I think is a mistake: the bulge in the middle was a good stop for the fingers. However, the slightly flatter indent does allow different grips, which I think is important. 

 

I scaled up the 12mm model to 18mm, just to see how it worked at that scale. I think proportionally it needs some tweaking, the toe seems overly thick.

 

P4170494-001.JPG

 

I also knocked up a little bevel-up block plane with the same DNA, to see if it translated ok. I'm really pleased with this one, do you think it would be a useful part of the range? I would use something like this a lot working on a mandolin, for jobs like planing the landing for the fingerboard on the top and fitting blocks, but those don't translate to violins. Fingerboards? 

 

 

P4170500-001.JPG

 

This was a bit much for my little MAPP torch, the joints aren't fantastic!

 

 

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The hypothetical family:

 

P4170507-001.JPG

 

Any and all criticism gratefully received, especially negative!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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