For the secret project I’m working on (you’ll see it in a few weeks…I can’t post anything on the internet or the surprise will be ruined for this gift), I want to cut shallow 1/8″ wide grooves in some 1/4″ thick aspen dove tail boxes. These grooves will go around all 4 sides on the inside and allow me to install thin plywood as a bottom for these little boxes. Simple enough, right?
The only hangup was a way to cut these grooves. I could have used a chisel and just hacked away at it until the groove was deep enough. I could also have hooked up the router table and tried it that way. But, I don’t think I have a bit small enough to make the desired groove, and I don’t have enough experience with big stock on a router table, let alone this little 1/4″ thick, 4″ wide aspen. I need more practice before I attempt that.
So that left (in my mind at least) one more option: a router plane or a plow plane. Since I don’t have a few hundred bucks to drop on a plow plane I decided to make my own router plane.
I looked up man fine examples on the internet and realized that there’s not much to a shop made router plane: a block for the body (in my case, 2, to give a nice little leveled effect….”with a little path in between…a path! a path!”) with a hole cut out so the blade can work and you can see what you’re doing, an Allen wrench shaped into a blade and fit through the block(s), a screw of some kind to tighten the Allen wrench in place. That’s pretty much it!
Last night, I glued up two pieces of oak, one was 3/4″ thick and 4″ wide, the other was 1/2″ thick and 1 1/2″ wide. When they were dry I headed to the drill press and using a 1″ Forstner bit, I cut some holes in the wide piece to make space for the blade and to see what I’m doing.
Next I drilled a hole straight through the plane for the Allen wrench/blade. With a sort of clover leaf pattern established I hooked up the router plane into the Moxon-mini bench vise and had at with my rasp. Never used one of those before—man was it fun! Tore through that oak like nobody’s business!
Once those two holes were drilled, I drilled a wider hole for a t-nut and bolt to lock the Allen wrench in place. I know most people use threaded inserts or thumbscrews or what not, but this is what I had. The brass looking t-nut actually is a leftover from building the Sky Fort!
Don’t ask what the bevel angle is…or the angle on the back. I have no idea. I just know it works!
Next it was time to cut a groove in the bottom of the plane so the newly born iron can seat itself as high as possible to start a cut. This was easily accomplished with a 1/8″ chisel and the mallet. Chop it out and angle it down and you got yerself a groove.
Now that everything is basically done, I took the plane body to the belt sander and smoothed it out so it was more comfortable to hold. It didn’t take long to get nice rounded corners and a more finished look. Not a showpiece, mind you, but she’ll do. Maybe later I’ll trim up corners or reshape it a bit. I didn’t have time today*.
Then I took the iron over to the scary sharp station and polished up that new blade on some 600 and 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Time to teach this Allen wrench who’s boss…
After a few minutes with the sand paper, I decided it was time for another test drive. Using the marking gauge to score two parallel lines on one of my box sides where I want the bottom to fit, I put the router to the test:
And was rewarded with a perfect little cone shaving of aspen! Cue up George Takei!
Sadly, my happy dance was rudely interrupted (see note below) and that was all I could do today. BUT! I am now set up to get the bottoms of those little boxes installed. So excited this little project came together as nice as it did!
* As soon as I took the picture of the first shaving, my daughter decided to have an explosive bowel movement in her crib. Needless to say, shop time was over for the day. Cleanup in aisle 7!!!