Friday, 3 December 2010

Hyperkitten Adds More Than Another Plane To My Stash…


It is a strange thing about people who make their living from computers. When they want to take the usual coffee break or whatever, most that I know never leave their monitors. I’m the same way. When I think it is time to take a break and clear my head, I wander off into the woodworking cyber world and check out whose doing what, or who’s selling what.

During these little treks I have often visited hyperkitten.com. I have found many of the projects listed there to be well documented and complete, so it is an interesting site. It was on this site that I discovered an extensive how-to for making a Frame Saw, something I am very keen on making. On a previous visit, I noticed that tool sales had been added to the site’s repertoire, but for some reason, it just didn't connect. After seeing this site mentioned in Chris Schwarz’s column, though, I decided to take a more serious look at his offerings.

I noticed he listed some wood moulding planes, but none included were examples of H.E. Mitchell, the only maker I am collecting now. As I usually do, both to see if there is a possibility the vendor has one that is not listed, plus to check out how they respond to customer inquiries, I sent off an email to the site asking two questions; did he have any examples of ol’ Henry’s planes and could he recommend a blade for the frame saw I am planning to make in the very near future using his instructions.

Knowing that the site was just listed that day in the Popular Woodworking blog, I figured the guy would be swamped with emails as no one makes or breaks a woodworking tool business faster than Schwarz, so I didn’t expect to hear back for a few days. Surprisingly, a few hours later, Josh, the site’s operator replied. Not only was he fast on the button, but he came back with a positive regarding a Mitchell plane and with information regarding the saw blade.

I jumped at the plane, even though I knew I already had one of the same profile. We struck a deal; I sent off the payment and today, the plane arrived.

In actual fact, the plane was not the same as mine, but slightly different. I still haven’t got my head around the different profiles, but both of these are sash planes that include a cove. The difference is, mine is a 1¾” with a ⅝” cove, with the designation “1”… 

…while Hyperkitten’s is designated with a “2”.
They look pretty much the same, but when I turn the images into line drawings and overlap them, the difference starts to become pretty obvious…
When the No. 2 was created, the mother plane was shifted to the left slightly. Whether this is intentional or not, I have no idea, but I am sure someone could clarify it for me.

When I compared them, I read that shifting of the cove to the left as a way of allowing for a shallower cut, giving a slightly smaller cove.  I then assumed that Sash planes came with different sized coves and the number designation was similar to Hollows and Rounds. When I mentioned this to Josh, he quickly set me straight, and I thank him for it.

Josh mentioned that the mouth of the planes should be different, one being larger than the other, and sure enough, the No. 1 plane’s mouth is 3/16” across the width of the blade. The No. 2 is a quarter of an inch across that same area. Every other measurement that I made in all the other areas of the mouths on both planes are exactly the same, and I mean exactly.

As Josh explained it to me, the wider mouth allowed for the blade to be set rank to hog off material. The narrower mouth was so the final finishing passes could be made with thinner cuts. This allowed for faster production while still maintaining quality.

When I put it all together, the No. 2 plane, with the wider mouth, is the first plane to tackle the board and then it is gone over again, once the profile has been pretty much cut, with the No. 1 to clean and smooth things up. Brilliant.

Now those that have read my posts in the past know that I am rather anal about things matching, wanting everything to not only be matched by manufacturer, but by production dates as well, and if things end up in pairs, it is a huge bonus for me.

Well solely by accident, guess what? I have a matched pair of H.E. Mitchell Sash Planes.

Brilliant. Just bloody brilliant.

Peace.

Mitchell