Making the Tools. Part II: The Rounding Plane

This post won’t be quite as long as the last, because frankly, the best instructions available for making a simple rounding plane are already on the internet. Just head over to Tim Manney’s blog and you’ll have one up and running in an hour or two (He calls it a tenon cutter – same thing).

I couldn’t help taking a few photos, though, just to prove that his process actually works. I briefly considered using more osage-orange to make a rounding plane that matches my reamer. But this process requires accurate planing, drilling, sawing, and reaming, so I decided a milder wood was in order. I dimensioned a 12″ length of cherry to 2 1/8″ (the width of my blade) by 3″ (enough width to clamp in my vice, but otherwise arbitrary).

I bored in a 5/8″ hole (since this will be the top diameter of the leg holes in my Windsor chair seats) about 3/8″ from the edge of the blank, and used my tapered reamer to cut the taper.

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Accuracy isn’t strictly necessary, but I decided to shoot for a perfectly vertical mortise as practice for actual chairmaking.
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It helps to have a skillful apprentice or two.
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The mortise turned out smoother than I expected!
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I used a flat-bladed plane to dial in the top surface until I had an even opening peaking through. Then I marked it out with a square and cut the throat about 1/4″ wide with a knife.
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I sharpened a spare spokeshave iron and clamped it down with a large wood screw and a washer. I planed the top down little-by-little and re-tested several times until I was able to pull a consistent, contruction-paper-thick shaving from turned beech. This sucker was dialed in and working beautifully.
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The tenon fit snugly in a sassafras mortise above…
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…And below.

Last step: Treat your apprentices to a walk in the woods and a Thermos full of hot chocolate.

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