Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mini Coffin Smoother, Part 1

What do you do when you have a little bit of time to play in your shop? You build a little project.

I started to build a miniature coffin smoother yesterday and still have a ways to go, but thought I'd show you the progress so far.

I have a few antique miniature planes, and referred to one that's only 3" long (top photo) as a prototype.

The blank I'm using is pearwood (I believe), cut oversized for easier clamping. I'm not sure what the final shape of the body will be, only that it will have some chip carving.

The bed angle is 45º; the front angle (looking down from the top) is about 62º; and the lower portion of the front angle is open enough to provide clearance for shavings, but beefy enough to support the front of the mouth.

The toughest part for me is making sure the bed is flat and the shoulders that hold the wedge in place are identical.

Next up...making the blade.


Timberwerks Studio - Dale J. Osowski - Furniture Maker said...

Wow, very nice. Looking forward to seeing the first shavings.

Stephen Shepherd said...


Sweet smoother and a perfect time of year for coffin shaped objects.

I use soot on the blade to mark the high spots on the bed.

Make a pattern from your wedge to use to layout the cheeks on the wedge escarpment. Account for the blade thickness on the layout.

I also make my wedge blanks longer, so I can trim them down without running out of wood.


Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Dale. It's fun to make these little guys.

Stephen, I use the same technique--soot--to show the high spots. I wave the blade over a candle. Works great. Maybe I should carve the front end to look like Dracula??? ; )

EMBO said...

Definitely inlay some fangs...

Doug Berch said...

Very impressive Kari. I have been thinking of making a plane from a solid block but have felt the task to be daunting. You give me inspiration!

I bet it will come out great!

Dan Barrett said...

Kari can I suggest that you leave the throat a little too tight and then you can either back file the front to allow the blade to project through or plane the sole until the blade just pokes through. It helps to keep the throat nice and tight. Looks good and you probably know this but do not plane the top of the plane until everyting is done, that way those who look at it will be amazed at how crisp the profiles are.

naomi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
naomi said...

Are you sure that's a little project?! I mean, the end result is little, but i've never thought of making a plane as a small undertaking. You make it look easy, though, Kari! I can't wait to see the carvings!

Woodbloke said...

Hi Kari - I told you Philly was going to have some competition! Nice little project...I hear that the LN plane floats are excellent for this sort of work. I tried one at West Dean near Chichester last year and was surprised at how well they cut. Double iron or single? - Rob

Joseph Pritchard said...

Wow Kari, cool "little" project! Carving this time of year just has to be a punkin' face!

Kari Hultman said...

Emily, that would make it a handpain (get it? get it?)

Doug, you can do this--I guarantee it!

Thanks, Dan. I use a file to very carefully open the mouth just so the blade can poke through, but haven't tried planing the sole. That sounds like a better idea so I can clean up my lines at the same time.

Naomi, that's funny you should say that. You should see the number of handtools laying on my bench just to make this little plane. It's ridiculous.

Rob--Philly and all the other planemakers out there have nothing to worry about. I do not have their expertise, patience, or know-how. I have a number of floats but they all need to be honed to work properly (and I was too lazy to sharpen them).
This plane will just have a single iron with a wedge. Making the iron is fun--it's heat treating that I don't like. Flames and all--scary.

Joseph, a punkin' plane! Cute!

Jake - SawDustby said...

Cool, it made me hunt up some old books by Alexander G. Weygers. "The Modern Blacksmith" 1974 and "Making of Tools" 1973 by Van Nostrand Reinhold Comp.

I even found the receipt when Jan ordered them from Woodcraft in Nov 1981 for Christmas.

Knowing you, if you read these, Nancy would wake up one morning and find a forge in the back yard!


John Cashman said...

Very nice. I made a compass plane a long time ago, but hadn't realized the front-to-back and side-to-side curves would make a very odd shaped mouth. Are you using a parallel or tapered blade? how thick? And where did you find pear?

Kari Hultman said...

Jake, don't think I haven't thought about making a forge in the backyard. ; ) I'll add those books to my wish list--thanks!

John, those compass planes are cool but I can imagine they'd be challenging to make. So far I've only make flat-soled planes. The iron is just a flat piece of 01 tool steel that's 1/8" thick. I can't remember where I bought the European Pear--might have been Hearne Hardwoods in PA. It is a wonderful wood to work.

Josh P. said...


What is the size of the blade in this plane (width wise)? What is the overall size of the blank you are using?

Best Regards,

Kari Hultman said...

Josh, the blade is 1" wide x 3" long x 1/8" thick. The wood blank (before cutting to size and shape) is 1 3/4" wide x 11 1/4" long x 1 1/4" thick.