Monday, October 19, 2009

Mini Coffin Smoother, Part 3

Planes are just chunks of wood with a piece of metal captured inside. What's to get excited about?

And yet we do. Our hearts beat a little faster—almost as bad as first date excitement, but without the "please don't let him/her have a weird toenail fungus fetish" anxiety—when we see anything from the most basic, old, unusable bench plane to the most elegant, artistic planes available today.

And whether we see it as a tool that performs a service or we admire it as a piece of usable artwork, we can all agree that handplanes are objects of our desire.

16th c. Dutch planes with chip carved ornamentation, antique European planes that are carved as faces and figures, and reproductions made by toolmaker David Brookshaw make my palms sweaty.

I'm trying, with baby steps, to get to that level. So here's a baby plane with chip carving. I still need to tweak the blade and the fit to get it to work properly, but the outside is done.

Now for the hardest part: finishing. This is where I screw up most projects. I'd like for the plane to look old, so I'm open to suggestions.

Waiting for it to occur naturally in 300 years is not an option.


John Cashman said...

Stunning. Nice, nice work. I'd go with boiled linseed oil, and then maybe a light coat of dewaxed shellac, and/or some Renaissance wax. The best way to "age" a plane is to use it, alot.

If you want to give the iron a patina, try Birchwood Casey's Plum Brown gun barrel finish. It gives a great antiqu finish, and actually protects steel from rust.

Again, nice.

Darnell said...

The throat is a stunning shape, and I like the chevron that the carving makes following it.

The design on the side is perfect, simple and flowing without being busy.

The overall look is beautiful, and very feminine. Well done, Kari.

Dan Barrett said...

Ok I like it but did the picture with the shavings not come through?

EMBO said...

I spit water all over my monitor when I got to the line about toenail fungus! Here's a weird suggestion...what about shoe polish? Obviously I'd try that on some scrap first, but it might give you some of the color you're looking for.

Jake-SawDustby said...

Much to be proud of, excellent work, beautiful. I showed it to Jan, she gasped in agreement.

Anonymous said...

Give it a coat of linseed-oil and use it !!

Onli the natural way gives the real finish

Heinrich H

The Cottage Workshop said...

Kari, that's just ridiculously beautiful.
How about this, finish with BLO and wax and let us ALL get our hands on it to use. Although I would probably just stare at it.
It is definitely inspiring.

Kari Hultman said...

John, thanks for the tip on aging the metal--I hadn't thought about it, but it would look much better that way.

Thanks, Darnell!

Dan, the shavings shot was in the #2 post, but I need to work on that a bit. The shavings are too thick right now. It's not the mouth; it's a blade that's not sharp enough and a bed that's not flat enough, so the blade wiggles.

Emily, Yes! Mission accomplished. :o)
I never thought of shoe polish, but it seems like it would work to darken a piece.

Thank you, Jake (and Jan!)

Heinrich, you're right. You are absolutely right. The way that old planes got that beautiful patina was from linseed oil, oily hands, grease, grime and sawdust.

Kari Hultman said...

Richard--haha! That's a great idea. :o)

Anonymous said...

Frankly, Kari, I was stunned by your skill and design of the coffin smoother. It is truly a thing of beauty as well as being functional. Wow!

Unknown said...

looks beautiful kari-

i didn't realise how small it was until the last shot with the penney. incredible detail. :)

Auguste Gusteau said...

My most sincere congratulations, a very good work.

Woodbloke said...

Hi Kari - great job on the little plane...the first time I saw it I was instantly reminded of an old fashioned iron with the pointy front, not a lot of good for putting a crease in your best 501's though!
Can't really help with the aging effect either...possibly a couple of coats of boiled linseed oil and then maybe a good application of a dark wax of some sort.
The other option that you haven't considered is as a time travelling parter of Dr Who...easy then to spin the dials in the Tardis and see what it looks like in 300 years
Pics look great btw - Rob

David said...

Wow kari! What else to say? Nice, realy nice carving and original shape!

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Tom. It's just 3.75" long, so it fits nicely in one hand.

Auguste, thank you. :o)

Rob, I kinda thought it looked like a little boat. But it's probably closer to looking like an old iron. Dr. Who was an option I hadn't considered. That's brilliant!!

Thank you, David. :o)

I just put a coat of BLO on it tonight and the pearwood is gorgeous. I must get more of this wood. It takes a finish extremely well.

Bob Tinsley said...

Absolutely beautiful, Kari! A wonderful job, design and execution. You should be proud!


Anonymous said...


I think you already know what IM going to say.......

What about a little bit of 2 lb cut orange shellac. Should wear well after you use it a few hundred times......which should be about a week for you..:P

It;s a beautiful piece no matter what you choose!!


Gye Greene said...

Nice! The carving makes it look Nordic.


Gary Roberts said...

There's this guy over at the Full Chisel Blog who happens to know a lot about finishing for an aged look. I bet he'ld be happy to give you some advice...


Jim said...

In my opinion (and I know many people disagree with me), there's nothing more crass than a nice new tool tricked up to look old! Let it age naturally, honestly and with integrity - as all great tools should age!

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Bob!

Dave, shellac is one of my very favorite finishes, but I went ahead and used BLO for this. It really looks nice on the pearwood.

GG--Yea, Nordic! What a great idea. I'll look into some Nordic/Scandinavian patterns for the next plane.

Gary, I bet Stephen uses his newly-made tools so much, they age naturally very quickly. :o)

Jim, thanks for the advice. I wound up putting 2 coats of BLO on it and it looks great. Pearwood is gorgeous and takes finish very well. I might put a light coat of dark wax on top, but I won't do anything tricked up. ; )

Bob Easton said...

Dang it Kari!

You're killin us out here. How's anyone to keep up when you make them tools so durn fancy. You and that Economaki guy are makin it dang near impossible for us normal folks to make somethin we're proud of.

(switching from my native Hoosier tongue to my transplanted New York lingo...)

YO! Outa sight!

The Cottage Workshop said...

Looking at it again, I like how the leaf carvings echo the leaf shape of the plane body. Also how the carvings are wispy and curly just like the plane shavings. It would be nice to see a series of planes to match such as a jack and a jointer.
BLO and fruitwood are an amazing combination. I use it on crabapple I have and I'm pleasantly surprised every time.

Woodworkers Source said...

Wow! Side note, you also take really nice pictures of the project that make it easy to see the details.


Stephen Shepherd said...

Nice looking plane. Now if you want it to look old (let me use it for a couple of weeks, hehe) or put a coat of boiled linseed oil, thinned 50% with turpentine and add yellow ocher pigment (artist oil colors work great if you can't get powdered pigments). Apply to the entire plane and wipe off the excess.

If it is not yellow enough initially then after 24 hours (so the oil dries) give it another coat, wiping off the excess.

After the first coat is dry then usining the same linseed/turps mix add burnt umber and apply to the plane. Wipe off the excess, you can't get it out of the chip carvings and that is good for the overall look.

When it is dry, it is fit for use.

It is impossible to make something look old with one coat of stain. Wood as it ages turns either red or yellow, so that is your first coat and burnt umber always seems to work for the second coat, Van Dyke Brown also works but not as red as burnt umber.


Kari Hultman said...

Bob, you have those accents down pat! LOL

Richard, I actually hadn't planned any of that--your observations are much more thoughtful.

Thanks, Mark. :o)

Stephen, thank you for the information on "aging" wood. I'll keep this on hand in my finishing folder. Yes, I'm THAT organized. heh.

Alan said...

Fabulous plane with lovely carving. I'm immensely jealous of your ability.
I had a quick question for you if you have the time; I have a plane almost identical to the older coffin smoother that you have in some of your pictures. I presume you were using it for size reference. The iron that I have for the smoother needs to be replaced but living in Ireland I cannot find a suitable iron over here. Would you have any idea where I might find on online?
Thanks and nicely done, I'm sure it looks even better with the the BLO on there.


Kari Hultman said...

Alan, it may be easiest to make your own iron because it might be difficult to find one that matches your miniature plane, especially width-wise. If you do a search on my blog for making plane irons, you'll see my write-up. Or email me directly if you need help.

You can also visit the site, check the links for resources, and ask questions on the forum about finding replacement blades.

Another thought is to visit and contact them to see if they have sources for old plane irons.

Hope that helps!

Trevor Walsh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.