Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Brese 875 Smoother--It's Done

After a couple months of work, the Brese 875-W50 is complete. Here's an explanation of the model number.

875 stand for 8-3/4", the length of the plane's sole.

W stands for "wide", a reference to the 2-1/4" wide iron.

And finally 50 stands for the bedding angle. Since this is a bevel down plane, it also refers to the cutting angle.

After a week of finishing the ebony and another week of curing time, I rubbed out the finish (padding lacquer, followed by a few thin coats of Tru-Oil) and applied a couple coats of Renaissance Wax, honed the iron, and set plane to wood. I have a particular piece of cherry that I like to test planes with. It had some curl to it, but not too much. It strikes a good balance between "difficult" and "cooperative". It also looks beautiful when planed.

This kit was extremely satisfying to build. With careful work, diligence, and some coaching from Brese, I now own a world-class infill plane capable of taking incredibly fine shavings, well under one thousandth of an inch. But more importantly, the surface of the wood left in this plane's wake is stunning. Absolutely smooth, lustrous, silky, chatoyant, with great depth and character. It just begs to be touched.

Thanks to Ron Brese for providing a way, with some skilled work of course, for more people to enjoy the pleasure of high-performance planes at a more reasonable cost. I can't recommend enough a plane kit from Brese Plane.

One can only describe the performance of this tool to an extent. It really has to be experienced. So I'll let these photos do the rest of the talking. Make sure you also take a look at the following video, it should give a better idea of the performance of the tool. Warning: In order to preserve the high quality video, this is a large file, about 28 megabytes.

Video: Brese 875-W50

If you're interested in obtaining a plane kit from Ron, he can be reached at

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Brese 875 Smoother--Inlaying the Diamonds

Ron sent me some gold mother pearl diamonds from DePaule Supply for inlaying the front bun and top of the tote. It's a bit daring I suppose to inlay these after pinning the infills, since ruining the infills at this point would be a big loss. I wasn't worried though. These little diamonds are pretty easy to inlay.

I glued each diamond to the ebony with a tiny dot of CA glue.

Before I tacked the one for the tote, I lap sanded the underside of it to match the curve of the horn.

Then I scribed around the diamonds with my new favorite straight scribing tool, my Kerf Kadet marking knife.

I routed out the majority of the mortise with a 3/32" upcut spiral bit.

Then I routed as close as I dare to the scribe line with a 1/32" upcut end mill.

I used the scribe line to register my chisel, a prototype model from Czeck Edge, and pared the remaining waste away.

The OptiVisor makes close work a breeze.

I like to burnish the edges of the mortise to guarantee a tight fit.

Epoxy mixed with fine ebony dust for the glue.

One thing I don't read much about in plane making or plane fettling is flattening the bevel side of the iron. In a bevel up plane, this is the part of the iron that rests against the bed, and should be dead flat. Ron's irons are precision ground, so the lapping process is fairly easy. I spent less than ten minutes getting the iron flat. I haven't confirmed with Ron how far back to flatten, but preliminary tests with this iron and the plane (yes, it's done as I write this!) are yielding incredible results.

I won't write about fitting the lever cap in this plane, since the process is that same as the small smoother I did last year. Info on that can be found here.

Here's a little sneak peek of how this plane is performing. Better pics to follow...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Brese 875 Smoother--Pinning the Infills

The infills on the Brese plane are pinned to the body using two methods. The first requires a 3/8" aluminum dowel to be placed through both infills in the area close to the mouth. The pin is then installed into this dowel. The other pins are simply wood screws like on the Brese small smoother I did last year. Here I'm drilling the front infill for the 3/8" dowel.

To keep the dowel from rotating when drilling and tapping into the end, a small dowel is installed through the bottom of the infill.

The pin extends about half way into the 3/8" dowel.

The rear infill gets the same treatment...

...except drilling into the bottom of the wedge-shaped piece presents some challenges. I came up with a quick and dirty jig for holding the infill.

It did the trick.

Once the dowels were placed it was time to drill through the sides and into the infill (or dowels). Here I've mounted the plane in a drill press vise. I used shims to raise the plane off the metal surface for protection. The wood piece on the right is also shimmed above the plane side so it presses on the top edge of the rear infill when the vise is tightened, pressing the infill tight to the plane sole for the pinning operation.

Drilling the pilot hole for the 8-32 machine screws.

The holes for the pins are countersunk for peining over. I turned the countersink manually while in the chuck for a smooth and precise chamfer. I didn't want any chattering.

The c-clamp ensures the rear section of the rear infill stays tight to the sole for drilling the rear holes for the wood screws.

Tapping the aluminum dowels through the sides of the plane while still clamped in the vise.

The chamfer is sized so the screw seats before the slot reaches the plane side.

I was a bit "file" lazy, and decided that I could grind down the heads of the pins with my 1" belt grinder. I could see exactly what was happening, and the results were predictable and controlled.

I ground down to about the bottom of the slot.

I was able to get real close without touching the plane body at all.

The I peined the heads into the chamfers.

Then back to the grinder to remove most of the steel. Amazingly, I was able to get within a few thousandths on the belt grinder. I took the rest down with a file until I was within a couple thou of the sides.

Then straight to the surface plate for lapping the sides. I started with 180 grit and worked through 400. Anything beyond this I think is too shiny. I like the surface that the 400 gives.