Thursday, February 5, 2009

Brese 875 Smoother--Making Progress

After some time off I'm back to working on the Ron Brese 875 smoother kit. A spare moment here or there is all I can snatch lately.

Last I was struggling with what to do with the front bun, after a string of cold weather had caused excessive dryness in the shop and caused a small check to develop. After forcing some flexible thin CA glue into the check with pneumatic pressure (a straw and some lung power right over the check) and subsequent lapping, and repeat, the check is now "in check". I think after the bun is finished the problem should be gone forever, barring another string of super cold and dry shop conditions. I also fit the bun a little on the dry side (loose) so shrinkage will be kept to a minimum. Putting this plane together is just as finicky as getting the action right on an oud. It all depends on shop humidity, or rather consistency in the shop environment. I'm also not so finicky as to let a little check in the front bun bother me. I'm not building this plane to sell, and a potential cosmetic issue isn't going to affect performance. It's the rear infill that matters, and it's very stable.

I made a quick and dirty "bird's mouth" fixture for planing the sides of the rear infill. The perfect tool for fitting straight-sided infills is, ironically, an infill plane. And I had just the tool for the job.

A few deft strokes with my Brese small smoother and the rear infill was the perfect size, to the thousandths of an inch.

It slid in like a piston.

After getting the front bun close, within about 5 thou, I started shaping the profile. No hot-dogging here, I'm following Ron's design since it looks great and is comfortable in use. I wasted most of material with a core box bit and a round over bit. I'll further refine it with chisels, rasps and scraping/sanding after it's pinned to the body. I also went ahead and cut the escapement ramp and applied a coat of french polish to the ramp and the bed of the rear infill.

It's a good idea to finish these areas now, since it would be difficult once they are pinned in to the body.

This plane is shaping up...

Next step is to drill and install the aluminum dowels.


  1. Plane making is so humbling to me. It requires a machinists precision and you seem to have that down. That short video clips is beautiful enough to bring tears to my eyes. I can't wait to see this beaut in action.

  2. Thanks Shannon. I wish I had made the whole plane. Fitting the infills does take precision, but the real precise stuff needs to be in the body. And Ron Brese does a fantastic job. I can't wait to see this plane in action too! (I actually almost finished it this afternoon!)


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