Thursday, October 4, 2012

Veritas Skew Rabbit Plane Revisit

In my previous post I felt like I people would get the ideal I was pretty critical of this plane.  I really do like the plane but it takes some getting used to.  So I'll try and cover it in more detail.

First lets start with the iron.  Most folks I have seen sharpen a skew one of two ways;  Lee Valley Skew jig for the MKII sharpening system or they free hand it.  I bought the jig.  The jig makes the setup fairly fool proof.  I get the iron as sharp as I can.  When your dealing with planes that have to be registered on the work the last thing you want to do is to be trying to shove the plane through the wood.  You must take nice controlled strokes with this plane.

Skew Iron in the Lee Valley Jig
After putting the iron back in the plane it takes a little fettling to get everything lined back up.  This is the system i use.
  1. Put the iron in the plane and replace the cap iron.
  2. Tighten the cap iron knob a little so that it doesn't come loose while you do your adjusting as you will have the plane upside down a lot.
  3. Put the magnet on the side and make sure the edge of the iron lines up with lines up correctly with side of plane.
  4. Advance the iron until you can see it while sighting down the plane sole.  It needs to be level.  Once you get it level tighten the cap iron a bit to hold it in position.
  5. Break out a straight edge to make sure the knicker, plane iron and side of the plane are all in alignment.  Occasionally I need to move the iron over a bit.  For this i just a small hammer.  When everything is in alignment tighten the cap iron down to hold everything in alignment.  This shouldn't be super tight.  If you over tighten you won't be able to advance and retract the iron.
  6. Adjust your knicker blade depth if need be.
  7. Now just adjust the depth of cut, fence, and depth stop to the size of your rabbit and you should be ready to go.  I prefer to take light shaving.  Maybe 3 thou or so.  I'll take the extra strokes, it gives me more repeatable results.
Step 3:  Use the magnet to hold the iron in the correct adjustment with the plane side.  
Step 5:  Make sure knicker and iron are in alignment with the side of the plane.  This is where you can see if you have any problems.

Step 6 & 7:  Knicker is at a good working depth.  Can adjust the depth stop to the correct setting now.
Those 7 steps take me less than 5 minutes.  If you don't take the time to do those things, well, that is how "accidents" happen.  

Before we take this puppy for a spin lets keep mindful of a few things that can still mess up your rabbit.  This is where technique come into play.  There are two forces at work work here; keeping the plane registered the work (left hand), and pushing the plane forward (right hand).  

As with any plane we must be sure to you proper technique when pushing the plane.  At the beginning of the cut you must put more pressure holding the front of the plane down.  As you continue with the cut you should move the majority of your pressure to the back tote.  If you are experienced with bench planes this is nothing new to you.

The other issue we must be mindful of is keeping the plane firmly registered and not letting the plane tip from side to side.  I know from experience how easy this is to do, especially on narrow rabbits.  It just requires a little concentration.  If your taking to deep of a cut or have a dull iron can make this very difficult.

Note I'm not using the knob.  It makes the plane to top heavy in my opinion.  I put my thumb firmly on the plane body it is much easier to register.  Plus, I find that I get more feedback from the plane this way.

A nicely cut rabbit.

This is one of those things that takes an hour to describe and 10 minutes to do.  I easily sharpened the iron, fettled with the plane and cut the rabbit in less than 10 minutes.  The plane works great but its does take a little getting used to for a beginner.

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