Hand Tools Archive

Pair of New Bow Making Planes... *LINK* *PIC*

John Aniano in Central NJ
Hello All,

With Oskar's recent foray into making spokeshaves, I thought I'd show a pair of purchased/modified 316 stainless steel planes I recently acquired.

When I saw these at a trade show last month I realized the planes were high on the Cute Factor Scale, but I thought I could raise the CFS even more, so I modified them a bit to suit my needs.

The firm that made the bodies is CAG, based, I think in Germany. The pair were just over $100. The firm's website address is below - be sure to check out the link for the short video showing how they design and investment cast the plane bodies!

Although the planes are designed for bevel down use for the maple and spruce used for violin making, for making bows, I prefer a bevel up plane with a total angle of nearly 80 degrees. I also thought I would like thicker blades. And I prefer wedges over the screw cap blade hold-down devices.

I made new, slightly tapered blades from old pillar files, softening them first in our fireplace overnight to anneal them and then cutting and filing them to fit the plane bodies. The small blade is 6mm wide and the "larger" is 8mm wide. From the cutting edge back, the blades taper around 0.2mm in thickness over their length of just over 25mm long. I then hardened by heating with a propane torch and quenching in water and tempered them with an alcohol lamp to reach the light straw color. Flattened them with diamond stones and ground the working bevels with my Tormek. The ~40 degree bevels were sharpened with a soft Arkansas stone. Bevel angles this high allow me to plane/scrape the hard wood used for making bows.

The wedges are made of ivory, yes, the politically incorrect ivory. I bought the stuff legally in 1982, but I can't legally sell a bow with the material, so, I instead make stuff I personally will use, such as these little plane wedges. I've even made a small bevel gage and a 90/45 degree square out of the stuff. The bevel gage is about 2" long when closed.

The wedges were filed to fit and the decorative shape was cut using a coarse needle file and smoothed to 1000 grit and polished with a strop and "Paris Blue" polishing compound.

I've used these two new tools to plane the facets and round the sticks for two recent viola bows made of unfigured snakewood and they worked quite well.

And I think I succeeded in adding a few additional points on the Cute Factor Scale!


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