Sunday, March 6, 2016


Though this has been a mild winter, lacking the sub-zero bone shattering deep freeze and waist deep impassable snows of a typical Northern Ohio winter, I've had very little opportunity or desire to get out to the shop. Other pursuits have drawn me along and every day with a toddler just gets more interesting.

 I did finally get some work done on the kerfing plane, a couple coats of finish on the days that were warmer, and a vast amount of sanding and chamfering to the brass parts

Just the end caps and final finishing to go, and to do that I have to decide on the length of the arms.

Some time in January a whopper of a plane arrived. The new Bride City Tool Works HP-9 Dual Angle Block Plane, well worth the wait

I really needed another block plane like I needed another hole in my head but this one just called out to me, and it is exquisite.

The fine blend of materials, textures, and shapes draws your eye to the plane in a way I just can't describe, like a tiny little clock-work machine. Hugely intricate and seemingly delicate
Upon lifting it up I realize it has heft, that stainless steel sole desires nothing more than to hug the material you apply it to. I don't feel as much like I'm going to break it as I first did on taking it out of the box.

But it's big, really big, the one-handed grip is a good inch longer than my LN

bigger than my already too big Veritas

big enough I have to use it two-handed.
This mass really helps it power through a thin shaving of tricky maple, like a small smoother.

And it's fiddly; the Noris style adjuster has a very short arm between the knob and the pivot, causing it to be jumpy and not easy to adjust finely and smoothly, and I find as I adjust the depth my lateral adjustment is affected.  So I keep a wooden tipped plane hammer handy at all times.

The adjustable mouth suffers a similar lack of finesse, between the two I've whacked the iron several times and fear I will have to hone a ding out before I can even take a shaving.

Removing the iron is nothing short of an experience, lift the lever cap and a series of mechanisms interplay and the cap iron rises magically and insect-like from within the tool.

Cool idea to do two different attack angels, but I fear crippling injury should the magnetic blade guard come loose while honing.

Reassembling this plane is like juggling three feral cats, the planets must align, you must sacrifice a small animal on the front lawn and a series of ancient and mystical incantations must be chanted with the right emphasis in order to get all these parts to come together correctly. That or I need a little more practice. Or a tool.

hence bear witness to the birth of "The Extractor"

Along the vein of "The Plane Pickerouter" I developed to deliver the Heimlich to the HP-6 V1

So all said and done, it is an incredible addition to my collection, dazzling and jewel-like, not prone to surface rust or patina, but like many late model Bridge City tools, cantankerous, finicky, and designed leaning a bit more toward the aesthetic than the functional. As much as I love these tools for their unique vision, innovation and niche utility they each have a quirk that must be adapted to. It's part of the charm of this whole borderline-bespoke-tools movement.

 next: we'll experiment and see how well I faire in making a beautiful functional tool