Tool Notes - Low Angle Bevel Down Jack Plane

...or the 4 hours-long process of turning a piece of junk into a very nice tool.

LABD Jack Plane
- You say low, I say how low?
 - Dude, that's tight
 - Food for thought


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Ever since I put a 50 grit belt on my old 6"x48" belt sander, it turned into a metal hogging monster. It flattens chisel and plane iron backs, grinds bevels and sends nice bright orange sparks flying all around. It's my belt grinder and it's what made me believe I could make my own low angle Jack plane.

The main inspiration though came from an article boatmaker Bob Smalser wrote entitled " An Inexpensive 50-Degree Smoothing Plane". Smalser demonstrates how he turned a regular Stanley #4 1/2 into a nice high angle smoother. I wanted my own super smoother a few years back, and that's when I found the article. Problem is, there's quite a lot of metalworking and soldering involved which intimidated me and I eventually ended buying a Krenov style Hock iron and made a nice, raw-looking wooden 50-degrees smoother the Master would approve of.

Fast forward today, I'm really itching for a low angle Jack plane from Lee Valley/Veritas. I really need to cut back on tool expenses this year though and can't bring myself to pull the trigger. Besides, my Lee Valley shopping cart already holds a lot of stuff I need for my current woodworking projects. The price of the plane puts the order total well above what my buyer's remorse gland can live with. 

But... in 2009, life as a woodworker isn't easy without a Low Angle Jack... It's the woodworker's Blackberry. Everyone either has one or wants one. I've already got a Blackberry. Now I want my low angle Jack, damnit.

Here's what we started with : an incomplete recent vintage Stanley #5C with some rust. While dismantling it for no particular reason, I yanked the lateral adjuster and yoke off and put the frog on the belt sander to clean and flatten it. That's when I realized that such a small cast iron piece is very easy to work with. and the inspiration struck. I remembered the Bob Smalser article and how he had marked his 50 degrees angle on the side of the frog. I ground the sides of the frog to make it easier to mark and went to work.


You say low, I say how low? >>