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Saturday, 25 September 2010

Quangsheng V2 Block Planes

Please click to enlarge

So what's the difference between the V1 and a V2 Quangsheng block planes?

The photo above shows the two side by side, V1 (left) had a fixed threaded rod with a solid brass nut that engaged a single through slot in the top of the cutting iron. V2 (right) has a screw that runs directly into the plane body, with a captive bracket that runs in a machined groove in the top of the pillar.

The new adjuster is smoother in use and has a finer thread pitch, so the cutting iron advances a shorter distance for each turn of the knob, giving more precise control over the depth of cut. It also has less tendancy to alter the lateral setting while altering the depth of cut. The bracket engages two out of 10 slots in the underside of the cutting iron - finer threads means less travel, which means you need more slots in order to use the full length of the blade.

Here's another photo showing the two threads:

Please click to enlarge

The Quangsheng V2 standard angle and low angle block planes are both supplied with a 25 degree and 38 degree cutting iron. The 25 degree blade gives a 37 degree pitch in the low angle for predominantly crossgrain and endgrain work. Although personally I don't find a huge difference from 45 to 37 I admit that it does make the tool a little easier to push through the cut. Install the 38 degree blade and you are up to 50 degrees (york pitch) for predominantly long grain work.

With the standard angle plane, the 25 degree iron gives you common pitch and the 38 degree blade takes you up to just a couple of degrees shy of cabinet pitch (60 degrees). I am very much convinced of the benefits of steeper pitches for working very hard timbers and interlocking grain.

We have also had 38 degree irons made for the V1 block planes for those that want them, as well as 50 degree irons for V2s that give 62 degree pitch in the low angle block and 70 in the standard angle. Although you are still technically planing at 70 degrees the tool functions more like a scraper plane - I'm sure that this option will be popular with instrument makers.

The rebating block plane is supplied with a 25 degree iron. As these tools are usually used more like a shoulder plane it seemed to be overkill to offer the irons in different pitches. Replacement 25 degree irons are available for both the V1 and V2 versions and steeper piches could be obtained by honing a secondary bevel.

The other tweek was changing the cap screw from flat to countersunk, which has helped to keep the cap in place whilst adjusting the iron and reduced the chance of the cap shifting in use - this modification did sneak into some of the newer V1s.

So that's it for the block planes, I'm happy that we have now got them pretty much to where I wanted them to be. I will try to get some toothed irons done though for both the block and the bench planes as I think this would expand their versatility even further.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Whilst researching the history of my W.B. Haigh chisel morticer I came across a copy of their 1872 catalogue on the University of Reading website - link here. This was also the year of President Grant's re-election, the great fire of Boston, Louis Bleriot's birth, Samuel Morse's death and the first FA Cup, won by Wanderers beating the Royal Engineers 1-0 at Kennington Oval before a crowd of 2000 spectators.

By nibbling the end off the URL I found my way into a fascinating and rather large repository of such catalogues here!

There are many things to tickle the interest of the casual observer in these publications, the language is fascinating - 'stuff' being commonly used for timber, 'Rabbiting' still apparently in common usage in England, before it gave way to 'rebates' and 'housings', only to be perpetuated in the US and reintroduced to the UK by Norm Abram - much to the disgruntlement of those of us who are used to rebates and housings!

The other thing to strike me was how similar these machines are in design to many of their modern day counterparts - and much more solidly made. Even though they only had belt drive or hand power, the design of many recognisable machines was devised by these guys and in most cases remains virtually unchanged.

In many ways I'm sorry to part with the morticer, it really is a beautifully made thing and I would have loved to restore it to concourse condition. An icon of that fleeting moment between hand chisel morticing and the arrival of the hollow chisel morticer. Nonetheless, the decision has been made and I'll just have to get used to the concept of being a bloke who used to own a W.B. Haigh chisel morticer - made in Oldham - by men in hats.

I now know how Mr Clarkson of Brierfield felt about his wall mounted spindle moulder when he wrote on October 26th 1877: "I beg to say that I like your "wall spindle" very well.....In fact, I should not like to be without it on any consideration".