Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CNC Handplane

Didn’t Thomas Edison discover a 1000 different ways NOT to make a light bulb? I figured I have 999 more attempts to make a hand plane with my CNC before I start getting discouraged, by that measure.

My plans are to make a wooden hand plane with my CNC router. My plan is to cut a few prototype bodies just to make sure I have all my toolpaths ‘dialed in’ where they should be. This phase will also tell me if my equipment is up to snuff. (I already learned that I will probably need to get some longer mills. Maybe 4 inchers)

I also need to make a consistent method for attaching the blank and then being able to machine the entire outside and inside of the body. I devised a plate made from MDB (in the picture) with T-nuts. I then drill the blank slightly long, counter bore the holes to take 1/4-20 hex screws of varying lengths, depending on the piece. This part is working pretty good so far.

Now, the first body is probably not even a good shape for a plane but this was about getting the equipment performing the way I expect. That piece is nearly 8 inches long (not including the hold downs). Everything started pretty good. I used a 1/2 inch end mill for the first roughing pass. I had planned a 1/4 inch end mill for a 2nd roughing pass but opted against it. This is where I made the mistake. As I was running a relief cut with a 1/4 inch ball nose, I ‘dragged’ the bit and lost a few ‘steps’. This cause my X axis reference to be off. This is evident by the ‘stair-steps’ inside the pocket (they should have been removed) and the ridges on one end. Regardless – This is failure #1 and it provided some valuable lessons for me. As long as I make progress, I don’t mind messing up. This is gonna be fun!

P.S. Once I get my workflow and equipment dialed in, would anyone be interested in doing some trading of services? I’m offering some CNC services for plane iron. (Preferably, if you can make your own and they are thick). I could probably cut saw handle blanks really easily. Jig templates, etc. Name it. (As long as its smaller than 12X20. :)

Thanks guys!

Here are some pictures

1/2 inch end mill – 1st roughing pass

Failure #1 in all its glory!

by Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

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