Thursday, March 31, 2022

Ruminations about a Router Plane V-Cutter

The Millers Falls #67 router plane that I recently bought came with the 1/2" straight cutter as well as the 1/2" V-cutter (or spear-point).  I started thinking about the V-cutter and wondered if it has any utility at all.

Millers Falls (left) and Veritas 1/2" spear-point cutters

I've had the Veritas router plane for several years now and I got the 1/4" and 1/2" straight cutters, as well as the 1/2" V cutter.  I use the two straight cutters all the time, but I don't think I've ever used the V-cutter.

Because the bottom (flat side) of a router's iron must necessarily be at an angle to the work (the clearance angle), the front edge of the iron is the only part that touches uncut wood.

Front view of the M-F V-cutter.
This is what is presented to the wood.

On a spear-point cutter, the very tip of the cutter is the lowest point on the cutter.  As one moves away from the very tip along the cutting edges on either side, one gets higher above the tip because of the clearance angle of the iron.  For this reason, this type of cutter cannot cut a flat bottom in a dado.  It must cut a low angled V-shape into the wood.

"Head-on" view of Veritas V-cutter protruding through auxiliary base

The picture above might show this a bit better.  The arrow points to the leading tip of the V-cutter and the red line represents the surface of a piece of wood (or bottom of a dado) it's about to cut.  The very tip of the cutter contacts the wood and as the router is pushed forward (typically for cross-grain dadoes), the point will want to dive into the wood as it pulls up wood fibers to each side of center.

Veritas 1/2" straight cutter

The above picture shows a straight cutter doing its thing.  Some wood fibers get torn up at each side of the leading edge, but the surface that is left is far better than a V-cutter could possibly leave.

Bob (of the Valley Woodworker blog) commented recently that he finds the V-cutter to be very useful for cutting into tight corners.  I respect Bob's knowledge and experience, but I just don't get it.  Seems that if I've just cut a stopped dado and need to clean up the corners a little bit, I'm not going to change the router plane blade, set it to the exact right depth and clean out those corners: I'm going to get a chisel and my standard router plane iron and do it in one quarter of the time.

I did a little (very little) experimenting with the V-blade.  To get a reasonably smooth bottom to the dado, you need to sweep left and right as you go forward because the very point is the only portion of the blade doing any cutting.  Since almost all of the dadoes I cut are in the 1/2" to 7/8" width range, there's not a lot of room to be sweeping the cutter left and right.

Dado cut in poplar with the straight cutter

Above dado cut a little deeper with the V-cutter

The pictures might not show it too well, but the surface is a lot rougher after using the V-cutter.  And this is soft poplar.  I wonder how it would do in a harder wood.

Well, that's it.  Does anybody out there actually use their V-cutter?  If so, what are the circumstances where it comes in handy for you?

Thursday, March 24, 2022

A Comparison of Millers Falls and Veritas Router Plane Irons

After recently adding a Millers Falls #67 router plane to my kit, I looked at the differences between it and the Veritas router plane.  More specifically, I looked at the irons and the things that affect the iron function.

Millers Falls #67 on left, Veritas right

The first thing you notice is the difference in the angle from the shaft to the cutting portion.  On the Veritas it is approximately 5° and on the MF it's about 10°.

MF straight, Veritas straight, Veritas V cutter and MF V cutter
(bottoms of the irons are aligned with a horizontal line on the sheet of paper)

The next thing was the grinding angle of the straight cutters relative to their unbeveled flat faces.  This was about 38° on the MF (original or modified, who knows?) and 22-23° on the Veritas.  The shafts of the cutters are positioned vertically in both router planes.  This means that the angle that the cutting edge is presented to the wood is much steeper for the MF (~48°!) than the Veritas (~33°).

The next obvious thing is that the Veritas irons are a bit taller than the MF.  And there's a little less material above the adjustment slot on the Veritas (1/8" versus 1/4" for the MF).  These things combine to give the Veritas quite a bit more depth of cut.

About 5/8" max depth of cut for the MF (with 3/8" base attached)

Note that if the adjuster nut of the MF router is turned upside down, you lose almost 3/8" depth of cut.  At first I didn't know which was the intended orientation.  Pictures on the internet show both orientations.  But a sketch in an old ad on the Miller Falls Planes website showed the knurled larger part on bottom, and that makes sense given the depth of cut issue.

Adjustment nut in what I believe is normal orientation
(with scant 3/8" auxiliary base, gives 5/8" max cutting depth)

Adjuster nut inverted - gives almost 3/8" less depth of cut
(with 3/8" base, gives just over 1/4" max depth)

The Veritas has just over a 1" total depth of cut - even with the 1/2" auxiliary base.  But there is a catch.  It also has a stop collar for when you want the plane to stop cutting at a certain depth.

On the Veritas, the 3/8" tall stop collar is adjusted with the middle of 3 brass knurled nuts

With that stop collar not removed and the 1/2" auxiliary base installed, the depth of cut is limited to about 5/8".  Without those limitations, the Veritas can cut 1 1/2" deep!  The max without any impediments for the MF is about 15/16".

Not that that's a problem - when do we need to cut a housing that deep?  And if you do, it's probably larger and could be done with a chisel.

There is one other difference between the two that I wasn't even going to mention, but I'm sure I'd get taken to task about it.  The Veritas irons are two pieces: the bottom cutter portion can be removed for MUCH more easy sharpening.  That is a huge advantage, as we all know how awkward it can be to sharpen a standard router iron.

All for now.  Next time I'll present a rant about the "V", or spear point router plane cutters.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Millers Falls #67 Router Plane

I've thought for a long time that it would be nice to have a second router plane.  But I wanted to hold out until I found one in the wild.  At an estate sale recently, I spied a 1/2" router plane iron, but no router plane.  The guy running the sale said he let someone in early who took the plane.  I gave him the iron so it could be reunited with the plane it belonged to.  But he gave me the number of the buyer, who is a reseller, and might want to sell me the router.  Apparently he just buys stuff at estate sales and resells on eBay or elsewhere.  Long story short, I saw the buyer and bought the plane from him for more than I really wanted to spend - $80.  At least he threw in an old drawknife and a plane blade with it.  I went back to the estate sale to get the 1/2" iron.  And I combed the garage to see if there was a 1/4" iron or any attachments, but couldn't find any.

The router plane disassembled

It was a little dirty, but otherwise in great condition.  Clean-up consisted of a soak in simple green, a toothbrush to clean off old grunge, and some work with a wire wheel in a drill to clean off the hardware components.

All cleaned up

The iron locking mechanism in standard position ...

... or turned around to use with the iron outboard

This router plane has the "open throat" front and it came with a throat-closing attachment.  I don't know if I'll ever find a use for an open throat and will most likely just keep the attachment in place.  And even with that, I'll probably have an auxiliary base on it most of the time.  BTW, the foot of the attachment wasn't even close to parallel with the plane's sole.

I've read that the throat-closing attachment helps when working on thin edges like this

The sole had lots of original machining marks on it, so I worked it on sandpaper for a while.  This also helped get the foot of the throat-closing attachment closer to parallel.

After several passes on the sandpaper.
Note how the throat attachment is also getting flattened.

Complete with auxiliary base

When I sharpened the iron, I had to do some work to make the cutting edge parallel to the sole.  Then I took it for a spin.  It worked nicely - the depth adjustment feels a little different from the Veritas, but I think that will be easy to get used to.

First dado: sides sawn, most waste chopped out
and bottom leveled with the router

I was researching a little about this router plane, so I thought I'd add a little information about it and about Millers Falls.

On the Old Tool Heaven website, the #67 is described as an:

"Open-Throat Router.  Includes an attachment to close the throat for use on narrow surfaces.  Cutter can be reversed for bull nose work.  Earlier models shipped with 1/4" and 1/2" cutters.  Shipped with additional pointed cutter (1/2") and fence by 1949.

  • Early production - nickel plated frame (mine seems to be nickel plated)
  • Later production - frame is black enameled
  • By 1955 - frame is painted gray; hardwood handles are lacquered black"

Some good info on MF on the Collectors Weekly website here.

More to come about this plane: stay tuned.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

A Few Things from an Estate Sale

You never know what you might find at a garage or estate sale.  As it turns out, someone beat me to most of the woodworking stuff, but there's more to that story later.

Here's the initial take from the sale.

The initial haul

The bench screw was the first thing that caught my eye.  But the nut was nowhere to be found.  Turns out, the guy running the sale knew where it was still bolted to a bench, so I grabbed it.  It was 10 or 20 bucks.

It cleaned up fairly easily and looks to be in great condition

The only marking on the vise

I can't tell if that says OEM or GEM, or GBM or some combination of similar letters.  I don't have a need for it currently, but I know I will in a new shop that is someday in my future.

Next is a Nicholson rasp, from when they made them in the USA.  This thing was barely used!  It's very coarse, more so than I typically need, but I know it'll come in handy.  Cost a buck.

Made when they still cared about how they made them

Third was a dial indicator with articulating stand (certain there's a better term for the stand).  It was in its original box and seems barely used.  The stand has a switchable magnetic base. Twenty or 30 bucks.

Dial indicator with stand

The switchable magnetic base

This will come in handy for a number of things, but something I've wanted to be able to do is measure more accurately the amount of set on my saws.  I've used calipers to measure the total set (both sides), but with this I'll be able to measure set on one side of a saw plate.

Finally from the initial group, I found this old Charles Morrill saw set for a few bucks.

In grungy condition, but later cleaned up nicely

I'm going to do a separate post about this set - it's pretty interesting and works fine.

When I was there, I spotted something that really made my spidey senses tingle.

The iron at bottom was lying on a table in the garage (ignore the top one for now)

Most people reading this know what it is: a 1/2" straight cutting iron for a router plane.  My eyebrows raised about a half inch when I saw this and I grabbed it immediately.  But then I looked in vain for the plane that it belonged to.

The guy running the sale said the plane went away with someone early in the day.  Apparently some people get advance notice of estate sales and are allowed in a little early (arrgh!).  Being the concerned guy I am, I knew this iron had to be reunited with the plane - the guy knew how to get in touch with the new owner and would get it to him.

OK, silver lining: he said the guy who bought it is a reseller and might be willing to sell it to me.  I got the number and visited him the next day.  He had bought quite a number of things that he had little knowledge of.  Not only did I get the router plane, a Millers Falls #67 with the 1/2" spearhead iron, but he also threw in a drawknife and a very thick 1 1/2" wide, almost 1/4" thick plane blade (probably homemade) because he appreciated that I educated him about some of the tools he got.

Millers Falls #67 router plane

I paid $80 for it - wish it could have been less, but I'll take that.  I'll be writing more about this router plane in a week or two.

The drawknife was pretty badly pitted and the blade was bent and twisted, which is why he gave it to me.  I'll write more about it soon.

Drawknife in rough shape

After I picked up the router plane and drawknife, I stopped back at the estate sale to grab the 1/2" straight cutter.  While I was there I found a few other small things (at no charge) that I thought were interesting.

Tools for a brace and a few punches or nail sets

The largest from that group is this countersink which,
after sharpening, works great

I'd thought for a long time it would be nice to have a chuck on a square tapered shank.  This allows  small driver bits and round-shanked drill bits to be used with a brace.  And the countersink is a monster.

I haven't been to many garage / estate sales over the last couple years.  It's nice to start getting out to them again.  Like I said, you never know ...