How to Build an Infill Mitre Plane
How to Build an Infill Mitre Plane pt3 by Bruce Neville
Format: A4 in full colour.
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Once again, I have been privileged to have had the opportunity of an advanced read of the third book in the “How to build an infill Plane” series written by Bruce Neville.
And what a delight it is to see. Bruce takes and guides the builder another logical progressive step forward in the plane building craft with his version of the Mathison improved mitre plane. Most of us know what a wonderful design concept this plane is. But if you don’t it is considered by many to be the ultimate design concept of all hand dovetailed mitre planes. Originals command eye watering prices. I have seen many change hands among discerning collectors for sums that could easily buy a family car.
In his book, Bruce has given the builder all he needs to know to guide his journey to replicate a very nice version of his own that shares the pedigree and design concepts of this iconic plane.
It’s a step up in skill levels to produce this little beauty, but it’s well worth the effort. Those who have completed the projects in the first two books should comfortably handle body and slightly more challenging three-dimensional infills. The big skill step up that Bruce has introduced the builder to is the challenge of a modest amount of engineering. This is required to produce the delightfully designed adjuster mechanism. However, all is not lost should this last progressive step be achievable by some of us due to not having access to a small engineering lathe.
The plane is still a fine project, omitting the adjustment mechanism if necessary. In fact, the first one Bruce made was just that. A similar build without the adjuster and it performed and looked fantastic. Another option would be to have your local machine shop take the excellent plans for the adjuster and have one made up.
It would not be prohibitively expensive considering the lovely plane you would end up with. I have also seen a few hobby machinists list Norris style adjusters on auction sites. I am sure one of these could be cobbled into service as an alternative to lathework
I am pleased to see this volume shares the excellent print quality as the other two volumes. As we now come to expect, it is also packed with an abundance of great quality photographs. Not surprising as Bruce is a professional photographer.
It’s a great book that I fully endorse for those who wish to keep the art of plane making alive and achievable by all. It is a delicious step-up skill challenge from the other two volumes, but manageable and a logical skill progression from volume one and two.
The opportunity is also still there to build a great non adjuster version that could easily be upgraded later if machining is not an option. It’s also a great read even for those who will never build such a project but would love to see how the impossible task to most can be done by one man with modest skills and workshop.
These small run specialist books are often by necessity limited in print or photographic quality. These volumes are not. The strong quality stock paper selection reproduces the photographs in crisp high definition. They will also easily stand up to the rough rigors of handling in the workshop with super strong bindings.
As a maker of many handmade infill planes myself , I can tell you my first half dozen were strewn with disappointment and challenges. The builder blessed with the information contained in these three volumes will avoid the pain of a very steep learning curve.
It’s sad to see a lot of the few successful builders in this craft hoard knowledge without sharing. It’s a great credit to Bruce for taking the time and effort to produce these knowledgeable volumes for all to see the black art of the craft revealed. I think most builders with modest skills and workshops have a very good chance of success following them. It is probably the only chance most of us could ever own an improved mitre that shares the design pedigree of an original Mathison, Spiers or Norris without breaking the bank.