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View Full Version : Sweating on a sole, or by some other means...



caveBob
07-20-2012, 08:58 PM
Hi guys, I might have an interesting challenge soon.

Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week... soon, the mailman should be delivering a nice package. It's a small magnesium bronze infill smoothing plane casting, but here's the catch: was warned that it will have small voids in the sole. My first thought is to screw it (thin O1 steel) to the sole (tapped holes in the sole, screwed together, then grind the heads down flat), maybe a very thin layer of J-B WELD between the bronze and steel too.

Doing a little research I ran across a process called "sweating on the sole", essentially soldering the bronze and steel together. Thinking this might be the most time-honored approach, but kinda scared of screwing up the bronze if I goof up. If you were to go this route, how would you do it? Mucho charcoal in a bbq? Any tips/experience/ideas out there?...

Thanks

Bill736
07-20-2012, 09:03 PM
I assume that this smoothing plane is a wood cutting plane. You might just ignore the imperfections. Many wood planes were made with longitudinal grooves in the soles, the theory being to reduce friction. Those long grooves might be thought of as simply giant imperfections.

oldtiffie
07-20-2012, 10:11 PM
+1

I'd either ignore them or if you must use a good "filler" - eg JB Weld - (carefully) and dress it off.

I can't see that any of those voids will affect the performance or functionality of the plane.

If it were mine I'd leave it "as is".

Duffy
07-20-2012, 10:39 PM
Since a plane sole is not suject to any seriously high temperatures, why not sweat the sole on using plain old 60/40 solder? Tin the sole first, (which MAY be a problem, but certainly doable.) Then set the tinned sole, well fluxed, on a steel plate over a burner on the kitchen stove. Place the plane casting on top, turn it on and wait. You might want to drill a couple of tiny holes for alignment pins, so that when you place a weight on the assembly to squeeze out any excess solder, everything does not go "sqew wif."

legendboy
07-21-2012, 12:01 AM
i would try and tig it with brazing rod

Tony Ennis
07-21-2012, 10:15 AM
I have a book by Jim Kingshott entitled, "Making and Modifying Woodworking Tools (http://www.amazon.com/Making-Modifying-Woodworking-Tools-Kingshott/dp/0946819327)." He describes at a high level sweating on a sole similar to what was described by Duffy. Kingshott also says to make the steel sole a bit oversize so you can file it to fit, and work as much of the mouth as you can in the steel sole before you solder it to the bronze. The order of operations is - cut steel sole, double-side tape to plane, put in 2 registration dowels (they should be a good fit - the sole and the pins need to be easy to remove; but the less slop the better.)

Regarding the sweating operation, Kingshott says:


The sweating procedure, adapted for putting a steel sole on to a nonferrous metal plane, is as follows: both the plate and the underside of the plane casting are first 'tinned' - the process of running a thin film of solder over the entire surface. The two tinned surfaces are placed together and the whole assembly is heated - if the plane casting is supported upside down on two fire bricks, a gas torch can be played underneath the assembly to heat it up. When the solder is seen to be free running, the steel sole will seem to float on the molten solder. The torch is then removed and pressure applied to the sole by two metal bars held in the hands...the secret of a well-made solder joint is that the solder line be kept very thin, the optimum thickness being .003in.

He also stresses all the parts have to be scrupulously clean; use a flux.

I recommend the book, though some have howled at some over-simplifications in it.

Gary Paine
07-21-2012, 12:13 PM
....I recommend the book, though some have howled at some over-simplifications in it.

+1 on the book. Very inspirational.

I've made a couple planes with sweated on soles and the process covered above was used. One had an adjustable throat, which is accomplished by the front sliding in guides and locked with a screw. In that case, the sweated part of the bottom was made bigger through the mouth area and machined flush all over when fitting the nose piece. I did my soft soldering on an old hot plate in the shop, and found that when the solder is hot, the two pieces slip around too easily without some form of registration.

I'd like to add that the old planes that needed the steel soles were made of a fairly soft brass and needed them for wear resistance, or sometimes a steel sole was added to salvage a heavily used and worn tool. I'd bet your magnesium bronze sole would outlast you without wearing out of truth enough to bother with.

dalee100
07-21-2012, 12:33 PM
Hi,

Why must the sole be sweated on? Couldn't an epoxy do as well in this case?

dalee

Mcgyver
07-21-2012, 02:26 PM
Doing a little research I ran across a process called "sweating on the sole", essentially soldering the bronze and steel together. Thinking this might be the most time-honored approach, but kinda scared of screwing up the bronze if I goof up. If you were to go this route, how would you do it? Mucho charcoal in a bbq? Any tips/experience/ideas out there?...


its super easy, its no more difficult than any other regular solder job, the tinning and sweating is just done so you get solder through a wide joint. Use regular solder (ie not silver or brazing) propane and a couple insulated fire bricks. Regular solders, ie plumbers solder, are low temp so you won't anneal things or risk melting the bronze (a real possibility with brazing). You coat each side with solder; flux, warm it up, apply solder. I brush the excess away with a paper towel - I like the solder thin on each side of joint. These tinned surfaces will easily let solder flow in everywhere when applied from the sides. Now put the two together, warm up and apply solder to the seam - will be wicked in and you'll get a perfect joint. I wouldn't apply much clamping, let the sold thickness vary rather than distort the pieces with clamps. The joint is so big there is not the remotest chance that sold solder isn't strong enough in this application.

have you a plan to get it flat afterward?

oldtiffie
07-21-2012, 08:12 PM
Originally Posted by Tony Ennis

....I recommend the book, though some have howled at some over-simplifications in it.

+1 on the book. Very inspirational.

I've made a couple planes with sweated on soles and the process covered above was used. One had an adjustable throat, which is accomplished by the front sliding in guides and locked with a screw. In that case, the sweated part of the bottom was made bigger through the mouth area and machined flush all over when fitting the nose piece. I did my soft soldering on an old hot plate in the shop, and found that when the solder is hot, the two pieces slip around too easily without some form of registration.

I'd like to add that the old planes that needed the steel soles were made of a fairly soft brass and needed them for wear resistance, or sometimes a steel sole was added to salvage a heavily used and worn tool. I'd bet your magnesium bronze sole would outlast you without wearing out of truth enough to bother with.

Given the advice of Gary Paine and his experience with (brass/bronze) planes with sweated-on soles - and I'd take it as gospel - other than "I want to do it anyway", I cannot see why the steel sole needs to be fitted at all as the plane base "as is" should give good service for years.

Further, if the manufacturer supplied it "ready to go/use" and with no recommendation for any modification then the steel plate would seem not to be justified or needed - so why do it?

But as its the OP's plane its his "call" as to what he does or doesn't do with the plane.

sasquatch
07-21-2012, 08:55 PM
Just my opinion, but i think it,s a great idea to sweat it on. Good learning experience, and a feeling of accomplishment.

Think about it,, most of us have done weirder things over the years!!:o

Mcostello
07-21-2012, 09:00 PM
Could always use bronze colored epoxy.

caveBob
07-21-2012, 11:27 PM
I really like this forum, wow thanks for all the responses! According to the PO online, it'll be here Monday. From what I understand, some of the voids may be as large as peppercorns so that's why I'm checking options now. Maybe sweating on a steel sole won't be necessary, but would be "cool" to do it if needs be.


I'd either ignore them or if you must use a good "filler" - eg JB Weld - (carefully) and dress it off.
I may...


Since a plane sole is not suject to any seriously high temperatures, why not sweat the sole on using plain old 60/40 solder? Tin the sole first, (which MAY be a problem, but certainly doable.) Then set the tinned sole, well fluxed, on a steel plate over a burner on the kitchen stove. Place the plane casting on top, turn it on and wait. You might want to drill a couple of tiny holes for alignment pins, so that when you place a weight on the assembly to squeeze out any excess solder, everything does not go "sqew wif."
Think my better half might pull what hair I have remaining if I mess with her stove... :) Good idea on the alignment pins, thanks.


I have a book by Jim Kingshott entitled, "Making and Modifying Woodworking Tools (http://www.amazon.com/Making-Modifying-Woodworking-Tools-Kingshott/dp/0946819327)." He describes at a high level sweating on a sole similar to what was described by Duffy. Kingshott also says to make the steel sole a bit oversize so you can file it to fit, and work as much of the mouth as you can in the steel sole before you solder it to the bronze. The order of operations is - cut steel sole, double-side tape to plane, put in 2 registration dowels (they should be a good fit - the sole and the pins need to be easy to remove; but the less slop the better.)

Regarding the sweating operation, Kingshott says:

He also stresses all the parts have to be scrupulously clean; use a flux.

I recommend the book, though some have howled at some over-simplifications in it.
Tony, thanks for the book info and link. Wouldn't you know it's not available on Prime. Bookmarked it.


+1 on the book. Very inspirational.

I've made a couple planes with sweated on soles and the process covered above was used. One had an adjustable throat, which is accomplished by the front sliding in guides and locked with a screw. In that case, the sweated part of the bottom was made bigger through the mouth area and machined flush all over when fitting the nose piece. I did my soft soldering on an old hot plate in the shop, and found that when the solder is hot, the two pieces slip around too easily without some form of registration.

I'd like to add that the old planes that needed the steel soles were made of a fairly soft brass and needed them for wear resistance, or sometimes a steel sole was added to salvage a heavily used and worn tool. I'd bet your magnesium bronze sole would outlast you without wearing out of truth enough to bother with.
Gary, don't suppose you have a pic or ten of your planes handy? Would love to see how you handled your adjustable throat. What type of steel did you end up using? Bet you're right about not wearing out the bronze.


its super easy, its no more difficult than any other regular solder job, the tinning and sweating is just done so you get solder through a wide joint. Use regular solder (ie not silver or brazing) propane and a couple insulated fire bricks. Regular solders, ie plumbers solder, are low temp so you won't anneal things or risk melting the bronze (a real possibility with brazing). You coat each side with solder; flux, warm it up, apply solder. I brush the excess away with a paper towel - I like the solder thin on each side of joint. These tinned surfaces will easily let solder flow in everywhere when applied from the sides. Now put the two together, warm up and apply solder to the seam - will be wicked in and you'll get a perfect joint. I wouldn't apply much clamping, let the sold thickness vary rather than distort the pieces with clamps. The joint is so big there is not the remotest chance that sold solder isn't strong enough in this application.

have you a plan to get it flat afterward?
Mcgyver, thanks for the details, give me a little more confidence if I move forward with this. plan to get it flat afterward? - Prolly get chided for thinking it but... working through the grits on a surface plate, or diamond paste on a cast iron substrate. What did you do? (I don't have a milling machine)


Given the advice of Gary Paine and his experience with (brass/bronze) planes with sweated-on soles - and I'd take it as gospel - other than "I want to do it anyway", I cannot see why the steel sole needs to be fitted at all as the plane base "as is" should give good service for years.

Further, if the manufacturer supplied it "ready to go/use" and with no recommendation for any modification then the steel plate would seem not to be justified or needed - so why do it?

But as its the OP's plane its his "call" as to what he does or doesn't do with the plane.
oldtiffie, I'm thinking you may not like this "sweating on" plan... :) Seriously, I hear you, you make perfect sense... but... I have never done this before, curious... Actually, it was more like an "as is" kinda deal... appreciate your concern and input sir.

oldtiffie
07-21-2012, 11:38 PM
oldtiffie, I'm thinking you may not like this "sweating on" plan... Seriously, I hear you, you make perfect sense... but... I have never done this before, curious... Actually, it was more like an "as is" kinda deal... appreciate your concern and input sir.

Bob,

what I think or like - or not - is of no consequence here as its your call.

Best of luck

Gary Paine
07-22-2012, 08:20 PM
Gary, don't suppose you have a pic or ten of your planes handy? Would love to see how you handled your adjustable throat. What type of steel did you end up using? Bet you're right about not wearing out the bronze.

http://i1117.photobucket.com/albums/k595/gppaine/Chariot2.jpg

http://i1117.photobucket.com/albums/k595/gppaine/Chariotplane.jpg


I made it several years ago, but Iím pretty sure I used a piece of an old handsaw blade for the thin sole behind the mouth. The movable front sole plate needed to be thicker, of course, to accept threads for the adjusting screws and guides.

These little chariot planes are a good fit in the palm of the hand with the forefinger on the nose. The hand fills up with the curled up shaving, though, so the shavings need shook out every couple strokes.

I almost never readjust the mouth width, and keep it just wide enough to pass a thin shaving.

If I redid this plane today, I would put a radius cut at the inside of the nose to rest my finger on for more comfort and round the corners much more so it slipped in and out of my shop apron pocket better.

boslab
07-22-2012, 08:29 PM
try solder paste, paint and heat, job done
mark

Tony Ennis
07-22-2012, 10:45 PM
If I were going to flatten the sole, I'd probably use wet/dry sandpaper glued to a sheet of glass. Paint the sole with a marker and take deliberate strokes until enough of the marker is gone.

caveBob
07-22-2012, 11:40 PM
Thanks for the pics and info Gary. Nice job on your plane, even took the time to make a cupid bow bridge... sweet.