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Thread: Help with D'Angelico plane

  1. #1

    Default Help with D'Angelico plane

    I am an experienced woodworker but a first-time luthier. I am working on my first-ever instrument build, an F-style mandolin with a spruce front and maple back. I am following Siminoff's book, "Constructing A Bluegrass Mandolin: A Complete Technical Guide." To carve the two plates, I was looking for a single tool that was durable, simple to use and would last years. After consulting a couple of professional luthiers, I went with the small (10mm, I believe) D'Angelico plane sold by LMI. I also ordered a spare iron. The irons, made by Hock, seem very high quality.

    The tool showed up yesterday. As with every plane I ever owned, the first thing I did was remove the iron and polish the back of the iron to ensure it is absolutely flat. Next, I took the iron to my set of three progressive diamond sharpening plates (coarse, medium and fine) and sharpened the iron bevel, careful to maintain the rounded bevel that works so well with the plane's convex sole. Admittedly, I did all of this by hand. However, I examined the bevel along the way and was confident I was maintaining the bevel properly. Finally, I stropped the iron on my usual leather strop with honing compound applied.

    I placed the iron back in the little plane, bevel up (the way it arrived) and I picked up a scrap to test it on. This wasn't just any scrap--it was a back plate that I had cut out on the bandsaw already but had a number of defects. (I should note here that for budgetary reasons and because this is my first mandolin I am not using an extremely fancy species of maple. I am using typical "hard" maple that happens to have a bit of curl to it.) I took a few test passes with the little D'Angelico plane and noticed a bit of chatter and tearout. So I loosened the plane's set screw, pulled the iron a bit back in to the plane to be less aggressive. A few more passes and the plane got caught up and tore out more wood. I went through this a couple of times until the iron was pulled so far back in the plane that it wasn't making contact with the wood.

    I thought perhaps I had sharpened the iron improperly. So I took it out and went back to the diamond plates, going through my whole sharpening process once more. When it was done, I tried it on the maple back plate again. Once again, I got no actual shavings like with a typical plane. Instead I just tore out a few hunks of wood and scared the maple.

    I switched out the maple with a piece of scrap spruce. And while the results were improved (due to the softer species of wood, presumably) I was not getting the kind of shavings that I am used to from any other plane.

    What am I doing wrong? Are these irons not meant to be sharpened as other plane irons are? Could this possible be caused by my technique? It's a simple enough tool but I realize some tools have nuances around their use. I'm just not sure what else could be causing these problems.

    Thanks for any help you can offer.
    Mark

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    What is the grit of your finest diamond plate? When you finish sharpening before you put the blade back into the plane can you shave the hair off your arm? The tools you use for lutherie need to be much sharper than tools for typical carpentery. I use water stones for a finished edge and go to 6000-8000 grit depending on how energetic I am at the time or what I need the tool for. Diamond plates are only for the rough sharpening for me.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    I have the DMT 8" diamond plates in Coarse, Fine and Extra Fine. Not sure what the corresponding grits are there. I use these for sharpening all of my chisels and plane irons. And then I finish with a leather strop and honing compound.

  4. #4
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    I bought one of those years ago with high expectations but soon discovered it was the worst arching plane I have ever used. I put it a drawer over twenty years ago and haven't used it since. I think it is a design flaw. My Ibex planes work much better.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  5. #5

    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    I bought one of those years ago with high expectations but soon discovered it was the worst arching plane I have ever used. I put it a drawer over twenty years ago and haven't used it since. I think it is a design flaw. My Ibex planes work much better.
    Charley, is there an Ibex plane that is large enough for shaping whole plates? I got the impression from what I have read that they are really for detail work. Thanks.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    My experience with that same plane is the same as Charles E. I wound up reshaping the entire sole of the plane and it is now a pretty good tool. The way it was shaped originally forced me to arch my wrist in an awkward and painful way to use it. Flattening the sole helped that a lot. It's still not as comfortable to use as my time-tested finger planes, but it is helpful when roughing out a top. LMI claimed that they "improved on " D'Angelico's original model, but I promise you D'Angelico's original had to be better than this.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    Quote Originally Posted by Ward Elliott View Post
    My experience with that same plane is the same as Charles E. I wound up reshaping the entire sole of the plane and it is now a pretty good tool. The way it was shaped originally forced me to arch my wrist in an awkward and painful way to use it. Flattening the sole helped that a lot. It's still not as comfortable to use as my time-tested finger planes, but it is helpful when roughing out a top. LMI claimed that they "improved on " D'Angelico's original model, but I promise you D'Angelico's original had to be better than this.
    Thanks, Ward. Any chance you could post a pick of your improved D'Angelico's sole so I'd know what to replicate?

  8. #8
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    Here is a visual of the different sizes......

    https://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tool...kaAjemEALw_wcB

    The 47mm and 36mm I use the most for arching.

    I am not endorsing Stew Mac (although they are a fine company) just wanted to show the different sizes.

    There are probably many threads about arching planes in the forum and recommendations for less expensive ones.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  9. #9
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    ...."I promise you D'Angelico's original had to be better than this"....

    Well....I've had the original in my hands and don't agree with this.

    I too have owned both of the LMI planes and found that the angle is not to my liking and they don't necessarily fit my hands well. All hand tools are a compromise where we adapt to someone else's ideal and physical uses and body proportions. Aside from a couple made by Christopher Laarman, my favorite and the one I reach for most often is an Ibex that I added my own handle to. It has been my go to for over 20 years.

    j.
    www.condino.com
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  11. #10

    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    I have much, much less experience than others here, but I have been happy with my D’angelico. It’s the only arched-sole plane I have, and I have not tried the Ibex. Unlike the way you described yours, though, I have the bevel DOWN in my plane. The adjustment is a little fussy, but once it’s set up it works well in all kinds of hardwoods, including curly maple.

    I’ve done most of my rough arching with big gouges; I only use the D’angelico plane to smooth out the gouge marks and to make finer adjustments to arches and graduations. Once that’s done I spend lots of time with scrapers.

  12. #11
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    I have a couple of the Ibex planes, they work well for me. I strop the blades rather frequently. The toothed blades work well on figured maple for fast material removal.
    -Dave
    Flatiron A
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  14. #12
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    My first impression was that bevel shoul be down as well. Unless something is horribly wrong it should work. Like most planes it will need some setup and training but it should work at least OK. Perhaps some of the other brands may work a bit better but novice would not see that much difference. Other thing is that you want to cut across the grain on curly maple. Going with the grain with plane with wide gap in mouth (like most thumbplanes) will tear the wood badly.
    Adrian

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    Default Re: Help with D'Angelico plane

    As a first-time builder, let me put in a plug for the Stanley No. 100-1/2 Block Plane, which is 3 1/2 in long with a squirrel tail and curved sole. So far I have carved a mandolin top out of softwood and a back out of a re-purposed maple cutting board for practice, and the Stanley was exceptional. The squirrel tail was easy on my hands, and it cut efficiently. I finished the surfaces with a sanding disc attached to a drill press.

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