Don’t be fooled by Chris Fitch’s down-home demeanor. His designs are as sophisticated as they need to be. And he’s smart enough to know that if he likes it, chances are the reader will too.
The Dovetailed Shoulder Plane is perfect proof of that. As Chris mentioned last night, this plane was designed for the plane "builder." I think there’ll be quite a few people out there giving it a try when the next issue of ShopNotes arrives, including myself.
The article (written by Woodsmith/ShopNotes assistant editor Randy Maxey) does a great job of explaining how the "double" dovetails connecting the sides and sole of the plane are completed. According to Randy, building it is "…easier than you think." Which is true to a certain extent. If you can make hand-cut dovetails in wood, chances are you can do it in metal. The principle is the same, although the techniques are slightly different. Instead of a dovetail saw and chisel, you’ll need a good set of files for the metal plane body.
The plane looks like a good summer project. One you can work on at your leisure and put aside when there’s more important things to do. By the way, I appreciate the use of "alternative" materials in some of the projects shown in ShopNotes, Woodsmith, and Workbench magazines these days.
I looked online for general information on furniture standards and specifications, but didn’t find much. The book that was mentioned last night is titled "Pocket Ref" by Thomas J. Glover. It does have a lot of construction specifications, but nothing on furniture that I could find. I agree with the one comment about looking at the furniture around you for ideas on what size to make something. You can also use cues from nature for what is pleasing to the eye and what is not. This is basically what the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Numbers (isn’t this a timely discussion, what with "The DaVinci Code" just hitting theaters!) are all about. There is a lot of good information online, including this site: GoldenNumber.net.
Finally, I’ll be taking off for North Carolina early Thursday morning next week. Check back often and I’ll keep you updated on the progress I’m making in the Ladderback chair-making class.