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Cutting the Teeth

Cutting the Teeth on the End Float

Now I'm ready to start cutting the teeth on the end float.  The profile I'm using is basically the same as a rip tooth saw, about 9 teeth per inch, with one 90 degree face on a 60 degree tooth - the profile is basically the same as the image below that shows a two teeth per inch profile (I 'borrowed' this image from - it's a great site, lots of info and some great stuff for sale too, I hope they don't mind me doing so):

Discussions with fellow woodworkers and other sources I've seen and read say that the number of teeth should vary a bit to prevent the float from chattering.  Perfectly evenly spaced teeth promote this problem.  This isn't a big issue here, because I'll be cutting these teeth by hand, which alone should provide enough randomness to avoid the problem.  At least with my work, anyway.  You might even say I was a bit overly deliberate in my randomness.  But then again, I'd say that too - but this isn't rocket science, is it?  Or is it?

First, if the dye has worn off, you should put another coat on here to help guide your cuts.  Something of help here that I've learned from re-toothing old handsaws when I don't have the existing teeth to re-cut the new teeth - I use a cad program and print out a set of lines at the proper teeth per inch and mount it into the vise along with the saw (or float blank in this case).  It also give me a set of lines to help guide the file perpendicular to the blank with.  Also, I start the cut by cutting a small groove with the hacksaw - its easier to line a hacksaw up to the line, and gives the file a small groove to ride in when you start your cut:

Then, its on to the big job: filing the teeth.  The object is to file until the blue of the dye just disappears and a sharp tooth is formed, just like sharpening a rip saw you've just jointed (I used a 6" slim taper saw file for all of the filing of the teeth):

For this job, I found it easiest to jam the ends of the file into 2 scraps of wood, giving me better control of the entire cut and allowing me to grab both ends of the file.

Here is a diagram of the stages of cutting the teeth, to see if I can make it a bit clearer about what I mean when I say "the dye just disappears":

Cutting the Teeth on the Side Float

Its just about the same process for the side float, with a few significant differences - especially because of the face being filed, you can't mount it in the vise, so you have to make your own 'holder'.  First, I printed out a page with markings similar to above, then drove some nails beside the float into a scrap piece of pine below the blank.  You need this scrap to hold the blank high enough above the bench to allow you to file it.  I used nails long enough to drive into the bench below to hold it in place, then bent the nails over to hold the blank.  When far enough along, the nails that are in the way of filing are pulled out and new ones placed where the work is finished.  Then a hacksaw is used in the same manner as above to start the cut of the teeth:

When that is complete, the really, really big job of filing begins, filing just until the last of the dye on the front of the tooth disappears from under your file.  I worked from the point towards the tang, as most of the cutting is done on the forward portion of the tooth, and it would be easy to file too far into the next tooth if I was going the other way, screwing up that tooth.  Your mileage may vary.

This one is more difficult than the previous filing job, obviously.  You need to file to an even depth across the width of the float, and this is more difficult as the float widens.  The good thing is you only need about 5-1/2" of teeth, as this is about as deep as you'll need for most planes.  I went 6" to be sure, but the last several teeth were getting quite testing on my patience.