View Full Version : finally finished my Shepherd Smoother

Dave Anderson NH
10-22-2003, 9:01 PM
As most of you know, Roger Myers and I drove up to the Shepherd Tool Neander Meander in Fergus Ontario (Canada) at the beginning of the month. We had 5 glorious days of fun, one day of which consisted of working on an infill handplane under the supervision of Doug and Ben. The folks who built shoulder planes were pretty much able to get almost through the job in a day, but the smoother takes a bit more time. In my case I was being VERY careful and I didn't care much about speed. I finally finished the plane on Sunday but decided not to take any pictures until the finish was cured and I had a chance to take a few shavings. So far I only planed a bit of poplar and some mahogany, but the results were Supercalifragilisticexpealedocious.

My original plan was to inlay a Gabon ebony diamond on the front handhold with a round bone center, but I felt it would be tarting the plane up a bit too much and the amount of space available was tight. I ended up putting in a 1/2" diameter piece of bone as the only adornment and it now seems a wise choice. I'm happy with the result and would like to thank Kevin French for the donation of the piece of bone.

Below are some pictures of the end result---Thanks Doug and Ben !!!!!!!!

Jeff Bishop
10-22-2003, 11:27 PM
Beautiful job on the plane Dave. I have been considering getting a kit myself and giving it a try. If I get up the courage to give it a try, I can only hope it turns out as nicely.

Ben Knebel
10-23-2003, 12:06 AM
Good job Dave--turned out very nicely--I like the little bone inlay.
What are you going to build at our next Meander---methinks you may be ready for a jointer :D

Martin Shupe
10-23-2003, 12:42 AM
Beautiful, Dave!

Perhaps, when you have time, you could describe the construction process. Is it hard, or could a newbie neanderthal do it? Any special tools or skills required? Are all the parts precut and just need final fitting?

It sure looks beautiful, but I am not sure I could tackle a project like that without someone watching over my shoulder.

Terry Quiram
10-23-2003, 8:12 AM

Job well done! I had a chance to try a friends smoother and was quite impressed. Yours is a real beauty. Nice touch resting on top of one of your mallets.


Tom Scott
10-23-2003, 8:53 AM
Beautiful Dave. I can't even see the joints...are you sure that wasn't one piece of steel?
I've been interested in trying this one of these days (when I have a little more time and skill), but they do seem a bit intimidating. I'm curious, how many hours do you think you spent from start to finish?

Nice work. Let us know how it performs. Oh, scrap that last comment. If it's like all the others I've read about, it performs superbly.


Matt Woodworth
10-23-2003, 10:54 AM
Great looking plane. I wish you had a website. I want to see more of your planes, the rest of your shop, etc. You could even write an article or two to help newer woodworkers.

Again, really nice work.

Dave Anderson NH
10-23-2003, 12:50 PM
In answer to a few of the questions people asked. The actual working time on the plane itself probably totaled 14 hours. This omits the time to make the simple wooden fixtures needed, the time for the urethane glue to cure, and the time for the finish to cure. My time estimate is higher than many other folks who have built the kit. I was far more concerned with accuracy and quality of work than with speed. I took a particularly long time in shaping-testing, shaping-testing, shaping-testing of the tote so that it fit my hand comfortably. I also spent a good bit of time polishing the iron, cap iron, and the bronze lever cap. This is time consuming but offers no added utility to the plane. A poorly finished but fully functional plane could have been produced in 8-10 hours of actual working time.

For those of us who aren't intuitive when it comes to working metal, several careful reads of the instructions are critical to avoiding unrecoverable error. Metal once removed can not be added back. Anyone who wants to build one of the kits should check out the Shepherd Tool website (www.shepherdtool.com) and read the comments and testimonials from actual builders. My only complaint is that the photos in my copy of the manual were too dark to be useful and Doug said he'd take care of that. To those who are interested in building one of the planes, I'd suggest starting on one of the shoulder planes which can truy be built in less than a day, but having said that, my first plane was this smoother. I can not overemphasize that a slow and steady approach leavened with a heavy dose of patience is the way to proceed. If you are an impatient individual you'd be better off not building a kit or alternately disciplining yourself to limit your work periods to an hour or less to force patience upon yourself. This is not a race, but rather an experience to be savored.

The only special tools are a couple of sizes of mill files, a hacksaw, a small steel plate to use as an anvil, and a ball peen hammer. A recommended tool is a stationary combo belt and disc sander. The sander saves a huge amount of time with a mill file.

Ed Marks
10-23-2003, 11:42 PM
Looks nice Dave. A fine addition to the collection and probably a fun tool to use as well. We'll have to talk sometime before you make a trip like that again. I might be interested.

So, what's the first thing you'll make using it?

Dave Anderson NH
10-24-2003, 8:01 AM
I don't know what my next woodworking project will be. Right now I have 840 sq ft of 3/4" x 3 1/4" wide prefinished red oak hardwood flooring sitting in boxes on my living room floor. This is perhaps one of the ultimate honeydoos and I expect it will keep me occupied for at least a full week. I have to rip out the carpet and all of those nail strips and the base moldings. I'm taking some vacation the week after next to get this job done. I ordered a nice set of gel filled knee pads from Duluth Tradiing to at least minimize the crippling of my back and knees.

Doug and Ben are already talking about having another Neander Meander sometime in the future. Hmmm, how am I gonna talk Sue into letting me go to that one too?

Lars Thomas
10-24-2003, 9:24 AM
Dave, as usual, beuatiful work. Nicely done. Lars

John Allman
10-24-2003, 9:34 PM
Gee Dave, you beat me. I expect to finish my smoother this weekend. The lapping of the sole is almost done, a little sanding, apply the finish, hone the blade and start taking those whisper thin shavings.

Dave and I were both building smoothers, most of the rest on the Meander built shoulder planes, and I think one of us built a chariot.

The smoother is my third Shepherd plane, (10% off if you buy three plane kits was just to tempting). My first was a 1.5" shoulder and the second was a chariot. These are good starting kits to warm up to the smoother for those of us who have never attempted building tools before.

I have the benefit of being within an hours drive of Shepherd Tools World Headquarters, and Ben has been very accommodating in letting me come in and work and get the benefit of his experience. There have been a couple of challenges along the way, but I will end up with a great tool, not to mention the wonderful memories and new friends from the Meander, plus the satisfaction in making my own planes.



Dave Anderson NH
10-24-2003, 10:47 PM
I cheated!! While You might have appeared to have been ahead of me while at Ben and Doug's, I had already completed all the work on the iron and the cap iron before I arrived. They were cleaned up, sharpened, and honed. I wanted to have the plane finished before my parents arrived today for their annual visit. I had some nice quality time this morning and early afternoon in the shop with my Dad. The real bonus was receiving some more tools from the family chest. Dad brought me a type 5 (1880-1885) Stanley #9 1/2 adjustable mouth block plane complete with a sidewall patched with a steel plate held in place by hand peened rivets. Obviously it had been dropped at some point in its life and the casting was missing a chunk on one side of the mouth. Per our Yankee heritage it was repaired and saw another 100 years of use. A Stanley two tone smoother like a #4 and a few files rounded out the haul. I was asked if I wanted the tool chest and if I was going to rent a Uhaul to get it when I visit them at the beginning of December. You only get one guess as to whatt my answer was.

Carl Eyman
10-25-2003, 8:37 AM
And up until now I thought "antidisestablishmentarianism" was the longest word in the english language! Learn something new from you every day, Dave. See you in January Carl

Ed Marks
10-25-2003, 11:04 AM
Doug and Ben are already talking about having another Neander Meander sometime in the future. Hmmm, how am I gonna talk Sue into letting me go to that one too?<br>

Point to the wonderful hardwood floor and :) Usually works for me.

Doug Evans
10-25-2003, 3:22 PM
It looks miles ahead of my first plane (Ben... stop laughing).

Oh yeah, Ed... The next Neander Meander will be a whole new game. One idea we are toying with is a lodge up on Lake Joseph at the time of the Port Carling Boat Show (Mahoghany multi-cockpit launches), a tour of Duke Boat Works, tool building, boating and fishing. We really want this to be a "spouses-are-dying-to-go" event. If you kow this area of the Muskoka's, then ytou know it will be something else.



Michael Stadulis
11-04-2003, 8:01 PM
Hi Dave,

Have you had a chnce yet to give us a truthful opinion of that new smoother? I recentlt fought off the urge to get a L-N 4 1/2 at the Philly Woodworks show.....just in case I changed my mind and wanted to get a Shepherd. I readily admit that my Primus and Bailey 3 work fine, so I don't really need one...but what the hell....variety is the spice of life


Dave Anderson NH
11-05-2003, 6:41 AM
I haven't really tested my Shepherd smoother other than the initial bit on the poplar and mahogany I reported on earlier. I've been tied up laying a hardwood floor over the complete first floor of the house. So far I have 5 days worth of ripping out carpet, padding, and tack strips and putting down the floor. I am sore in places I'd forgotten I had. The job should be finished this weekend and then the house can get back to normal after all the furniture is moved back into place. I also have to make a bunch of dump runs to get rid of all the demolition junk.

With a little bit of luck I might get some time to do some full plane testing and start on a shop project in a couple of weeks. This flooriing deal has earned me enormous credits with SWMBO which I will redeem in the future.