Handplane. Just Handplane.

If you’re going to do this project READ all safety instructions on your tools and wear safety gear!!
Ok, so I wanted to go ahead and get this done start to finish on the new one instead of boring you with my lengthy glass-and-wait, glass-and-wait. I’m glad I did- and I’ve got some things I’ve learned I’d thought I’d share.
Of course, in Part III, I decided to change to wood for making this handplane instead of foam since the foam scrap was just way too coarse.
Turns out, poplar is very interesting to work with when putting resin on it directly. I did put a coat of West System ultra slow cure epoxy resin on, and found crazy dry patches plus parts where the wood grain stood up like little hairs even after having sanded it thoroughly before the resin. At this point, I wanted to put some changes in the shape anyway, so I got out the belt sander and the edge sander and put more prominent rounded rails on the front top edge, and put a much more pronounced concave out of the bottom, in the hope of giving it more lift.
I decided to re-coat the top side first. I put the board up on little wood blocks to allow the resin the drip over the sides.

Top Side Coated
Board on blocks

Ok, so the first coat did have some dry spots again, plus an unfortunate mosquito that landed in the resin. I did sand out bumps lightly with some 60 grit (plus the resin drippings on the bottom side), and sanded the rest with 120/220 to smooth out some of those “hairs” that popped up. The resin took 24 hours to dry (extra slow cure).

For the second coat, I thought I would be clever and put painter’s tape on the underside edge so I didn’t have to sand off all those bumps again.

Bottom side taped- resin bumps around the edge

It worked ok- but unfortunately, I did end up catching some tape into the resin, so I had to sand anyway. Duh.

Not as planned….

I did the bottom next just the same, two coats, sanding in between.

Bottom coated

For a final finish, I sanded out some of the bumps again lightly with 60 grit, then sanded all over with 120, 220, 320, and 400. The 320 and 400 I used water when I sanded (the sheets were wet/dry).
Once I finished sanding, I was ready to figure out how I was going to attach the hand strap. At first, I had wanted to drill holes, epoxy them, then drill in the epoxy to set screws into some webbing with an adjustable clip. I didn’t like the idea of drilling and epoxying since the poplar was a bit of a trouble to get the resin right.
Many of the handplanes I’ve seen have your hand slip onto the board flat. This seems a bit strange to me- I thought it might be better controlled by gripping the handle and allowing my forearm to steer the board. Ok, maybe that makes it a forearm plane. Either way, it’s an experiment, so we’ll see.
I picked up some 1″ brown flat nylon webbing to use for the handle. To make a more comfortable grip, my husband found some scrap 5/8″ braided hose tubing from our vacuum chamber project. I also gathered up a lighter (to singe the ends of the webbing so it won’t fray), and my E6000 glue, plus a threader to run the webbing through the tubing. I cut the tubing down a bit to the length I thought would be a good location on the board.

Getting the materials together
Threaded the nylon webbing through the tubing

Next, I cut the ends of the nylon webbing off to about 1/2″- 3/4″ past each end of the tubing and singed the ends. From there, I glued down each end with the E6000, gluing down not only on the bottom, but I also but glue on the top side, sort of sealing in the ends. E6000 takes about 24 hours to fully cure.

Handle glued down
How I’m planning on holding it

So anyway, here’s some more pics at different angles:

Back edge (pretty towel, huh??)
Bottom side
Top of board towards nose

Ok, so now’s the test. We’ve got some semi-windy mushy chop happening for today, so I may try it out this afternoon, since that’s the kind of typical local conditions I made it for. Will let you know if it works- and I come back WITH the board, hopefully.
Noon update:
So I went to South Cocoa Beach to try out the board, hoping to find not only a little bigger waves, but a good spot that may have a little more push. Took the trusty Churchill’s for my surf fins. The surf was messy and mushy, but I went anyway just as an experiment.
The board floated on it’s own, but was not floaty like a surfboard or bodyboard, where you can rely on it for some support. Essentially, it IS just an arm extension, but you’ve got to swim on your own. What’s great about this is, it’s the ONLY board I can duckdive! Getting under waves with the handplane is just like ducking under waves when ocean swimming, instead of wrestling the cooler lid I’m used to with the bodyboard. The handle on the board allowed me to hold on with both hands and just kick, but an adult man would probably just use one arm.

I came in a little to try some of the sand bombs that happened occasionally, and that was fun! The handplane allowed me to angle and added a lot of speed than when I just try to bodysurf alone. This does seem like a fun board for shorepound, without having to worry about popping up to get the 1/4 second ride.
I did use my forearms to keep the back of the board angled downwards in the water, with the nose barely out of the water, if at all. I did feel a lift from the board, but I don’t know if that was more the wave or board, so I’ll take it out in some different conditions, especially when my legs aren’t so weak.
So, the handle held fast, and I didn’t lose it. I’m happy. 🙂

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