Handplane or Handboard? Part III

Ok, when something just isn’t working, it isn’t working. I was NOT happy with the way the foam handplane shape was coming out- I think the 1.5 pound was way too coarse, and I was trying to do something with it that just wasn’t going to happen.
So, let’s start over again. This time, I picked up a scrap of poplar from Home Depot for a buck. It’s 1/2″, about 16″ by 12″.

Poplar piece

Once again, I made a template, but more in line with pictures I had seen of wood handplanes (thanks Wavegeek!). So here’s the next attempt at an outline, and the result I cut out on a scroll saw:

Outline for handplane
Piece cut out

I did sand a little concave into the bottom with a rotary sander, but nothing extraordinary. I curved the rails by hand sanding, but for the most part they’re straight, so we’ll see how that goes. I used 60 grit mostly, then 80 and 100, proceeding up to 220 to finish.
I decided to glass this board with some of my slow cure epoxy:

Preparing to glass
First side glassed, not cured yet

So, it’ll take a couple of days to get this glassed and cured. I did mount the board on a couple of scrap pieces of wood to let the epoxy drip without sticking.
For the handslip, I’m going to drill shallow holes into the deck, fill them with epoxy, redrill and screw the strap down on either end- but I’m going to put in one of my adjustable plastic buckles so more than one person can use it. I’m also going to use on of the fin heel guards I made from a past project to overlay the strap so it doesn’t tear up my hand.
Something I haven’t seen is grip on the deck for your hand…..hmmm…still got some SeaDek around here somewhere…..

Handplane or Handboard? Part II

So, after hacking away at my handplane shape in Part I, I’m ready to start putting a little shape into this foam.

The basic shape I started with

I started off with 50 grit sandpaper and sanded the edges smooth. Except they didn’t come out as smooth as I thought they would. The foam was rather coarse, so one side would sand well, but the other seemed the slough off easily, which made for a real challenge shaping, especially on this scale (approximately 1 foot square).
I used a sanding block to scrape the bottom, then smooth out where I didn’t quite hit the lines with my initial cut. I went up to 60 grit and really found no difference in the sanding quality, so I stayed with the 60 grit.
Honestly, I eyeballed much of this project. I don’t have shaper’s calipers, just my “calibrated” eyeball. I tried to put some even curves on the rails, and prevent them from being too squared off. I didn’t think too much “hold” was necessary, in fact, I thought the ability to turn would be much more handy.
I also thought that when I block sanded the top and nose, I could sand better by using double stick tape to secure the foam to my working table. Wrong. Although I was happy with the way the nose was coming out, when I carefully lifted the foam off of the table, two little chunks of foam stayed with the tape. Whoops. Luckily, they make a fix for that. Spackle.
Anyway, as I was shaping I decided to make a little well on the deck of the board on the fly that my hand (actually, for me, hands) could rest in below the rails. Here’s some rough shaping I did on the deck:

Rough handwell on the deck

I tried not to get into over shaping, which I can really appreciate now with working with foam.
I did shape my channels into the bottom, as well as putting a little curve into the bottom outline. Here’s the final rough shape- I think:

Top of handplane
Bottom of handplane

Now, I need to apply some spackle to even things out before I glass it. This process feels like icing a cake, but I’m no Pastry Chef. The result was messy, but I was hoping it would even out with some sanding. And maybe a little paint later on. Ok, maybe a lot.
After letting the spackle dry, I tried to sand it smooth, but it just wasn’t happening. I thought that I was hoping for too much out of this coarse foam on this small scale. After I sanded, I put some spackle on little places where it still seemed a bit imperfect.
I think I’m going to have to hand lay up the glass job instead of vaccum bagging it. I’m afraid of the fiberglass wrinkling too much with the channels, and I’d like the control for such a little project.
I’ve got to wait on the additional spackle to dry, then I’m trying the glassing by hand. Fingers crossed.

Handplane or Handboard? Part I

Sometimes, it’s just fun to ditch the surfboard and go for a swim in the ocean. Well, not so much this time of year, but bodyboarding and bodysurfing can still be fun if you’ve got a good wetsuit. Around here, we can get some big waves that are nearly impossible to get a board out into- at least in one piece.
Something I saw recently was this thing called a handplane (or handboard). This has become popular- although quite controversial in the bodysurfing world- from what I’ve seen on the internet. Bodysurfers claim that true bodysurfing is only to be done with fins, while handplane and handboard proponents claim if you can use fins, why can’t you use a little help on the other end?
Either way, handplanes/handboards seem like a fascinating ocean toy to add to the quiver. I’ve never seen one in person, only on the internet, so I thought it would be a neat project to make one, and make one that may work around here with our mushy, whitewatery waves. I know, I know, not the best time to do this project (would be more fun in the Summer), but there’s no time like the present.
A while back, I visited the local fiberglass store to pick up some things, and I asked if they had a scrap piece of foam around I could buy for cheap. They gave me a 1 foot square piece for free, at about 2 inches thick. I was going to use this to make a fin core, but then I thought it would be good for shaping a handplane.

My free piece of foam
C-Bead must mean “cooler lid” consistency

To start, I made a template from paper folded in half and I drew an outline and cut it out. I tweaked it a little here and there while it was folded in half.

Half of the template
Template cut out

After finishing cutting out the paper template, I taped it to the foam block to draw the outline of it in pencil on the foam. I did this on both sides of the foam to make sure I was going to make a straight cut.

Drawing the outline onto the foam

Ok, so here’s the fun part. I needed to cut out the shape but I didn’t have a hot wire, didn’t want to use a big saw, so I actually used a serrated bread knife. Hey, whatever works, right? I started by cutting off the corners, and then I began to fine tune the actual outline.

Hacking away at the corners
It’s taking a while, but I’m getting there….

After wrestling a bit with the foam (which was quite coarse, in my opinion) I finally had the general outline cut.

General outline of handplane

The backend I made pretty wide on purpose since I thought it could use some “push” in these waves….like I even know what I’m talking about. Anyway, I knew some of the handplanes I saw online had fins, or even channels on the bottom shaped out to give the board some lift. Since I wanted to try this, I drew an arc on the half pattern, cut them out while folded so they’d be symmetric, and drew the outline of them in pencil on the foam so I knew where to sand the foam away.

Arc for channel- sort of

Now, I’ll get ready to actually shape my handplane. Luckily, the foam was free. 🙂
In the next entry I’ll show my shaping job- let’s hope it’s worth showing….
On to Part II