NOTE: this tool is not a toy and should not be used unsupervised by children.
Hi Gang. Every now and then, we’d like to highlight some of the little tricks of the trade that we use to design, develop, build and fly scale models of aircraft of the Golden Age of Aviation.
As with any task, there’s typically a proper tool for the job. Modelers are great improvisers, but there is no substitute for the proper tool.
For shaping balsa or other softwood leading and trailing edges (wing, horizontal, vertical stabilizers, etc.), the Little Giant 3 Way Curve Razor Blade Planer is one of those tools. Use this plane “with” the grain to remove a uniform amount of material over the length of the strip of wood and prepare the piece for final finishing with sandpaper.
The short video at left demonstrates the Little Giant 3 Way Curve Plane in action. A 1/16 square balsa stab leading edge is pretty small to be planed and most often in this case I’d simply round the edges with a sanding stick before tissue covering. But you get the idea. The tool really shines when planing larger strip wood over greater lengths where the sanding stick would remove material more slowly and in an uneven manner.
First introduced in the mid-1950’s the Little Giant was released in Flat and Curved Plane versions. This article and the accompanying video discusses only the 3 Way Curved Plane.
The Little Giant measures approximately 2 inches wide, by 2 in. long and 1.25 in. deep. Cast in metal, it weighs just over 100 grams and is shaped to fit the hand well with the thumb and forefingers falling naturally to the sides of the plane.
The Little Giant uses a standard double-edged shaving razor blade, which means this tool is not a toy and should not be used unsupervised by children. Change the blade and use the plane with care.
Used properly, this tool will deliver excellent results. The Little Giant plane can be found for sale periodically on ebay.
Periodically, we’ll highlight some of our favorite tools & techniques.