Robo-bevel tool

I'm about to start a strip built kayak, and am curious about the subject tool from Guillemot Kayaks.

Has anybody used one, and what do you think of it?  Easy to use?   Does the job well?   Better or worse than bead and cove? 

It seems like a lot of $$ when the mini plane is included, almost $130!!   It seems like a simple enough substitute could be made, a mini plane off ebay for less than $15.00, 12 mm wide, but that is easily accommodated, and some scrap 12, 6, and 2 mm ply in the workshop.

Any opinions would be welcome.

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RE: Robo-bevel tool

i use the robo bevel.  i like it,   its a bit of money, but a tool i like having in the arsenal.

i have built a number of cedar strip boats and i do not consider it a must-have tool.  the most important tool for a cedar strip boat is going to be a low angle block plane.....even if you build with cove and bead.

if you build a boat with cove and bead the block plane is going to see a lot of work on the ends of the strips where you have to cut across the width of the strip to make it all come together.  so a lot of the strips at the ends of the boats are all going to get some kind of block plane treatment.

if you do a regular stripper (non-cove and bead), you will also be putting shallow bevels along the edges of the strips where they abut one another as well as the work described above on the ends.

if you do a regular stripper (non-cover and bead) you will use the robo bevel to make the shollow bevels along the edges of the strip where they abut one another and a block plane on the ends.   a robo bevel, candidly, makes quick work of those abutting shallow bevels and tends to result in cleaner work becuase of the guide.   and if there is a lot of work like that on the boat (and that depends on the design) i found it faster and less aggravating to use the robo bevel.

but the robo bevel does not solve all the problems  becuase of its limitations on where it can be applied.  the shorter and more curvy the boat, for example, the less you will be able to use it.  on longer, straighter boats it will see a lot more use.

i am currently working on a 14 foot petrel play and i have been a bit frustrated regarding the proportion of work that the robo-bevel can be applied to.  on a night heron, however, it will see a lot more use.  most of the problem, frankly, is not the mini plane, its the guide which is large which gets in the way  becuase it wont take a sharp curve or will be blocked by an adjacent strip....i wish i had a mini-guide for the mini-plane so it could see more use.

anyway, i hope that helps.   

below is latest pic of a 14 foot boat i am working on with rectangular strips.  i would say at this point, the robo-bevel did about 30% to 40% of the bevels and the low angle block plane did 60% to 70% of all of the bevels.



RE: Robo-bevel tool

 I concur with Howard.

I bought one of the first ones and have used it on several boats. The price was lower then so I didn't mind adding it to my kit. There's a bit of a learning curve with regards to how to hold it so that the blade cuts properly and when to put it down and use a block plane. I also find that the shavings clog it up often. I've been tempted to add another plane to it so I can use it in both directions but have not done so.


RE: Robo-bevel tool

Just wanted to add my concurrence to Dan's point about shavings clogging it up.   

on the clogging, i have become inured to it and now consider it a 'feature' of the tool.... a little bargain that i make for the benefit of my abuting plane work being made relatively simple.

and since building a boat is supposed to put me in a 'happy place' it just has been incorporated into my work practice.    think about it like "wax on, wax off" from my yamagi in the karate kid.  the "wax on" is the cut, the "wax off" is the declogging.

after a while, you develop a rythem and dexterity of how to declog it with a finger (if you happen to have small fingers) and keep moving and it just becomes part of the "flow state" that you acheive when you work.  it makes you slow down and be contemplative......else you blow up in frustration and throw it against the shop floor....which is really not a good "mind state" to be in for successful and enjoyable building.

thanks dan for pointing out this potential glitch that i had, through a long process of mental agility and wellness thinking, turned into a feature.




RE: Robo-bevel tool

   I used the Robo Bevel a lot on the hull sections of the Petrel Play, but not so much on the deck. I found that with the angles comes moments where a small block plane, a rasp, a chisel, or sand paper worked better.  

I also found that if your technique was a little off it was easy to leave a small edge on the inside of the strip that must be cleaned off.  A finger, knife or chisel made quick work of this edge. 

Expense............given the time it would take for me to fabricate the tool, order the mini plane and make it all work. (refabricate & test again, again, etc)   I find the tool a lot more efficient and of less cost.  You said ,  ".....a mini plane off ebay for less than $15.00....."   Sure it might work.  I can tell you that the Veritas Mini plane, $47.50 plus shipping,  is good construction. It is not bent metal, wood or plastic.    If you can do better on Amazon, go for it. 

Back order............I've never had to wait on Guillemont Kayak for parts to come. He seems to have inventory.  He makes most of the stuff right there. Not so with most other companies. I have two side rabbit planes ordered since January, order status seems to be back order 30 more days at the end of each 30 days.  I think the prices where  $89 and  $139.  I've finished the stripping and don't need them now. 

Biggest disadvantage..........The Robo bevel doesn't fit in the drawer with my planes. I have to put it with the saws. 

On cove and bead....... it has some advantages. You can slide a strip onto the beade and it wants to stay there.  But I often found myself sanding, and/or planing the cove or the bead off any way. You can also break off the edges of the cove.  Besides all that when I mill out my strips plain "square" strips it eliminates one more step and a lot of saw dust. However I inherited some cove and bead stirps which eliminated milling all together. Which you would get with a kit order. 

Note...... A really skilled duffer can screw up a joint on either method. 

RE: Robo-bevel tool

   Thanks guys for yhour input.    I particularly take note of the low angle block plane information.

RE: Robo-bevel tool

I ordered a small plane, 1/2" to make my own version of a robo level, but it hadn't arrived two weeks back, so I launched into the build anyway.   So far I've used only a docking saw and a surform, 40 years old, and what I used for my first stitch and glue kayak, and it's worked fine.  

I've bevelled the strips freehand, most to a very tight fit, and I'll be ready to glass in another week or so, currently working on the recessed cockpit.


RE: Robo-bevel tool

   I ordered a side rabbit plane. OK, two planes from seperate companies. The first one came in two weeks after I finished the stripping of the boat. I cancelled the other. 

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