Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Using a Dedicated Moulding Plane

Moulding planes are fun to use. Limiting the amount of time spent with each plane, however, is desirable. This intentional reduction lessens the amount of time spent sharpening.

Starting a dedicated plane on a square corner will drastically increase the number of necessary passes to completion. Increased passes results in increased wear and increased sharpening. 

The edges of the iron that cuts the lower portion of the profile will take dozens of passes prior to the portion that cuts the top takes one.

(Eight passes into this profile and we still have a many, many more)

Know that the entire cutting edge shall be addressed even when only one portion of the iron needs to be. This will keep your plane’s iron matching throughout the width of your plane’s sole.

To reduce the amount of time spent with this plane simply add a chamfer.

The chamfer will remove a significant amount of the waste material.

Know that a chamfer that is too narrow is far better than one that is too wide.
(the above is ideal)

(Left is better than right)

I encounter a lot of woodworkers that recommend starting a profiled plane at the end and slowly working backwards with abbreviates passes towards the beginning.
(Note the profile is slopped towards us and is much closer to complete than beneath the plane.)

I have never used this method but I can certainly see the value: Holding a plane at a consistent angle over the course of several feet is an acquired skill. Working from the end to the beginning allows the longer passes to fall into the predefined path of the previous, shorter passes. This process encourages a more uniform profile.

Finally, I have SOLD OUT of the 7/16" Ovolo sets that come with an appropriately sized hard Arkansas slip stone. I will have more available in early September. Please send an email to if you definitely want to be included. (Payment will be due before delivery, nothing now.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Various Features of Dedicated Moulding Planes, 7/16" Roman Ovolo

This 7/16” Roman Ovolo plane I introduced last week is easy to use, straight-forward to sharpen, and creates a profile that is simple to include in your work. 

When familiarizing yourself with this plane and its use, one must first address a few aspects of its design that can greatly affect the way the plane shall perform.

This dedicated ovolo is sprung and shall be used only at the angle for which it is designed. The angle that this plane is to be held is defined by the ‘Spring Lines’ on either end of the plane, 30 degrees from vertical in this case.

Aggressive, easily seen spring lines make the plane easier to use.

A dedicated plane that is not sprung is designed to be held vertical.

Both of these planes produce the same profile, the one on the left in both images is sprung.

Why is this plane sprung? There are a few purposes to having a plane that is sprung. The first is that the plane's sole and profile does not go as far up into the plane’s escapement. This allows for a mouth that is both tighter and more uniform across its width.

The sprung plane is on the left again.

Additionally, there are benefits to the iron’s cutting geometry when a plane is sprung. In this case, the cutting edge of the sprung plane is never far from perpendicular to your force. This results in more of a shearing cut. The scraping action of the unsprung plane greatly reduces the longevity of a sharpened edge. 

Adding a spring to a plane is an example of technology that is in the tool and often overlooked. The height of the fence is another.

Why does the plane have a wide fence?In addition to the plane being sprung, it also has a tall fence. When the fence of this plane is tall you are able to remove more material with your chamfers. (think Bulk Waste Removal.)

The plane on the right has no reference surface for the fence. Therefore, the same chamfer will not work

A tall fence allows a wide chamfer. A small fence demands a smaller chamfer. A small chamfer means more passes for your profiled plane; which means more use, additional maintenance, and increased sharpening of an edge that is seemingly difficult to address.

Note the difference in material that must be removed.

When considering the purchase of a plane, new or antique, all of these considerations shall be taken into account. 

SOLD OUT (More available in early September, email to put your name on the list): I still have a few of these 7/16" Ovolo sets available. They are $295 plus shipping.These planes will arrive sharpened to the extent that I use them and come with an appropriately sized hard Arkansas slip stone for future maintenance. Email with questions or requests.

As always, you can check out my FAQ page for some general answers

Friday, August 3, 2018

New Addition: Roman Ovolo

Hollows and rounds are a perfect fit into my woodwork and they may be a perfect fit into yours. Committing to a set of hollows and rounds, whether antique or new, is costly. The same commitment is intimidating if you've never sharpened a profiled edge before.

Sharpening profiled irons precludes many from introducing wooden profiled planes to their shop and in their work.

I have made numerous dedicated planes in the past. They were all custom profiles sent by various clients.

I am, for the first time, adding a single dedicated moulding plane to my standard offering: A 7/16" square ovolo with 1/8" fillets that comes with the appropriately sized slip stone to sharpen the cutting edge.

This dedicated plane will be the subject of a few blog posts in the coming days. I will go over how to set up this plane, how to use this plane, and how to maintain (sharpen) this plane with the included hard Arkansas slip coupled with whatever bench stones you currently have: oil, water, whatever.

The purpose of this new standard offering is to introduce you, the user, to all aspects of profiled wooden planes. This square Ovolo is easy to use, straight-forward to maintain, and has a profile that may be included in many projects. This plane will, of course, come sharpened and ready to use.

The plane and hard Arkansas slip stone will be $295 plus shipping.  The plane will come sharpened and ready to use. SOLD OUT: Many are available for current delivery. If they sell out then I will make more for delivery in early September. I intend to have this as an item that is nearly always available.

If you're interested in putting your name on the list for delivery in early September for one of these sets or have further questions please send an email to

Monday, February 19, 2018

Seasonal Maintenance and Tuning of Wooden Planes, Step 1

Note: This post is more than 10 paragraphs. It will take minutes to read and likely more to digest. The video, which twice demonstrates the entirety of what is being explained, is 49 seconds. Understand, but don't be overwhelmed.

I deliver the planes I sell sharpened, stropped and ready to work hard, figured wood. Keeping the planes in that condition is up to you, the end-user.

When I teach classes on the subject of producing profiles with moulding planes I bring more than 50 planes for the students to use: a pair of #6s, a pair of #10s and a rabbet for each. Each plane I bring for the class works at the same level of each plane I sell.

These classes are not a two-day sales pitch for the planes I make, however. (In fact, at the end of a few classes I've been asked by students where I purchased my planes, which is awful salesmanship.) I do not actively push my planes at classes, shows, or even this blog because new planes certainly will not be everybody's conclusion and we are only here to learn.

Despite not actively trying to sell the planes to the students, I know that I will be judged upon the performance of my planes. As such, I tune every single plane I anticipate being used prior to going. At the class I want each student to learn how to use the tool, not how to fight the tool; I want each student to get an idea of how long an edge should feel and last, not start by sharpening a plane; I want each student to leave, at least, with a goal for tuning their own planes.

All of this tuning adds up quickly in the days leading up to teaching because, in addition to the 50+ planes for the students, I also bring all of my demo planes. I tune up my side beads, snipes bills, ogees, etc.

The rest of this post and the next one is the process I follow for each tool. This is the same process you may use with any tool you purchase from me. It will be added to my FAQ page upon completion.

Step #1:

The soles of all planes go out of flat in time. As such, the soles need to be addressed on occasion with all planes, wooden and metal.

A Stanley plane may take 75 years to go out of flat while a wooden plane may go slightly out of flat seasonally. A metal plane's sole may take significant effort to bring back to a single plane while a wooden plane that has been recently tuned is very quick.

This post is intended to show this fast process of addressing this aspect of the seasonal maintenance that goes along with the tools that I sell. Staying on top of this process (i.e. do not let them sit in a wooden box on a concrete floor for five unused years) limits the maintenance to only what will be demonstrated.

A high spot often develops behind the mouth. With a wooden plane that's been tuned recently, the inevitable high spot will likely be slight.

Know that a plane can only take a shaving as fine as the sole is flat. On occasions in our class or your shop users will want to take a fine shaving. As a result, I start the tuning process for class by flattening the sole on all occasions.

The flattening process is so quick and the likelihood of the high spot so high that I just re-flatten everything. 

With the iron set and retracted into the body, I start with a piece of 150 grit wrapped around the middle of a plane's mate. I use the round as a sanding block for a hollow and vice versa. These few passes will make the likely high spot a low spot (or a rare low spot a lower spot, which doesn't really matter). I then wrap a piece of 220 around the length of the sanding plane to bring both ends coplanar with the center. Flip the planes and follow the same process.

You can test if the resultant sole is slightly concave along the length with a straight edge. If you don't then the issue will present itself during the test cuts.

There are a couple other advantages to flattening the sole. This process also removes the finish from the sole which will make sharpening easier. You can now see the silhouette of the iron's edge above the horizon of the mouth much easier.

Additionally, if the sole is out of flat it is common to see the back of the mouth, think that what you're seeing it the iron, and make unnecessary and poor adjustments to the iron's profile.

Antique planes will follow a similar series of steps. Though the process is similar, the steps and effort will likely be exaggerated with a tool that hasn't been successfully tuned in the past 100 years. Think 60 grit instead of 150.

Next will be adding a brand new edge to the tool.

Note 2: Do not buy a plane the you haven't the ability to address the sole. I use my hollows to flatten my rounds, my rounds to flatten my hollows and my hollows and rounds to flatten my dedicated planes. All antique planes will be out of flat to varying degrees.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Side Rounds: A Serial Instructional, Part II

Part I of this Side Round serial may be found here.

When addressing the idea of side rounds the immediate question is often: "Does one need a series of side rounds in the same manner that one needs a series of rounds?"

The answer to this question is "No."

There are, of course, many different arcs and radii that may be included in a final moulding profile. Individual hollows and rounds are used to cut those same arcs and radii. Therefore, many rounds may be ideal.

Though hollows and rounds are used to make a specific circumference, they should not be used to set that same arc of a circle down, into wood.

The shape of the rounds' body will preclude it from reaching into the absolute corner.

These instances are where the side rounds comes into play. The side round will establish the transition point where this particular profile changes from convex to concave. 

The side round often only creates clearance for the appropriately sized round while establishing that transition point.
As such, a comprehensive series of side rounds is not necessary because the profile they create is not often included in the final profile, only the transition point and clearance they create is.

I make two sizes of side rounds as standard:

These side rounds may be used for creating clearance for a wide range of rounds.

Further information may, of course, be found here.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rule Joint Planes, Etc.

MERCY!!! I was trying to talk about side rounds here, but...

Throughout the many years I’ve been making/selling planes I have seen several common requests go in and out of fashion. Some months I get numerous requests for moving fillesters. On other occasions my time is spent responding to the wave of those that suddenly want tongue and grooves, 3/8” side beads, panel raisers, skewed rabbets, etc. 

These past few weeks I have been responding to a significant number of people interested in a pair of Rule Joint Planes. The number has been so significant, in fact, that I am here, writing this blog, in comprehensive response. (I will, of course, add it to my FAQ page, too.)

For those of you that happen to stumble upon this blog post and do not know what a rule joint is, that’s ok. You may, after all, only know it as the integral joint of a drop leaf table. You may even have a few in your living room. Your grandmother’s favorite piece of furniture may have showcased it, like that of my own...

The joint allows a table to be extended easily while decorating the seam with a common moulding profile: a square ovolo with fillets.

A rule joint is comprised of two sides. The primary side is the top, which is a square ovolo with fillet that is ideally more than 90 degrees of a circle. 

The second half is a square cove, ideally with a slight flat at the bottom.

All of this allows the joint to be opened and closed seamlessly, without seeing any voids.

At first glance you may conclude that these profiles are easily executed with simple dedicated planes because they are simple, specific profiles. To some degree you are correct, each portion could be made with these planes.

The issue with this process is getting the two profiles to align perfectly because the depth stops of common dedicated planes will register upon different faces of the table's top.

This is fine if the thickness of the pieces being worked is exactly the width for which the planes were designed: no more, no less.

This fact is, however, an issue once any slight change in stock is worked.
 The slight change will result in a joint that does not align.

The profiles above do not match. In fact, any material that isn't exactly thicknessed for the planes' design will not match. Thus, common, sprung, dedicated planes will not work for this joint.

"But Matt," you say, "there are historical examples of rule joint planes. Why not this?"

Let us take a closer look at rule joint planes while acknowledging the one truth I've illustrated above: the two planes must register upon the same face. 

The fences of the dedicated rule joint planes must register upon the underside...

(in the scenario above the plane on the left has no depth stop, which is a MAJOR issue)

or the top 

This final illustration would be my choice, but there are still more issues involved. Due to the need for the planes to register upon the top of the piece, both planes cannot be sprung. This means that the scraping action of the cutting edge is greatly increased. This greatly reduces the edge's longevity. See here and here for further information on this subject because there are even more issues regarding seasonal maintenance and difficulty sharpening (not just increased amount of sharpening.)

I guess what I'm saying is the following:

Rule joints and rule joint planes are perfect examples of where hollows and rounds excel. I wrote a blog post on the actual steps years ago. It can be found here.

A rule joint is a perfect place to begin for somebody interested in introducing hollows and rounds into their work. The two portions of this joint are elementary and may be perfected in two or three attempts. In fact, I teach classes on using these planes and the two profiles included in the rule joint are only the third and fourth in a weekend spent using profiled planes excessively.

 Be done with the joint before lunch:

If you're running ahead of the group then do it better:

Make a rule joint with hollows and rounds knowing the whole time that these two profiles are only a portion of what may be done with a single pair.

In short, I don't make rule joint planes because I don't want my name on the nonfunctioning tools in your workshop. Make the joint with hollows and rounds and then use the same tools to do much more.