Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Step-By-Step Illustration of Hollow & Rounds

(This article was originally published in December, 2010. Few changes have been made)

Let us look at the process of creating the base moulding of Glen Huey's feature article in the most recent issue (actually, 2010) of Popular Woodworking: A cove and Ovolo.

The first steps involve the rabbet plane:

 The next steps include the proper hollows and rounds:

#6 Round making 60 degrees of an arc

#4 Hollow making 90 degrees of an arc

This is the final product:

There are only two arcs, so there are just two profiled planes used along with the rabbet.

If laid out ideally, you will be using the #6 round until it takes a single full width shaving, no more.

The #4 is slightly more tricky. You'll have to hold the plane at different angles in subsequent passes as you make 90 degrees of an arc. You'll know when you've taken one too many passes with this plane because you'll leave plane tracks with both corners. Stop one pass before that...seriously.
(Note: the #6 round was also used in this same piece's previous profile, do you see it? Hollows and rounds do not cut specific profiles. They cut specific arcs. This is why we're able to do so much with just one pair.)

Reading these post will leave you with many unanswered questions:
Why do we start with rabbets?
Why are there chamfers sometimes?
How do I know when to stop?
How is it all laid out? Why?

Answer: Hollows and rounds have no depth stops and no fences but they're only seemingly difficult to steer.

We're just getting started.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Justification for Hollows and Rounds

(This post was originally posted in December, 2010. Few substantial changes have been made, if any.)

The edges of furniture I made for 5 years were various derivatives of my same 12 router bits. Every time I thought about my next piece, I immediately thought about the various profiles involved and the methods I would choose to replicate them: “How will I get close?” “How will I have to change the profile to fit my tooling?” “How much will a new router bit cost?” Inevitably, “which router bit of the 5000 offered is closest to what I want?”

I hosted a booth at a Lie-Nielsen Handtool Event this past weekend (2010) at Phil Lowe’s Furniture Institute of Massachusetts (*Note: I will be at another Lie-Nielsen Handtool Event at FIM in early December of this year*). I again fielded a question regarding the planes I offer and was faced with a similar question of this seemingly recognizable struggle of molding profiles.

I suggested hollows and rounds as an option and was told that a router can do the same thing.

Here is what a router cannot do:

I had an issue of Popular Woodworking on my bench and asked a fellow woodworker to pick out a profile in the pages. We settled on the support profile beneath the chest of drawers’ top in the feature article: a reverse ogee and astragal. I asked the gentleman how he would produce the profile in his shop, he responded about how he would mimic the profile to get something close.

With hollows and rounds, we had the profile complete before the end of our conversation, not a derivative, not something that will work as well, not another swipe of the credit card followed by 3 day delivery. We were done.

I used a rabbet, a #6 hollow and round, a snipes bill and a #2 hollow. Here are the steps I took.

I have a list of reasons why hollows and rounds are appropriate in today’s shop. The reason why they are in mine is because they let me do anything. They end tooling. They end compromises. Hollows and rounds start true creativity and control.

Monday, November 5, 2018

This Blog, Musings From Big Pink and MSBickford.com

Approximately 13 years ago I put my name on Larry Williams' backlog, expecting delivery of planes only 11 years ago.

Approximately 12 years ago Larry Williams produced a dvd regarding making side escapement planes. As a result, I made my own. I posted pictures of those planes online and quickly received a congratulatory phone call from Larry, who I never spoke to before. He questioned if he could a) ask general questions about my experience following his instruction, b) sell me the rabbet plane that he previously convinced me to purchase vs. the moving fillester that I thought I wanted, and c) take me off his seemingly never-ending backlog.

A few years later, and with Larry's consent, I started pursuing customers while making faithful reproductions of Larry's faithful reproductions. I quickly recognized that interest in these tools could be fantastic while familiarity with them was negligible. Knowledge must be built.

My blog was started for those that knew nothing about hollows, rounds and the other supplemental planes. I started my blog in an effort to explain order to my customers while also establishing it for myself. I started this run-on blog as an effort to put my own, personal success with these tools into a translatable series of steps.

After many blog posts and minor successes I was offered the opportunity to write a book for a brand new publishing company, Lost Art Press. I had the writing bug and happily agreed.

The meandering explanations of this blog were the start of that book. This blog was my beginning. These paragraphs created my first true customers and these written words established my few woodworking credentials. This running blog, however, always assumed that you were here from its beginning--growing in your interest as I grew in my explanations. 

I have always imagined my blog being viewed chronologically from the first post through the most recent. Call me 'juvenile' or 'old-fashioned,' but starting at the beginning doesn't seem to happen today because there's no obvious reason to start there.

As a result, I believe that reposting several entries of my past has value, other than lazily integrating past sentences and explanations onto my new website.

Without further ado, stay tuned.

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 matt@msbickford.com 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 matt@msbickford.com 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 matt@msbickford.com

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.