Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snipes Bill Planes: an introduction

Snipes bill planes are very specific planes. If you want to do everything, like side rounds they are a necessary weapon.

Hollows and rounds cut 60 degrees of a circle. Snipes bill planes cut nearly 90 degrees, and a different portion.

Much of the time I only use the tip of the plane (red) to inset a quirk, but a full width shaving can certainly be taken (red and green).
Let's look at a few examples of quirks being inset.
 Why are these planes needed in these profiles vs. just setting the profile in with a hollow?
A hollow just won't reach in some cases. Additionally, a hollow is designed to cut the circumference of a circle where as a snipes bill is designed to cut both the circumference and the adjoining fillet.
Do you need various sized snipes bills like you need various sized hollows? The answer is probably not, unless your work is very specific. You certainly will not need as many. I have never desired one larger or smaller than the standard size that I offer, which cuts a 5/8" radius circle. 

The single size is not at all limiting. The side bead above is 3/4" diameter, below is 1/2" and 1/8".
After insetting the quirk you will shape as much as you can with various hollows. You will be able to reach nearly 150 degrees of the total, making a very acceptable bead. Are the results perfect? no, but the non-concentric circles they create (which are evident in the first side bead) will not be apparent in any view other than the cross section of the profile.

Why do snipes bill planes come in pairs? These planes do not travel well against the grain. (In fact, many times woodworkers have issues with these planes it is because they're going the wrong way or have chosen wavy grained wood that has no right way.) There are times, as can be seen above, that you'll want the profile the snipes bill creates facing a different direction.
If you were to use the snipes bills to create this linen fold, for example, (which is not necessarily recommended) you do not have the luxury of just turning your piece around and going back on the other side. You have to attack your work from the same direction.

Sometimes the snipes bill plane has nothing to do with the profile. Look again at these two

The profile of the plane has nothing to do with the finished profile. They're used simply to create a void for the hollow to enter. The profile you see is from the hollow, not the snipes bill. A hollow can't reach and cannot cut a fillet.

I know what you're thinking now. "If the profile isn't necessary, just the ability to inset a vertical quirk, What else can it do?" Due to the significant research at Clark & Williams we have been reintroduced to a wonderfully easy way of starting rabbets in square and non-square stock. One of the added extra advantages of snipes bill planes is that they introduce an easy method for starting rabbets in square stock. The plane stays in the gauge line with almost no effort while starting to define the fillet for the rabbet to follow.

I believe Don McConnell of Old Street Tool, Inc. demonstrates starting a rabbet in non-square stock in Traditional Molding Techniques: Cornice Molding. Snipes bill planes excel here.
In square stock this method is nearly fool proof, I could almost guarantee you'd be successful on your first try in non square stock, it's simple.

Using only a rabbet plane in this situation is very difficult because the rabbets are often inset far enough that you can't use your fingers as a fence. Moving fillisters, plow planes and fastening a batten down here will not work.


Is a pair of snipes bill planes necessary? After all the new ones are expensive and the old ones can't be found. They're only necessary if you like what you see above: profiles being next to profiles, quirks, shadows and working with non square stock.

----------------------

And here's the handle of my nephew's new Harry Potter wand. The story says that he has the feather of a phoenix in his wand...so I'm told.

 It's the first time I carved anything in the round. I was pretty excited that I didn't stab myself with a gouge while I was setting it in; the futures in Vegas were trading pretty high.

My middle son, Thaddeus, thinks it looks like his electric toothbrush.

8 comments:

  1. Oh man you do some nice stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Matt,

    I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your blog. After years of frustration and then limited success with molding planes after watching Don's video, I feel like you have given me both the secret password and secret handshake to unlock the key to molding plane success.

    Thanks!

    Ken

    ReplyDelete
  3. Matt,

    Thank you for all your time. I have learned more about using moulding planes in the last few days than over the past 30 years.

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
  4. Gary, Ken,

    Thanks for reading. Thank you for the compliments.

    If you like the blog tell somebody about it.

    If it helps, show me the results when you complete you next project. We'll play follow the leader.

    Matt

    Matt

    ReplyDelete
  5. Matt,

    Could you possibly post some of the dimensions for the Snipes Bill for those of us who might be ambitious enough to try to build one?

    You have definately infected me with the desire to build a half set and eventually a full set of hollows/rounds and other supporting planes like the sipes bill and rabbet planes.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Kurt,
    My standard size cuts a 5/8" radius circle. The outline on my website is indicative of what I send.
    Matt

    ReplyDelete
  7. Matt, thanks to you I completed my first cove moulding last night. I was excited. I did a couple of things wrong, but I learned what to do next time. Thanks for the great information on your site. Elmer

    ReplyDelete
  8. Elmer,
    SEND A PICTURE!

    The beauty of these tools is that you will likely, as you pointed out, know exactly what you did incorrectly once you are complete. It's just a matter of trying.

    Thanks for reading.
    Matt

    ReplyDelete