Monday, December 6, 2010

Hollows & Rounds

The edges of furniture I made for 5 years were various derivatives of the same 12 router bits. Every time I thought about my next piece I immediately thought about the various profiles involved. "How will I get close?" "How will I have to change it?" "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 last weekend at Phil Lowe's Furniture Institute of Massachusetts. I always field questions regarding the planes I offer and I'm often told that a router can do the same thing.

Here's 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 profile beneath the chest of drawers' top in the feature article: a reverse ogee and astragal. 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.


  1. Congrats on the new blog Matt, I've got it bookmarked and look forward to seeing what you're up. The planes look amazing and I'm making plans to add a set to my arsenal, thanks for sharing.


  2. Brilliant. Someday I hope to learn how to do this. It just seems so much more enjoyable.


  3. Thanks for taking the time to write the blog. I appreciate it very much. It is my hope to purchase a half set in cherry in the new year. John

  4. Matt,
    One example I like to give is replacement moldings. A power tool shop will have to custom order a cutter to make 8 feet of a molding that a person with hollows and rounds can make in a few minutes and at much lower cost.

  5. They are enjoyable. They'll likely change the specific parts of a project to which you look forward.

  6. Matt,
    Thank you for taking the time to write this blog. There is such a dearth of information on how to use hollow and round planes to create moldings. This blog looks like it will add greatly to our collective knowledge about how to do this. As you move forward in your posts, please talk about how you make decisions about what size H & R you will use to create a given profile.

    Again, thanks, I'm looking forward to studying all of these posts.