The next project that I am starting to work on is making a set of planemaker’s floats. I hope to eventually hope to make a full set of moulding planes. The photo above shows a set of planemaker’s floats from Lie-Nielson Toolworks. A float is essentially a cross between a coarse file and a saw. They are used to fine-tune the wedge mortise and mouth of moulding planes.
For those of you who are not familiar with moulding planes, they are wooden planes used to make mouldings like ovolos, ogees, beads, astrigals, etc. for the tops, middles, and bases of furniture. The most versatile moulding planes are called hollows and rounds. These planes cut various sizes of convex and concave moulding elements. Hollow planes are used to cut convex profiles, round planes cut the concave elements. When different sizes of hollows and rounds are used together fairly complex mouldings can be produced.
There are a few good resources available on making hollow and round planes, and a number of woodworking bloggers have written about making planes themselves. The source I’m using is a DVD from Lie-Nielson Toolworks called “Making Traditional Side Escapement Planes” with Larry Williams.
So far on the project of making floats, I have only done layout work on the tool steel I’ll be making the floats from. The floats I’m making first are 1/8″ thick. I ordered the O1 steel bar stock from McMaster Carr. I chose to use 1 1/4″ wide stock even though I only need 1″ of thickness since I don’t have much experience working with steel. The steel I am using is McMaster Carr item number 9516k48. The layout process involves coating the steel with layout fluid, which adds a colored surface that can be scratched off with an awl for marking the lines to which you are going to cut.
The next step is to use an awl along with a square, ruler, and dividers to draw shape of the floats on the bar stock.
The next step will be to use a hacksaw to cut out the blanks for the floats. I will cover this in a future post.
Until then. . .