Tag Archives: moulding plane

Iron Profiled

I only had about an hour to spend in the shop this week, so I didn’t too much done.  That being said, the iron for my first moulding plane is profiled.  The process of profiling the iron starts with putting some machinist layout fluid on the front of the plane iron blank, inserting the blank into the plane body with the wedge in place, and scribing the profile of the plane’s sole onto the blank.

IMG_2868Next comes the grinder.  I used the grinder first to get a square edge as close to the layout line I had scribed as possible.  Then I ground a bevel on the back side of the iron.  Boy did I find out how inadequate  my hand cranked grinder is for this job; or a least the grinding wheel I have on the grinder is inadequate.  The photo above was taken after I redressed the wheel once the iron was roughly profiled.  While I was grinding, there was a U-shaped trough in the middle of the wheel that was around 3/16″ deep.This Norton 3x wheel is great for grinding plane irons and chisels, but for work like this, I really need a harder grinding wheel and I especially need a grinder with rests for holding the iron in the right position while I grind.  I’m looking into a couple of electric high-speed grinders that I can use for this work.  I’ll write a post if (when) I get one.

After the iron in roughly the right profile, I inserted it back into the plane body to check the profile.  I then reapplied the machinist layout fluid and re-scribed the profile.  Once this was done, I used a coarse diamond needle file to refine the profile so that I matches the profile of the plane.


With this done, the iron is now profiled to match the plane and has a flat along the edge that is about 1/64″ wide.  This flat will be taken care of after the iron is heat-treated (hardened and then tempered).  I’m not really sure yet how I want to go about the heat treating process.  If any of you have any experience with heat-treatment and have any suggestions, please let me know.  I would like to make a full set of these planes, so a long-term solution would be preferred.

To close, here is  a photo of the profiled iron in the plane body.IMG_2871

Until next time. . .

A little more work on the moulding plane

I didn’t have too much time to work on the moulding plane this week, but I did make a little progress.  The plane irons for the round I’m working on and the mating hollow that I will make next came in this week.  I was able to get the iron for the round plane ready for bedding and profiling.


The first step that I took was to relieve some of the material off of the shoulder of the iron to keep it from damaging the plane body.  As can be seen in the photo below, the front of edge of the should would dig into the plane body if used as it came.IMG_2837

I started out by using a sharpie marker to note the material that needed to be removed.  After that, I moved started to work with a file to remove the material.  My mill file needs to be replaced, and I ended up using a coarse diamond needle file to remove the material.  After the material was removed, I rounded over the shoulder of the iron.

Finally, the last bit of work that I did was to carve out the ramp between the grip of the plane and the escapement so that the iron would be in the right position for bedding and profiling.

I hope to have some time next weekend to work on bedding the iron and getting the rough profiling of the plane iron finished.

Until next time. . .

More on plane makers floats

I didn’t have much time for woodworking this week.  However, I did take a few minutes to get the wedge for my first moulding plane cut out and to the right thickness for the wedge mortise.

Last week, I mentioned that I would take some photos of the plane makers floats I used and where they are used in the process of making a wooden side-escapement plane such as a moulding plane.

First up is a crank-neck float.  This isn’t a dedicated plane making float, but it is a handy tool.  The toothed portion of the blade is around 3 inches long, and reasonably flat.  This makes it a great tool for leveling and cleaning up the grip of the plane.  I also used it cut the rounded profile of the plane.  I had to use a straight-edge to make sure it had a straight profile along the length of the plane, but it worked out well.

Once the mortise roughed in by boring and the removing the waste with a chisel, the float work in the mortise begins with the side float.  As can be seen from the photo above, the angle of the float is just a little smaller than the angle of the escapement.  This float is used to remove material from the sides of the wedge mortise and to refine the fit of the wedge.  Floats can leave a very clean finished surface, so they are also used to refine the mortise once it is close to being the right size.  Both sides of the mortise get cleaned up with the side float.  At the moment, I’ve only made a push style side float (it cuts on the push stroke only) and I’m considering making a pull style side float as well.  The pull floats are good for removing material at the mouth of the plane because the force required to use the float moves from the narrowest part of the mortise at the mouth toward the larger grip end of the mortise.  This keeps the mouth from being damaged.

Next, the bed (back wall, where the iron rests) and breast (the front wall of the mortise where the wedge is puts pressure to hold the iron in place) of the plane are refined with the edge float.  Again, the angle of this float is slightly less than the wedge mortise angle.  This float is used to make the bed and breast straight so that the wedge and iron will make full connection, which will affect how securely the wedge holds the iron in place.

The final floats that are used in making moulding planes are cheek floats.  I use both push and pull style cheek floats.  These floats are used to hollow out the sides of the mortise slightly.  This helps to make the wedge fit a little better.

That pretty much covers the use of these floats in making a moulding plane.  I plan to order the plane iron blanks for this plane and it’s mating hollow (concave) plane from Lie-Nielsen Toolworks.  Once I get these irons, I’ll write some posts about profiling the iron for this plane and then I’ll make the hollow plane and get some photos of the process so that I can write a post about it.

Until next time. . .

Looking for an angle. . .

I mentioned in my post last week that I have been starting to look for and purchase some special tools that, according to Larry Williams DVD, Making Traditional Side Escapement Planes, will make the process of making moulding planes easier.  One of these tools is a Universal Bevel Protractor.  These are really more of a machinist tool than a tool for woodworking, but they are useful for setting accurate angles for bedding plane irons and fitting wedges.  I started looking for one online and almost immediately had sticker shock.  The first one I found was on Amazon.com and runs around $260 U.S.  Needless to say, this is out of my price range for a one-trick-pony tool like this.  This tool’s trick is that it will let you accurately measure or set an angle down to 1/12 of a degree.  I gave up on getting one and decided that I’d have to find some other way to set the angles I needed for making planes.


Then, on my way home from a business trip in Cincinnati, I decided to stop into an antique mall that I try to hit anytime I’m in the area.  I wasn’t in the store for 10 minutes and what did I find but a Universal Bevel Protractor.  And the price was only $50 U.S. – SOLD!

In his DVD, Larry Williams gives specific bed angles that are most commonly used for planes and with this tool, I was able to make some saw guides that will let me saw out the escapement of the planes (where the shavings come out) at the right angles.  There are four common bedding angles (called pitches) that are used for planes: standard pitch (45º) for softwoods, york pitch (50º) for both soft and hardwoods, middle pitch (55º) for hardwoods, and half pitch (60º) for figured woods or woods with interlocking grain.  So far, I have made guides for all of the pitches except half pitch.IMG_2775

These are simply wooden blocks with with the desired angles cut on them and a fence glued on  to register them against the plane being made.  Then, the guide can be clamped to the plane and used to guide a saw to cut out the escapement.  The right side of each guide is the bed angle (minus 1/4º to allow for adjustments) and the left side is the breast angle (the breast is the front wall of the escapement and wedge mortise).  These angles result in a 10 1/2º wedge angle for holding in the planes iron.

Hopefully, in the next few weeks, I’ll be able to start working on making a plane or two.  I’ll be sure to get photos and post about the process.

Until next time . . .

Planemaker’s Floats – Part 1

Plane Makers Floats

Plane Makers Floats

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.

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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. . .