Moulding Planes the final frontier

What is it about these planes that has me so fixated on them, is it the unlimited infinite number of profiles that one can make.  Is it the glistening surface effect it leaves behind that can be burnished to an even higher sheen from the shavings it produces. All I know on that moment when I hold one in my hands I’m transported back in time, to a time in the 18th century when man new his craft, when his skill was at it’s best living and working from sun up to sundown in a most a pristine environment.  Mountainous ranges, luscious green grass, listening to the hoof claps of horses as they strolled past your workshop window.  Long gone are those days when man was truly happy and probably didn’t even know it.

Yes I’m having a moment here because I’m trying to understand clearly why I do what I do. Why I choose to work wood the way I do, I need to cleanse my mind of impure thoughts of resorting to machinery due to frustration of personal skill limitations.  It’s a challenge, a challenge to one’s mind, ones body and soul.  It takes patience, perseverance and a lifetime of dedication all the while passing it on to the next guy what you have learned and acquired through the sweat of your brow to prepare the journey, for the next generation of woodworkers.

I need to elevate my skills to such a level to where I too one day can stand in line shoulder to shoulder with my crafting ancestors and hope to earn the title of craftsman.  No, this is not an easy task and the journey is long and arduous.  Yes it is indeed arduous.

These moulding planes has proven to be quite a challenge, I have so far faced many obstacles due to tool limitations and poor planning.  I have also made a dreadful mistake of where’s there’s no going back.  There really is no easy way of making these planes, neither using traditional nor non traditional methods.  Every method has it’s own challenge and the wider plane the harder it is to apply this french method.

Ok enough with ambiguity and I don’t have time to take pictures either as I must get back to work on the planes and then get ready to go to work to earn my keep.

So here it is a nut shell, I made the mouth opening too big because when I first cut those angles and took out the waste in between, the mouth opening was too small. But then I noticed that the saw guide I made and used one of the angles being the 55 degree was not square across.  So now the bed of the plane was also out of square which I then had to correct.  So I then recut a new angle further away which resulted in the mouth opening gap being too much.

Then came the part where I had to route out the rest where one would mortise as traditionally done.  Again a new problem arose due to the thickness of the body of the plane and the rabbeted top.

The standard stock blade that comes with the router plane is just barely long enough to reach the bottom.  I had to take out the depth stop and it was still short by a 32nd.  Also there is the issue of not having enough real estate meaning timber for the plate of the router to work on.  So the maximum thickness plane I can make using this french method is 1 1/4 wide, which is still fine as I’m not a joiner and any crown moulding I do make with this plane will suffice.  But if the need arises I will have to make a bigger one, I doubt it though.

I have seen Chris Schwartz use a much longer router plane blade when he was building his workbench I think or it could of been something else but the point is he has one and I don’t know where he got it.  Maybe it was custom made blade specifically for him, I will ask him.

It became evidently clear that I must take another approach working with different thickness moulding planes, I know now there is no one way method of building these planes that one can stick to, but a variety of ways one has to be implement.  So for the next build which will be the round and no, I haven’t even come close to finishing this one off yet, I cannot rabbet the top portion until I have routed out the mortise first.   But this also means that I cannot reattach that same piece I would normally have sawn off, instead I will have to cut a fresh piece  from another piece of wood that could have been used to make another moulding plane.  It also means that the grain will not be in line with each other, which may  or may not cause any issues down the track.  But I’m hoping as Greg pointed out with so many working laminated planes out there with no issues been made mentioned, I don’t think it will cause any issues.  This is only a small thin 1/4″ part that will cover the side of the mortise.

I actually wish but it’s too late now, that I had of continued making prototypes of varying thickness planes from pine, rather than using this very expensive beech to potentially stuff up on.  If you are going to attempt to make these planes I strong recommend you to practise on scrap first and cover your bases until you know for sure exactly what to do.

What I would also highly recommend is to get yourself an accurate mitre saw, it doesn’t have to be antique but you need to get those angle right and square.  Fart arsing around with a saw guide getting it right by hand isn’t as easy as pie. The sawing part is easy but making that saw guide by hand isn’t.  There really is no room for error.

For the machinists this most frustrating part would be a walk in the park for you, all you need is a chopsaw we call it a “drop saw” with radial arms and a depth setting on it.  You would make successive passes as you would with a radial saw.  This method unfortunately  defeats the purpose of skill building and hand tool woodworking which is what made our crafting ancestors so blood good at their job.  You need to crawl through mud and climb the steepest mountains to develop such skills.  The price is high but the sweet taste of it is everlasting.

This plane will still be functioning well even if the mouth is a little too big, I haven’t affected the planes functionality in anyway but what I have done is affect the efficiency of building them.  Woodworking needs to be efficient to work quickly and effectively despite whether you earn a living from it or not.   These are just baby step challenges that will be overcome by slowing down, taking your time by walking through the process in your mind before you begin.  Work on scrap if you have it or go and buy some.  Instead of listening to the radio and getting stressed from all the ads and rap crap, I’m arrogant, gangster too lazy to work for a living music, put on some calming music that you can relax to and concentrate so you can focus and your mind opens up to new ideas and work methods.  Our work environment plays an equally important part to successful woodworking or any other work for that matter.

So I’ll leave you with this for the moment, until I can figure it all out, I won’t be making any videos on it yet and any progress posts I make will be called Moulding planes build Part A and so forth until I’ve nailed it.  Then I’ll start making a video and hopefully do an in depth walk through if I get my cameramen kids to record it.

2 thoughts on “Moulding Planes the final frontier

  1. Why we do this is something I have been thinking about a lot lately as well. I have yet to pin down a satisfactory answer though.

    I know you will get this process down and have a whole rack full of moulding planes in short order.


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