One of the topics that will be covered in the third issue of The Lost Scrolls of HANDWORK will be moulding planes. I’ll show you step by step method of building a pair of No.4 hollow and round using the French build method of the 18th century. It’s a lot easier building a pair of no.14 than it is the more useful smaller ones like the no.4.
The French method is about the cutting a Rebate/Rabbet so you can make the mortise and then laminate that cut off part back on. So there will be some sawing to do and that part isn’t all that easy. For one you need to sset the saw kerf perfectly straight and then maintain a vertical angle throughout the cut. One way you could do this is to use a kerfing plane, but since I don’t have one and really don’t need one a shoulder plane works very well. I do plan on making a kerfing plane in the future, but for now I know I don’t need it.
The first thing you need to do is strike a line about a 32nd in from the desired depth.
Then with the shoulder plane or a rabbet plane if you have one lean the plane to the left side to create a kerf for the saw to rest in. Do this a few times but not too many unless you’ve allowed plenty of over hang which I’ll go into more detail in the article.
Once your satisfied that you have a deep enough kerf, place your saw in it and very lightly pull back whilst maintaining an upright vertical position. Use the saws reflection to judge by eye if your vertical or not. I’m refraining from using the word “perfectly” vertical. I know it’s not possible to be perfectly anything working by hand so do the best you can and try and be 90° to the surface.
Tip: If you need aid use a small square and lean your saw onto it as you pull back.
Repeat this two or three times and start sawing. Remember you bodies posture to ensure your keeping your saw straight. Don’t force the saw and don’t press down either. Let the weight of the saw do it’s job. Always keep an eye on both ends, another words stop periodically sawing and check to see if you are straight. The first 1/8″ is the most critical, if you get that right then the saw will continue to be straight throughout the rest of the cut. Unfortunately what I just said only applies when your sawing the cheeks and not to the shoulder. The cheek is the longest part and the material has sandwiched the saw which is serving as a helping hand to keep your cuts accurate. You can still stuff up though and wonder in the cut so keep your wits about you at all times.
Your saw will tell you if you begin to wander off your line, that’s the beauty of hand tools. The saw will begin to hang or bind in the cut, that’s an indication that you moved or are moving off the line.
You’re also need to clean out the dust between the teeth as you periodically stop to check on your progress, and don’t forget to blow out as much dust from the kerf as you can. Oil or use candle wax a gazillion times to make sawing easier. Remember the saw plate is sandwiched and there is a lot of friction going on.
As you can see in the picture below I’m 32nd off the line and straight as a ruler. I’ll finish it with a small shoulder plane. In fact this method is no different to when your make a knife wall for your crosscuts.
That is nice and straight. If you don’t achieve that first go, don’t fret too much over it as I don’t make perfect cuts all day everyday. We do stuff up and it’s all fixable. Remember though “practice makes permanent.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about read the second issue.
In the picture below you repeat the same for the cheeks as you did for the shoulder.
There will always be a need to clean things up with a shoulder or rabbet plane. You can even use a block plane and then finish it off with a chisel.
The point is though that you’ve cut down on a lot of cleaning and rabbeting woes using this method. It’s fool proof in my view, but that’s my view and probably you have a different opinion or better yet, a much better method of executing this operation.
In case you do don’t hesitate to offer your suggestment. I’m always open to learn a better way of doing things or just learning something new.