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Yesterday afternoon I began the refurbishing of my old beading plane that I “rediscovered” in my garage a few weeks back. Going into this, I don’t have high hopes to turn this tool into a precision piece of equipment that I purchased for peanuts. But I am hoping to learn more about moulding planes, as in how they work, how they are made, and what their potential happens to be.
I started by clamping the plane to the workbench and lightly sanding down any breakouts in the wood. There was some minor splintering that I managed to remove, and the boxwood does have a small chunk missing, but at the moment there is little I can do about it. I then turned my attention to the wedge, which I sanded by placing the sheets on my table saw, and going from 40 grit up to 220. I did a test fit with the sanded wedge and it was perfect, so I moved on to the iron.
Because I’ve never sharpened a profiled plane iron before, this was obviously going to be the most difficult part. I started by working on the back. I spent around 5 minutes on the diasharp with both grits, and then used the 8000 grit water stone to finish it. It definitely polished up nicely, and considering this plane is probably close to 150 years old I can live with that.
To sharpen the bevel, I once again used the diasharp and 8000 grit water stone, and just like all of my sharpening lately, I did it freehand. I’ve come to a conclusion that will contradict my earlier beliefs, but I truly think that freehand sharpening is just as easy as using a honing guide, and in some cases it is actually easier. Anyway, once I got the bevel sharp and square I used a slipstone to sharpen the actual bead. I have only one slipstone, which is a 4000 grit. That should be fine for most steel as long as it doesn’t need to be reground. In this case, I will probably have to go to a lower grit, or perhaps some sandpaper and a dowel, because I did manage to improve the bead, but it took tool long a time, and it still needs work.
I did a test bead on a piece of scrap pine and I am encouraged by the results. The shoulder of the bead is very crisp and smooth, which hopefully means that I managed to get it sharpened the way it was meant to be sharpened. The bead, on the other hand, isn’t too bad, but still needs work. The purpose of these planes was to produce profiles that would not need additional work for finish. As of now the bead would probably need a light sanding before I could apply a stain, but I’m definitely not unhappy with the effort. As I said, I believe that some 220 sandpaper wrapped around a dowel would do wonders. Now I need only to keep using the tool and learn its peculiarities, such as how tightly I should set the wedge and how thick the shavings should be. But I like the profile, it has much more character than a bead made on a router table, and its less messy and a hell of a lot quieter. If all goes well, I may just have to attempt to build one of these for myself.