Hollows & Rounds John Moseley & Sons Moulding planes Practical techniques Snipe bill

Making your own moulding planes

Jeff Murray, a reader of the blog from Greenwood, Indiana got in touch about John Moseley moulding planes. Moseley planes are also a favourite of mine. They are very well-made 19thc planes with sharp boxing and a nice wedges. Jeff talked about using the Moseley design when he made his own half-set. The pic below shows Jeff’s plane (top) with one of his vintage Moseley’s below.
moulding plane comparison
I’ve read quite a bit about the techniques involved in making your own hollows and rounds, but Jeff makes it sound very easy. I’m sure it’s not quite easy as this, but here are some notes he sent to me. Jeff reckons on around $8 apiece for making a moulding plane and about 5 hours to make them himself, instead of $200+ to buy them new.

moulding planes
I started out to make maybe 3 sets of hollows and rounds, but ended up making a half set minus the #4 hollow of John Moseley and 2 snipes bill boxed with osage orange. I don’t recommend anyone use osage for boxing because it is really gnarly, but it did succumb to sandpaper. I am planning on making a few side beads and a set of side rounds. I have a number of irons that I got off of eBay, but I’m not reluctant to make my own irons, which I did during the construction of the half set of moulding planes.
It isn’t as difficult as one might imagine to make a moulding plane. I bought a DVD by Tod Herrli on making moulding planes, however he does a few things that require extra work. For instance, he marks all of his layout lines on the beech blank and cuts half of them off only to redraw them. There are a few other things that he does that are a bit unusual also. I got a few pointers from his DVDS, but ended up with using my own methods when they made more sense.

The moulding planes were really neat to make especially since I made 11 of the irons from scratch using an angle grinder. Believe me, my angle grinding skills greatly improvided by doing this. I cut out the blanks and tapered them with the angle grinder and then used files to finish them. The total cost of materials was $144 to make 17 moulding planes and 2 snipes bills. The hardest thing to make on the moulding plane is the tapered mortise and that isn’t all that difficult. In fact that is probably 75% of the work. The “blacksmithing” isn’t that difficult either because you are working with relatively small parts. My blacksmithing consists of a propane torch, a metal container of motor oil to harden the irons and finally a toaster oven or regular oven to temper.

(The pics below show the progress of a pair of side snipes.)
rebate plane for boxing
inserting boxing
trimming boxing
shaping snipe bills
You might notice that the boxing is protruding out both ends of the plane. This feature allows me to do a final trimming to make the plane a “perfect length”. The boxing that I used was Osage Orange, native to North America, a very hard, bright orange wood and capable of receiving a fine polish and with a speciic gravity of 773,6 kg/m3. I used this because I just happened some and thought that it would make a good boxing material. However, I don’t recommend it because the grain twisted and turns and is hard to machine. It does however behave when sanded.  The final edge was 0.015 inches (0.38 mm) and using 1000 grit sandpaper, wrapped around a dowel, I was able to produce a mirror like surface.

In the video by Todd Herrli, he advocates using laminated stock for the body of the planes and if you do some research, you will find that this isn’t recommended. The theory is that the wood won’t properly breathe because the glue layer impedes the moisture and this can cause cracking or splitting.  So I stayed with the quarter sawn solid beech that has been the tried and true method for a couple of centuries or so.  As I said before, he also marks his layout lines on his stock and then planes half of them off just to then redo them, which seems like a waste of time in my opinion. Todd’s video does have some good information about making the irons, from shaping to the hardening and tempering process.

grinding blade
I thought that might like to see the picture is my high precision jig for tapering the iron. You can see that this scrap piece of lumber was previously used as a backer board for drilling through holes and probably a couple of other things. This is one of the irons that I cut out of a piece of tool steel with a cut off wheel on my angle grinder and then changed to a grinding wheel to taper the tang. I used water to occasionally cool the steel when it started to discolor.  “Bluing” of the iron is of no consequence at this point in the process, that can all be taken out when it is hand filed to the final shape.

(Note from Admin.Caleb james is also giving away some very nice wooden plane plans for free. Click here.)

Practical techniques Record

How to fit a Record vice

Last year I had a rush of Record 52 1/2 vices for sale and they all went in a week. It’s testament to how wonderful these quick release vices are. if you find a good one, keep it, I kept two from the batch for my own future workshop! I’ve lost count of how many conversations I’ve had about mounting these excellent vices, but this explanation turned up in a recent book I purchased, Scott Landis’s excellent ‘The Workbench Book’.
He covers four ways of fitting the vices, edge mount, flush mount, flush mount behind apron and mortised mount. I’ve reproduced the drawings and copy to help anyone who is struggling with this. (I hope I won’t get emails from Collins about copyright, if I do, this will have to disappear quickly). My own book is a vintage secondhand edition, so in the spirit of Stewart Brand’s ‘access to tools’ (praise the Lord, for Brand is God), I hope they will respect my wish to get the information out there to help as many people as possible.

(Text and images from Scott Landis’s ‘The Workbench Book’)

There’s more to hanging a Record (or similar vice) than simply bolting it to the bench.To work properly it must be straight level with the top and secure. At the very least, once the vice position is decided, you must accurately bore four holes, attach the mounting bracket (which is a single casting with the rear jaw) and add word cheeks. But there are several fine points and a variety of mounting options to consider, as shown below.
The rear jaw may be mounted onto the edge of the bench top (Fig.1), inset flush with the edge (Fig.2), set behind an apron (Fig.3), or mortise into the underside of the bench (Fig.4). If the working surface of the rear jaw is the front edge of the bench top (Figs. 3 and 4), it will be easy to add additional clamps to secure a long board to the bench. On the other hand, if the cheek protrudes (Figs. 1 and 2), irregularities on the stock won’t strike the bench top edge and make it difficult to close the vice jaws.
Which vice-mounting method you choose depends on the thickness of your bench top, the shape of the edge and your own preference. Here are some other considerations to make vice installation easier and vice operation more effective.

Record Vice Fitting _1
Record Vice Fitting _2
Record Vice Fitting _3
Record Vice Fitting _4

  1. When positioning the vice, make sure that when the vice is closed, the screw and guide bars will not interfere with any dog holes or with the legs of the bench.
  2. Fitting the rear jaw/bracket to the bench will be easier if you turn the bench top upside down on it’s edge. If this is not possible, you can remove the front jaw of the vice along with the lead screw and guide bars to reduce the weight whilst fitting.
  3. Unless your bench top is unusually thick, you will have to insert a spacer between the mounting bracket and the underside of the bench. This can be made out of hardwood, plywood or mdc, or built up out of 1/4″, or 1/8″ tempered Masonite, or similar material.
  4. Size the spacers to position the top of the rear jaw about 1/2″ to 3/4″ below the top surface of the bench. This allows for periodic resurfacing of the bench top. (The wooden cheeks should be flush with the top.)
  5. If you let the rear jaw of the vice into the front edge of the underside of the bench, allow a 1/16″ gap above the casting. The spacer is bound to compress when you attach the vice, and this gap will close. Without the gap, the wood may buckle above the jaw and have to be planed off. (A snug fit on the sides of the rear jaw helps position the vice.)
  6. To hang the vice, use either 3/” bolts or lag screws. Bolts provide a more positive fixing (Fig.1), but their heads must be countersunk beneath the top surface and the holes should be plugged. (The square shank beneath the head of a carriage bolt will strip the wood after several installations, so I prefer to use machine bolts and lock washers.) Lag screws work well (Fig.2), but make sure that you size and bore the pilot holes carefully, and don’t remove the vice more often than necessary. Lag screws and machine bolts maybe be combined using an enlarged spacer (Fig.3), which strengthens the fixing.
  7. Metal vice jaws should always be covered to protect your work and the edges of your tools: 3/4″ to 1″ thick hardwood is fine. You can make these cheeks wider than the metal jaws to extend their clamping capacity, but bear in mind that the farther you clamp away from the centre screw the more the vice will rack out of square. For a neater job (and more protection), the wooden cheeks can also be routed to fit around the top and sides of the front jaw (Fig.1). Allow about 1/2″ of space between the tops of the guide rods and the bottom of the cheeks so that veneer edges or mouldings can fit between them.
  8. if you let the rear jaw into the front edge, wood must be rooted away to the exact thickness of the casting. If too much wood is removed, the wooden cheek will dish. If not enough i.e.s removed, there will be a gap at the top between the cheek and the front edge of the bench. Sawdust will work its way in and wedge the cheek away from the bench.
  9. The Record and Paramo vices are designed to make contact first along the top edge of the jaws. This ‘toe-in’ should be retained for a better grip. If your vice jaws are parallel, you can create your own ‘toe-in’ by tapering the wooden cheeks.
  10. To make it easy to align work vertically in the vice, inlay thin pieces of veneer in the top of the front cheek. These should lie at a right angle to the outside edges of the guide rods. Work can be quickly installed in the vice by pushing it against the guide rod and alleging it with the veneer on top.
Planes Practical techniques

The Skottbenk

I found this wonderful post about the ‘skottbenk’ over on Roald Renmaelmo’s website the other day. The skottbenk is an almost forgotten type
of Norwegian bench, (actually, it’s more a massive ‘sticking board‘ with two large ‘Moxon-vice’ type boards that clamp the long stuff and hold it vertically. It’s essentially a standalone version of having your long board clamped against the apron of your Nicholson bench.
The difference is, that with a custom bench plane called a ‘skottokse’, you can raise the board to a depth you know will be shot once the plane reaches its set depth. The plane has a rebated iron, with deeper sides which work as depth stops, just the same as your moulding plane bottoms out when finishing those ovolo’s.
It all makes a lot of sense in the video, and for those struggling with perfecting their form with a Stanley No.7, or unable to afford (or want) a machine jointer, it’s food for thought!

Addition: I asked Roald about where I could buy the ‘skottokse’, the planes with a rebated central slot and he kindly pointed me to a very nice tutorial on making one yourself.

Chris Wong Measuring & marking

Gauge modification

Chris Wong has a got a nice mod over on Flair Woodworks. A simple modification to stop his marking gauge rolling off the bench and hitting the floor. By filing down the round profile, you get an octagonal, heptagonal, (you choose), shape that doesn’t roll quite so easily.
It’s a nice tweak and I guess if you have one of these gauges, pretty easy to do.
With regards to gauges, I’m with Paul Sellers. I like the old mortice gauges and have always found the standard pins give a fantastic result for marking. Not only that, they are easily sharpened and replaced. Like most things in life these days, these new gauges come with the need to keep buying new cutters. Get yourself an old-style gauge, make sure it has good pins, then really you can’t go wrong.