Bull Nose Plane

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Project by Tony posted 04-10-2008 11:09 AM 2946 views 8 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently needed to clean some dadoes out, but the width did not match any tools I had available.

Obi gave me some tool steel when I visited him in January, so was now the perfect time to try it out.

The plane measures 7” long, 1 3/4” high and 17mm wide (0,669”). The body is made from Beech, whilst the sole is made from Jatoba. Holding the blade in place is a simple brass thumbscrew.

The blade is ground to 22° and the bed is 20° – giving a cutting angle of 42°.

I found the plane worked extremely well for short periods of time, but the blade does not hold an edge too well. I will have to investigate that at some time in the future. All I had to do was re-hone the edge on the Tormek leather wheel, which only takes about 30 seconds, so not a huge downer.

The longest part of the operation was cutting and filing the steel – I guess the whole thing was completed in an afternoon.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

27 comments so far

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4246 days

#1 posted 04-10-2008 12:35 PM

Tony, heat the steel up with a torch if you have one, and then quench it in cold water, that ought to harden that steel some and make it hold an edge longer. I’ve even heard of guys putting steel in the oven and putting the oven on high and doing the same thing, I’ve never tried it though. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View matter's profile


210 posts in 3769 days

#2 posted 04-10-2008 12:43 PM

When I make plane irons, knife blanks etc. i usually harden the steel by taking the grates off of the bbq or firepit, toss the steel in and bury it, then leave it until red-hot. (Bluish purple as it cools)

Then I quench it in used motor oil, and start polishing. This will result in a hardness of about RC-54 to 56

-- The only easy wood project is a fire

View oliver's profile


1 post in 3698 days

#3 posted 04-10-2008 12:53 PM

its good

-- oliver potts

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4021 days

#4 posted 04-10-2008 01:48 PM

I like that Tony.
I’m going to make one too.

p.s. tool steel usually dosen’t come tempered.
You have to do that after you work it.

To add to what Mike said, if you heat the polished blade up about an inch from the cutting end and chase the yellowish brown color to the sharp edge then quench it in water or oil ( I use Corn oil) you should have a pretty hard blade.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View RAH's profile


414 posts in 3876 days

#5 posted 04-10-2008 02:25 PM

And my education continues on. Nice plan I like the idea. I never knew that is how you could harden steel. Thanks Tony for posting and everyone for answering. My addiction has been justified I will be back.

-- Ron Central, CA

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4218 days

#6 posted 04-10-2008 02:37 PM

Looks very useful!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View stanley2's profile


344 posts in 3795 days

#7 posted 04-10-2008 02:38 PM

Tony – it’s always interesting to see how a person chases a problem thru to a solution with a shop-made tool. Follow the advice given about hardening and you will be happy with the result.


-- Phil in British Columbia

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3713 days

#8 posted 04-10-2008 02:48 PM

That is cool as heck… I didn’t know how little I knew until I got on this site…

That’s a great looking plane… does it feel good in your hand when you use it?

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View waylan's profile


5 posts in 3783 days

#9 posted 04-10-2008 04:06 PM

There’s a nice writeup by Ron Hock himself here: Some thoughts on Do-It-Yourself Heat Treating of Tool Steel

Of course, to accomplish that you need to get the metal hot enough. Sure you can use the coals in a firepit etc, but a mini forge built with a coffee can and a Mapp gas or propane hand-held torch works nice too. Check these out:
Mini Gas Forge
How to Make a small Gas Furnace
Free Gas Forge Plans

There’s more than you ever needed to know about treating tool steal.

-- Waylan Limberg, Warren PA

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4236 days

#10 posted 04-10-2008 04:34 PM


View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 3741 days

#11 posted 04-10-2008 04:39 PM

That is an interesting plane. looks like just the ticket for cleaning dadoes.

If you do plan on heat treating the blade – I thought I would get my $.02 in too:

The general idea in heat treating steel is to get it above its critical temperature then freeze the molecular lattice before the carbon atoms can migrate. As Mike said, If you have a torch (rosebud) that works well if for most steels, take it beyond cherry to orange. or you can test it with a magnet or temperature stick. if the magnet doesn’t stick to it, it is ready. Quenching depends on the type of steel you have. O1 tool steel for example, the motor oil quench is perfect. Other types can be quenched in water, be careful with this. The steel can shatter like glass if cooled too quickly. also the oil can catch fire. (highly unlikely on a piece this small) I usually have a bucket handy that I can just place upside down over the oil container and smother it.) After quenching, the steel is very hard (60+ Rc), but also brittle like glass. This is were Mike’s “sticking it in the oven on high” or as Bob said by bringing the light amber / straw color back from behind the cutting edge tricks come in. These are ways of tempering it (make it tougher and less brittle – (and softer)).

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View Hawgnutz's profile


526 posts in 4076 days

#12 posted 04-10-2008 04:52 PM

Very nicely done, Tony. I am sure that fits your hand comfotably, too. You got a wealth of info on tempering the steel, so you should be able to get-r-done! It is always much more gratifying to use a tool YOU made, yourslef when working on wood, ain’t it?!?

God Bless,

-- Saving barnwood from the scrapyards

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3874 days

#13 posted 04-10-2008 08:15 PM

This is cool, Tony. What A simple solution to a problem. I know you will use this a lot. I have a “Record” (metal) bullnose/chisel plane and I use it more than any other hand tool for cleaning out the insides or corners, frames, etc. Its great for getting rid of beads of glue squeeze out inside boxes.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 3703 days

#14 posted 04-10-2008 08:30 PM

Great solution always more satisfying when you use a tool you have made yourself

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View sharad's profile


1117 posts in 3804 days

#15 posted 04-10-2008 08:33 PM

A very useful tool for cleaning dadoes. I was looking for some such means to clean a very narrow dado. I hope I can try one for it. Very nice.

-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

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