Help with moulding planes suggested reading

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Forum topic by mds4752 posted 11-10-2014 06:29 PM 881 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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48 posts in 1126 days

11-10-2014 06:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: moulding planes plane

Hello all,

Teetering on the brink of falling into another woodworking rabbit hole…this one for using wooden moulding planes.

Before I dive too far in, I wanted to see if anyone has any suggested articles or books to read that would capture the basic tuning, usage and sharpening of these planes. I am not wanting to learn how to make these planes. If possible, I’d rather find a few good articles as opposed to buying $40 books or DVDs.

My goal is to have a few basic planes on hand that I can use for treating the edges of various furniture pieces or possibly some picture frames.

I have seen a book written by MS Bickford which seems like a good possibility, but I haven’t seen much else.

Any help or advice is much appreciated.


-- "Live each day as if it were your last; one day you're sure to be right." -- Lt Harry "Breaker" Morant

8 replies so far

View Loren's profile


8155 posts in 3064 days

#1 posted 11-10-2014 06:36 PM

Look for a set of cock bead planes. That’s all you need
to get started. I used to have a set of 4 or 5 I
collected from ebay. I liked them but honestly
never used them and sold them in a move. Be
aware that moulding planes work best on
the most cooperative of woods so stock selection
is important and anything harder than walnut is
likely to be tricky to get good results with.

Just my opinion of course.

Scratch beaders, while less elegant than moulding
planes, can accomplish tasks you wish a moulding
plane could do but won’t.

My only hand plane book is the Garrett Hack one.
It’s somewhat coffee-table-ish. I read it once
and that’s all I needed to know from it really. I
guess I’ve looked something up in it once in

View Loren's profile


8155 posts in 3064 days

#2 posted 11-10-2014 06:45 PM

View Don W's profile

Don W

17868 posts in 1984 days

#3 posted 11-10-2014 09:32 PM

I don’t have it yet, but its been recommended to me a lot, so its on my wisg list,

Making Traditional Wooden Planes

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View upchuck's profile


540 posts in 1081 days

#4 posted 11-10-2014 11:23 PM


You are looking for information about moulding planes. I agree with Don W’s recommendation. Yeah I know you don’t want to make them but the design and making of them will give you a good idea of what to look for when buying them.

Dunbar’s book about old tool restoration gives good information on what to look for when purchasing wooden planes in general and moulding planes in particular.

I too have heard good things about the Bickford book.

Old Street Tools has a few articles about wooden and moulding planes on their web site.

I’ll bet that your local public library has a book or two that may be helpful. Or better yet I’ll bet that they can order any book you want from some other library and have it delivered to them for you to check out. Inter-library loans have made many obscure and valuable books available to me.

Good Luck.


View Loren's profile


8155 posts in 3064 days

#5 posted 11-10-2014 11:52 PM

I have made 5 or 6 planes and found it instructive.

However if the end goal is making furniture pieces and
money is more available than time to make tools,
the informed purchasing and tuning of classic, proven
tools seems a good middle ground.

View mds4752's profile


48 posts in 1126 days

#6 posted 11-12-2014 12:21 AM

Thanks for all the tips gents. I’ve looked at the book by Dunbar online and am thinking about picking it up.

So far, I only have 1 hollow / round mismatched pair and a 1/2” side bead, with a 3/16” side bead on the way. I think I’ll stop there and try to figure out how to tune, sharpen and set these up. Then, if I can figure all that out, I’ll see about adding some more planes.

So far, it’s been pretty frustrating trying to do this with zero experience or a ‘coach’ or even a reference book. But, the school of hard knocks shall prevail!!!


-- "Live each day as if it were your last; one day you're sure to be right." -- Lt Harry "Breaker" Morant

View AKwoodwkr's profile


7 posts in 1201 days

#7 posted 11-13-2014 01:48 AM

Its all about condition, and there a lot of good usable moulding planes out there. Buy in person or form a reputable dealer who knows and uses them. Lee Richmond at the best things and Josh Clark at Hyperkitten are probably the best sources. Yes, you will pay a bit more than e-bay, but you are guaranteed to get a good usable plane. I have bought a few planes from Josh, that only required a light honing to use. If the body is warped they will never work, stay away from them. If buying in person, look for undamaged throats, and wedges, damage causes shavings to jam. A common issue that occurs is that the body shrinks over the years, but of course the iron doesn’t, so the iron profile no longer matches the sole profile. These must match exactly for the plane to work. Never rework the sole, always rework the iron. To do this, I flatten the back of the iron if it needs it, paint it with Dychem layout fluid and insert the plane so it projects a little beyond the sole. Use a sharp scribe and scribe the profile of the sole onto the back of the iron. I use a dremel tool with mounted points to grind grind the iron at 90 degrees to the scribe line. It may take numerous iterations of marking the profile and grinding to get it right. It need to be near perfect to work. You also need to be sure that the entire cutting edge projects past the sole the same distance. Otherwise some parts of the profile will not cut unless you set the iron really rank and then some areas will cut too deeply. Using those mounted points, I then grind the bevel (clearance angle) in at about 25 degrees, then use slip stones to hone.

I prefer British planes as I think many were made to a higher standard,and many are bedded at york pitch or even higher. This is a real boon when working hardwoods and reversing grain. These are plentiful so I usually don’t buy anything bedded lower that 50 degrees.

For a first plane look for ovolo or other simple profile in a plane with a deep fence. The deep fence really helps when you are learning to use them.

Lee Richmond has a lot of good info on his website the Best Things. Check out Don McConnell and Larry Williams DVD's, they really are worth the price.

The Bickford book is great but is really geared to using hollows and rounds.

Give moulding planes a try, they are a kick to use, and so much safer and quieter that a router.

Hope that helps

-- “It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ursula K. LeGuin

View mds4752's profile


48 posts in 1126 days

#8 posted 11-13-2014 01:44 PM

AKwoodwkr—thanks for the info. I do have a small Dremel with some bits, but have never tried it for sharpening steel/iron. I checked out the Best Things site and it does have some good info. I have also added the DVD to my Christmas Wish List! In addition, I reached out to my local woodworkers club and am asking the membership if anyone has experience using these and I’ll host them at my shop for an afternoon of coaching & refreshments. So far, I’ve only used the 1/2” side bead I bought and it’s been a lot of trial and error—mostly error. But, I’m a fan of hand tools in general and will do whatever necessary to learn something here. Thanks again. MDS

-- "Live each day as if it were your last; one day you're sure to be right." -- Lt Harry "Breaker" Morant

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