The first working moulding planes we made looked like the one below. They worked well and were easy to adjust. I was happy with the concept and eager to hear some feedback.
Here are the pros and cons of this first version compiled from all the feedback we received.
- Easier to adjust than traditional side-escapement planes;
- The tapered blade held its setting without the need for excessive pressure from the wedge;
- The full-width iron at the top meant more metal to strike so there was less chance of mushrooming the end of the blade (typical of tanged irons);
- Performed as well as traditional side-escapement planes;
- The new wedge design provided a solid, square striking surface on top and the concave fits the finger nicely when removing it;
- Felt more agile than traditional side-escapement planes;
- Were friendly to left-handed users;
- Looked very sleek and modern;
- Users liked the look of quartersawn cherry over traditional quartersawn beech.
- Edges were too hard and made the plane uncomfortable for prolonged use;
- Plane body felt a little too small and delicate;
- Acute angles where the hollow profile met the blindside bevels seemed too fragile;
- The finial atop the wedge looked prone to breakage due to short grain;
- Looked different than traditional planes;
- Without the blade flush to either side of the plane, it could not be used upright aside a vertical element (a very specialized and rarely-required function).
We analysed the data and designed version two, our current offering. (Actually, more like version 5.)
I treated these planes to a full detailing. Along the top edges, I added bevels and wrapped them around the toe and heel, terminating at elegant stop cuts. With a focus on making these planes affordable, we will be adding this detailing to planes by request.
To further increase the heft and size of the planes we increased both the height of the planes and the thickness of the cheeks. Beefing up the cheeks also resulted in stronger, more substantial blindside bevels.
We kept the wedge profile we had designed for The Hand Tool School. We have yet to see a wedge break in use, and with proper technique I don’t see this being a problem. Because our planes use tapered irons, a lot of wedging force is not required to secure the blade.
To see if there was any validity to the concern of breakage, I broke one intentionally. It took four overly-aggressive blows with a 10-1/2 oz steel hammer directly on the tip of the finial. By that time, the wedge was seated so tightly that it took many strikes to the plane’s heel to loosen. I drove the wedge in and freed it again and again. It took an average of eight heavy knocks from my 2-pound dead-blow hammer to the plane’s heel to loosen the wedge. Here is a picture of the wedge after about 40 blows from my steel hammer. It still functions fine and looks so-so.
What We Will Be Selling
Starting September 30, opening day at Woodworking In America, we will be taking orders for pairs of #6 and #8 hollow and round planes as well as rabbet planes. We will also have two packages: a set of 3 consisting of a pair of #6 planes and a rabbet plane; and a set of 5 consisting of a pair each of #6 and #8 planes and a rabbet plane. Pricing will be announced shortly.
We will be taking orders from all interested but orders for Hand Tool School students will be filled first. Click here to learn more about or join The Hand Tool School.
I love these planes – they are beautiful and feel great. I know these are good because I don’t want to let them go.