Building a new molding plane
Recently I needed a router bit that I did not have. I looked at my favorite router bit store and they had nothing in the size I needed. So, I was left with no real alternative but to build a plane in that profile… right? (it sounded good in my head anyway)
I saw a plane like this a while ago for sale on the internet and I thought, “how hard could it be?”. Weirdly, it was not actually all that hard. I had an old stanley blade and some cutting wheels for my dremel so I found a few maple scraps and went for it. Some days are just good shop days I had the plane to the shape you see it on the right in just over 3 hours. (I fiddled around for two hours looking for a router bit, just for the sake of comparison.)
That would be the end of the story but it turns out that building the plane to this point was really just the beginning. What I learned is that a plane with a standard top ejection system does not work all that well when you reduce the width of the blade down to the sizes used in smaller molding planes. This plane has a 3/8″ wide cambered blade and when I started to actually use it I learned very quickly why almost all molding planes of this sort have a giant hole drilled through the side. The plane as shown above was almost impossible to keep from fouling. So my initial success was not good enough to really use. It looked like I had to risk a whole afternoons work to try and salvage this project. So I went for my forstner bit and hoped for the best.
It really was a good shop day because just eyeballing the placement of the hole actually turned out pretty well. And now this thing is almost impossible to choke with chips. Finally I am ready to use this plane in place of the router bit I could not find.
That took me to the next thing I learned. Using a plane of this sort requires a fair bit of practice. My first attempts at making a cove in the size I needed turned out horribly. But after destroying a few useless pieces of scrap I learned how to use this plane for making a cove profile in sizes from 3/8″ to 1/2″. The secret it turns out is getting started straight and clean. Once I learned to use a fence to get started I was making consistent successful coves. I was finally able to create a respectable rule joint on the table I am working on, which was the reason I went down this road in the first place.
The construction of this plane was really very straight forward, it is just a Krenov style plane with a rounded bottom. After the success of this plane I plan on making a couple more of these in some other sizes. Curiously the other thing I learned is that I do not need hollow planes as much as I thought I did. I was able to make the bead portion of the rule joint with nothing more than a rebate plane. So for the time being rounds are in and hollows can wait. The blades for hollow planes are really hard to grind and sharpen anyway.