Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Moulding Samples

When I last posted on my expanding moulding plane shelves the better part of a year ago, I mentioned that I had created a smaller shelf for storing short samples of the mouldings cut by the various planes. I've been slowly adding to these samples and since I find them very useful, I thought I might post about them.

Here's a shot of the almost full shelves:

That lower, center shelf holds the moulding samples:

I make these out of scrap 1x2 pine, and find these useful for several reasons:

1. They allow me to see the positive moulding profile, rather than the "negative" profile on the plane itself. It's funny how different these two versions of the same profile can be - especially for a profile that I haven't used before. I always think I know what the moulding will look like, but somehow my brain never sees it quite right. It works out much better to just work with the positive version.

2. It gives me a three dimensional moulding with which to play. I can see how the light and shadows change in various orientations. The shadow lines on a piece of moulding are a major aspect of the moulding, and they can look very different depending on where the moulding is used. With the sample, I can very easily try the moulding "right-side-up" or "up-side-down" (of course these terms are pretty meaningless - but I think you get the idea). When I'm deciding on a moulding for a piece, I pull out the samples and try them out in their final position. Visualizing is good, but actually seeing it is better.

3. I can stack the samples to see how they would work in building up a compound profile. This isn't perfect, as each moulding would not have to be stuck on a 1x2, but it works well enough to get a good idea of how they would look combined.

4. I use the back of the sample to record information about the plane. I write/draw the maker's mark, the owner's marks, any indicated sizes, and anything else stamped, carved or written on the plane. Then I record the name of the profile, which is sometimes a challenge. I also make note of any quirks in the use of the plane, or reminders to sharpen the iron. Besides being interesting, these notes help me locate the plane in my growing collection.

In the future, I'd like to include the approximate age of the plane on the back of the sample. And of course, I will probably need to make another shelf for the samples, as I underestimated how much room I would need... But what else is new?


  1. I wonder if there's a 12 step program for that plane problem you have Dan.

    If you ever enter that program, and have to relieve yourself of those planes, just send them to me.

  2. Well thanks Bob, but I think the first step is admitting that there is a problem - and I don't see any problem! Except that I am going to need more shelves soon :)

  3. Well, that plane problem sure lead to an enormous plane collection. And I was thinking I had many - last time I counted it was fourteen.

    Nice idea with the positive mouldings. By the way - I haven't touched any of my Ebay-acquired moulding planes yet, because I have absolutely no idea how I should sharpen them - and they are in bad need for sharpening. Are there any secret weapons?



  4. It may necessitate redoing your shelves (for height reasons), but why not store the moulding plane on top of its respective moulding sample? Then you wouldn't have to look at a label or hunt for anything.

  5. I like Luke's idea of storing the sample right on top of the sample. It has the added benefit of keeping the plane upright.

  6. Michael - Well, once you have the shelves, you can't just leave them empty. :)

    Sharpening moulding planes can be tricky. The number one tip I can give is to go slow! It is way too easy to over do it and then you need major surgery to get back to matching the sole of the plane. First I flatten the back with my Scary Sharp set-up. Then I use a variety of dowels etc. wrapped with small strips of sandpaper to sharpen the bevel(s).

    If a previous owner messed up the iron by careless sharpening, or if the wood of the plane has shrunken over time, the profile of the iron and the profile of plane will not match, and you will need to reshape the iron. This takes a lot more time than just sharpening, and again, it is slow going: swipe, swipe, test; swipe, swipe, test. By test I mean insert the iron back in the plane, wedge it tight and visually check the shape of the iron against the sole profile. It gets tedious and the pressure to work faster builds, and every time I give in to the temptation, I mess it up! Once you get it, you'll never need to reshape it again - unless you mess it up later :)

    Oh, and if the plane has shrunk, you can sometimes rematch the profile of the sole by removing some metal from the edge of the iron - until the profile shifts back over to match. Sometimes...

    I think maybe I should do a post on this.

    Luke - Thanks for the idea. It might work great, but at this point the shelves don't have the clearance. Plus, I'm not sure if the trouble saved would equal out with the new steps of having to lift each plane to get at each sample and then return each sample to it's home. One of the things I like right now is that I can just grab them and go. It might be something to try on my next set though :)

    Steve - It is a good idea, although not all the planes will match when they are upright (many are sprung at an angle). Also, as I have been thinking about it, there might be an issue with how close the planes could sit to each other, as the samples also include an unmoulded section which would then project out to the side. Hmm. Another possibility might be to make a very shallow shelf, just for one layer of samples, under each shelf for planes. Thanks for commenting.

  7. A quick answer for Michael (or anyone else sharpening curved cutting surfaces) - Bob Rozaieski did a series of video podcasts about sharpening. Part 2 of that series ( focused on sharpening curved edges. There's some good info in that episode - in all Bob's episodes, actually!

  8. Torch02 - Good info. and I agree, all Bob's stuff is great - Thanks!

  9. Dan... you can never have too many tools...


  10. Wow, great post and comments. I am still trying to get my head around the concept of getting a Stanley No 4. If I thought about molding planes, at this juncture, my head would likely explode.

    I enjoyed reading about your collection tough.

    I also love the quality of the photographs. Correct white balance and everything. Well done.

  11. Gary - True, true, but I think there might be such a thing as too little space... :)

    ExtremelyAverage - Hey don't let that stop you!

    To paraphrase one of my favorite movies: The trick, William Potter, is not minding that your head explodes.

    Thanks for your comment - I'm glad you enjoy the blog and pictures.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.


Comment Moderation has been turned on - too much spam! Bummer.

I will get an email notification and will approve any appropriate comments ASAP.