Day 1, Molding Planes

We started the day jumping in pretty quick, with just some introductions along with background in ww’ing, and why we were taking the class.  For myself, I was wondering how properly tuned hollows and rounds should work, and to learn the feel of the techniques before Matt Bickford’s book comes out (apparently it has been sent to the printer already).  There were 12 poplar sticks, some very nice Bickford #6, #10 and rabbet planes, and a sticking board for each of us.  Tasty.



Our first exercise was to use the #6 round to make two parallel flutes.  While it went ok, it certainly was a little troublesome to get the flute correct.  Next we did the same thing, but with a piece of poplar with two grooves run parallel to each other.  The round ran on the arrises of until it bottomed out.  Much easier.  We followed that up with a discussion of planes to use for rabbets and their pluses and minuses.  Matt prefers the regular old rabbet plane because of its versatility.  And having fiddled with an old moving filister and the LV moving filister, it sure sounded good.  Would reality match the sales pitch?

Yup.  A decent marking gauge seemed pretty essential for this, but after that with very little practice (and the blade properly set up) it simple-simon to make accurate rabbets without a fence or a batten.  The best part–no fence to muck around with and no round arm to try to tighten down on so the fence doesn’t move on you.  I’m converted.

Moldings seem to be all about proper rabbet and chamfer creation, while minimizing the amount of use of the hollows and rounds as much as possible.  We did several other practice moldings, with the hardest being the bullnose and the cove and ovolo without a fillet between them.  Getting that transition accurate was a challenge, but I’m sure will get better with practice.

We ended the day with a discussion of sharpening a working plane.  Matt suggests oilstones because using water stones with the rounds will just result in you gouging the water stone and having to flatten off a lot of your stone.  He had an india stone, translucent arkansas and a strop w/ green honing compound, along with different sizes of slip stones for the hollows.  I have a strop, but mine is attached to a block of wood, so I’ll have to get a regular ole strop.  I already use oilstones, but one of Matt’s techniques is using the strop after each grade of stone so he can judge the next stone’s sharpening.  The mirror polish from the strop is a sharp contrast with the different stones scratch patterns (visible with the india, a matte look with the arkansas).  He also suggested we buy a cheap medium sweep gouge to practice on as the techniques as similar, but the gouge is more forgiving with mistakes since it has no profile plane sole to match.

Matt is a great teacher and willing to answer all our questions.  If he comes to teach near you, the class is worth it and a lot of fun.  We’ll be making a picture frame tomorrow.

Here’s a fuzzy shot with Matt and Gordon (from the Schwarz Hammer&Hand class last summer) showing a breakdown of the rabbets and chamfers needed for the given molding profile.

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