Moulding plane trivia

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steve355

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Here’s something “interesting” I’ve stumbled on recently. Many people know that the finial of moulding plane wedges changed shape from a rounded shape to a more crescent shape in the mid-1800s. I always thought this was simply fashion. Out with the old, in with the new etc.

Left = old style and arguably more beautiful
Right = new and arguably less beautiful

IMG_4678.jpeg


However, something else happens at this time in history. Skew mortise breasts came in. Virtually all moulding planes after about 1850 seem to have this as a feature. See below an example of a Buck torus bead with a skew mortise at the front, but a square bed. There are good technical reasons for this feature, including, no doubt, marketing.

IMG_4680.jpeg


Recently I started making a few skew rebate planes. When I came to make the wedges, it became pretty clear that it isn’t practical to make a skew-front wedge with a round finial. You inevitably end up planing the edge off.

IMG_4679.jpeg


The solution? Squash the wedge finial as per the wedge on the right.

And not a lot of people know that.

See, told you you’d be amazed. You’re welcome.
 
Here’s something “interesting” I’ve stumbled on recently. Many people know that the finial of moulding plane wedges changed shape from a rounded shape to a more crescent shape in the mid-1800s. I always thought this was simply fashion. Out with the old, in with the new etc.

Left = old style and arguably more beautiful
Right = new and arguably less beautiful

View attachment 175433

However, something else happens at this time in history. Skew mortise breasts came in. Virtually all moulding planes after about 1850 seem to have this as a feature. See below an example of a Buck torus bead with a skew mortise at the front, but a square bed. There are good technical reasons for this feature, including, no doubt, marketing.

View attachment 175434

Recently I started making a few skew rebate planes. When I came to make the wedges, it became pretty clear that it isn’t practical to make a skew-front wedge with a round finial. You inevitably end up planing the edge off.

View attachment 175435

The solution? Squash the wedge finial as per the wedge on the right.

And not a lot of people know that.

See, told you you’d be amazed. You’re welcome.
But did you know that before, or rediscover the necessity of whilst making the wedge? I love those ah-ha moments when something becomes clear.
 
But did you know that before, or rediscover the necessity of whilst making the wedge? I love those ah-ha moments when something becomes clear.
No, I didn’t know, and it’s only a theory, but it’s one of those Sherlock Holmes things where the facts line up and it can’t really be anything else. I guess I posted it here because I’m sat on my own in the shed playing with this stuff, and my wife is not interested, to put it mildly.

Interestingly the modern plane makers who sell mostly hollows and rounds don’t make skewed mortises, I’d guess mainly because they are tricky to do by machine. And modern punters don’t understand the benefit, which is real, but marginal unless your day job is making things with moulding planes, which is literally nobody these days.
 
Some of my skewed planes have the wedge top skewed as well but having just had a look it might be that you need to increase the wedge depth.
On mine with a square finial the lowest side of the wedge skew is at least in line with the top of the wedge.
Cheers,Andy
 
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Some of my skewed planes have the wedge top skewed as well but having just had a look it might be that you need to increase the wedge depth.
On mine with a square finial the lowest side of the wedge skew is at least in line with the top of the wedge.
Cheers,Andy
Interesting, isn’t it.

Here are a couple ….

Griffiths sash moulder, skew front, flat bed, square finial. You can see the finial has been cut to just miss the skew.

IMG_4689.jpeg


Tyzack skew rabbet, slightly skewed finial. But neither finial is the round style. Basically, anything to avoid doing what I did and slicing the edge off a round finial. I reckon the rabbet maker chafed the finial slightly (probably on purpose) and tidied it up with a file.

IMG_4690.jpeg
 
Hi Steve. This is an interesting post that got me examining my 18th century collection. I was surprised that out of about 120 18th century moulders, I could only find about 4 that had a notable skew. John Rogers of London 1734- 1765, was an early example. As Andy pointed out, they appear to leave more meat in the lower end of the wedge to accommodate the round profile of the wedge, but they also skew the profile of the finial. I also checked out my 18th century Moving fillisters, and dado planes which by there very nature are almost always skewed. As with the moulding planes, the round finials are skewed.
 
Hi Steve. This is an interesting post that got me examining my 18th century collection. I was surprised that out of about 120 18th century moulders, I could only find about 4 that had a notable skew. John Rogers of London 1734- 1765, was an early example. As Andy pointed out, they appear to leave more meat in the lower end of the wedge to accommodate the round profile of the wedge, but they also skew the profile of the finial. I also checked out my 18th century Moving fillisters, and dado planes which by their very nature are almost always skewed. As with the moulding planes, the round finials are skewed.
Again, really interesting.

So, the “technical innovation” that seems to have occurred is this…. And if you have a collection I’d be really interested to know how it fits with those you have. I don’t have a “collection” so much as a load of planes I’ve acquired one way or another, so I am not clear on the dates.

This relates to the square bed/skewed breast variety, such as my Buck torus bead (and many others)….

IMG_4691.jpeg


The wedge has a skewed front and a finial cut square to accommodate the skew front

IMG_4692.jpeg


But…. The wedge also has a skew *back*. That’s the rear of the wedge I’m showing in the pic below.

IMG_4693.jpeg


This seems to have at least two functions, first, it holds the tang firmly against the blind side of the mortise. Which is definitely where you want it. It prevents lateral movement.

IMG_4695.jpeg


Plus, you can see below where the contact with the iron actually occurs…. Towards the centre of the bit - and away from the mortise edge. This is great for planemakers, because if the mortise is even slightly undercut on the blind side, pressure on the blind side edge causes the bit to rise up on the right and unbed itself. It’s probably good for the overall stability of the iron too - having the pressure closer to the centre.

IMG_4694.jpeg


And I reckon the skew on the mortise provides an “equal and opposite” diagonal force, when the wedge is set in the mortise, to make sure this system works properly…..

BCFFA89D-9976-4ECA-9327-E62222179E69.jpeg


Most of my non-skew planes, which are probably mid-late 1800s and early 1900s, seem to work like this. So, if you have an early collection, does this feature appear on them? When might it have started?

Plus, am I completely over-thinking this and talking b*******s. I’ve been researching this because it’s clearly a feature of the late-1800s planes and I’d like to replicate it in the planes I’m making, if I can.
 
Hi Steve. This is going to take some more looking into. The trouble with 18th century makers is there is not a great deal of standardisation in their design, but now I have had another look, it would appear a good majority of them have a skewed bed while the front of the mortise is square, the complete reverse of your 19th century examples. It also looks as if they may have worked a twist into the back side of the wedge as the skew varies from top to bottom. I'm not sure if this is intentional, or just sloppy workmanship, but it does look as though it might be occurring in a lot of my planes so maybe they had a reason for doing it. No matter how many times I look through my collection there is always something else to learn! Thank you for giving me something else to ponder over!
 
Hi Steve. This is going to take some more looking into. The trouble with 18th century makers is there is not a great deal of standardisation in their design, but now I have had another look, it would appear a good majority of them have a skewed bed while the front of the mortise is square, the complete reverse of your 19th century examples. It also looks as if they may have worked a twist into the back side of the wedge as the skew varies from top to bottom. I'm not sure if this is intentional, or just sloppy workmanship, but it does look as though it might be occurring in a lot of my planes so maybe they had a reason for doing it. No matter how many times I look through my collection there is always something else to learn! Thank you for giving me something else to ponder over!

I reckon that there is not much connection between skew on the breast and bed of the mortise.

If it’s on the bed of the mortise, it’s a skewed blade, and we all know what that’s for - cross grain etc.

If it’s on the breast of the mortise it’s probably as I described earlier, to help the wedge to secure the tang against the blind side. But rabbet planes have that too, and they have no blind side.

If the back of the wedge is twisted, it may have become that way over time - the bottom of the wedge is pressing against the bit, whereas the upper section is pressing sidewards against the tang.

Who knows! They don’t know how the pyramids were built either. It’s all archaeology 😀 if you come up with anything, let me know!
 
As far as I know, different mfgrs had differentpatterns on their wedges., and from my Dryburgh (Scotland/Canada) when planes were shipped it was in nocked-down, with arts labelled. for correct assembly such as in this photo
1707698477308.jpeg
1707698477308.jpeg


Them thar pencil marks are likely pushing 100 years old.
 
As far as I know, different mfgrs had differentpatterns on their wedges., and from my Dryburgh (Scotland/Canada) when planes were shipped it was in nocked-down, with arts labelled. for correct assembly such as in this photo
View attachment 175721View attachment 175721


Them thar pencil marks are likely pushing 100 years old.

Love that old handwriting style. Taught in classrooms with sash windows and sloping desks with ink wells.

In my career, I have spent a lot of time working in India. The interesting thing is, they are still taught to write English in that cursive Victorian style.
 
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