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Thread: Old Molding Planes and the Rehab Enthusiast

  1. #1
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    Old Molding Planes and the Rehab Enthusiast

    As is often the case with metal planes, when a wooden body molding plane enters the shop, it is usually in need of some TLC before going to work. Some have expressed interest in knowing more about the process of bringing an old molding plane back to a usable state.

    I am just a beginner when it comes to working on wooden planes but I'm happy to share what I have learned. Over time I hope to be able to add more to this thread and hope others will also add their experience.

    The images used to illustrate this post will be of various planes. So if a blade and sole do not seem to match between shots, it is because they are from different planes.

    Also a tip that might help is to not disassemble more than one plane at a time if you do not have a way of keeping the components together. Getting a bunch of wedges mixed up can make for a lousy day.

    Depending on where one finds a molding plane it may have different characteristics. Usually in an antique shop they will be cleaner than something that was in a box in a barn. Some of the planes in my accumulation were coated in shellac to look good in an antique store or were coated with tallow, sweat or oil by a previous owner.

    Dirty & Clean.jpg

    My first step is to wipe off the dust if the plane is dirty. There is an old rag in my shop that is mostly used for wiping blades after they have been honed on an oilstone. The rag is near saturation with mineral oil. This works for me for cleaning dust and other crud off of old wooden planes. A clean rag with mineral oil would also work as would any number of other wood cleaning materials. I like to use materials with wax or oil as most of the old planes that have come my way could use a little of the rejuvenation oil and wax offer.

    After a preliminary wipe down the wedge and blade are removed.

    Blade & Wedge Removal.jpg

    Here my grip is focused mostly on the blade and iron with a light hold on the plane body. The plane is held an inch or two above the bench to prevent it from falling to the floor. Start with light taps and check to see if the blade or wedge are working loose. If light taps are insufficient use a stronger swing of the mallet. Often the blade will become loose and can be removed before the wedge can be extracted. The wedge may have swollen over time or if it was given a clear coat causing it to be slightly stuck.

    In severe cases I have clamped the wedge in a wood faced vise and carefully tapped on the back of the plane.

    In extreme cases most of the blades in old molding planes are tapered. It may be possible to loosen the blade by tapping on the tang to drive it out of the plane's mouth.

    Check the wedge and blade mortise for dirt and clean as needed. More on this latter

    Only a few of the planes that have come my way didn't have a bit of pitting with which to contend.

    Blade Back the Pits.jpg

    Unless you find a plane that was kept in a dry environment there is likely to be some rust or pitting on the blade.

    The flat disk on the Mk.II Power Sharpening system is a natural for working on blade backs. Other methods are as abundant as there are ways to sharpen.

    Working the Back.jpg

    The sides are also given some attention. If a blade works along the edge like a rabbet plane or hollows & rounds, they will have a bevel on the edge.

    Just the Beginning - Pit Clean Up.jpg

    A little bit of grinding makes quite an improvement. There is still a lot to do including the shaping.

    I have not found many molding planes with optimum blade shaping. Most of them are also somewhat dull.

    Blade & Sole.jpg

    Obtaining a clear picture of this is difficult. It is possible to see the blade is extended more in the concave area than the convex part of the curve. This will require some care in reshaping the blade.

    Blade in Vise & Stone.jpg

    If you are going to use molding planes or gouges, you will need some slip stones or other way of working on irregular shapes. Abrasive paper on dowels can do some of the work.

    Oil Slip & Other Stones.jpg

    I also have another set in water stones.

    Looks like this will have to be continued on another page if I want to add more images.

    To be continued…

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  2. #2
    Thanks for posting this nup, I would like to get started with using a few of these.

  3. #3
    Jim,

    Over the years I have run rehab a few molding planes. I follow the same procedure you are using, except I normally use Turpentine, I will have to try the mineral oil (I'm shure it better on the hands).One of the most important thing that I learned is to take a straight edge with you when you purchase them. A slightly warped plane can be very difficult to put back in working order. Also as we all know most of the planes are bedded for soft wood, as miles of molding were cut for architectural work as opposed for the few feet that went on furniture. In our area finding planes bedded at 50* or higher is difficult.

    I truly believe rehabbing or making a plane helps one understand better how this deceptively simple looking tool works. This helps you to better understand how to use it.

    Great thread.

  4. #4
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    On almost all my hollow and round planes and the rebates that I have rehabbed, the sole just behind the mouth is higher then just before the mouth. That makes the plane difficult to work with. I usually rehab the round plane first and straighten the sole, then use that plane to repair the corresponding hollow.

  5. #5
    +1 Kees it's a great way to clean up one plane sole from another.
    Dave Anderson
    Chester Toolworks LLC
    Chester, NH

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Murray Ohio View Post
    I normally use Turpentine, I will have to try the mineral oil (I'm shure it better on the hands). One of the most important thing that I learned is to take a straight edge with you when you purchase them.
    I use the mineral oil rag because it happens to be laying around. Don't even have to look for the container and open it. Not sure I would want to keep a rag soaked in Turpentine laying around.

    There is another rag with furniture polish on it that is used when the plane is closer to done.

    The straight edge is also a great idea. I am still pretty good at eyeballing them as long as I remember to use my left eye. My right eye has a slight astigmatism.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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    Wedge Issues

    Before there were cap irons or chip breakers there were wedges. One of the things a wedge must do is divert the shaving so the mouth of the plane will not clog.

    Here is a fairly decent wedge:

    Good Wedge.jpg

    There is a little damage at the end, but it will be easy to repair. This is a dado plane and the blade is not all the way in to working position. The wedge has a shallow angle to help lift the shaving and angles to the side to divert the shaving out the escapement.

    Here is a wedge that looks bad from the get go:

    Bad Wedge.jpg

    It appears to have been cut a bit short and has more of a blunt end. Before making a new wedge this one was given a go to see if it could be turned into a good wedge.

    I wanted to show the full plane as it doesn't appear to be in the English style. The other hint that it may be from the continent is the marking on the back specifies it as 18mm. If my memory is working metrification didn't start in earnest within Great Britain until the 1960s. Besides, the plane looks a bit more Ruboesque.

    Wedge Issue.jpg

    Here is a closer look:

    Wedge Issue Close Up.jpg

    When this happens the shaving will have to be cleaned out before taking another shaving. If a longer piece is being worked it might not be possible to get to the end before any new shaving has no place to go. It can consume a lot of energy to make an accordion shaving.

    Before doing anything else, this wedge was tight side to side and would get stuck in the plane body without a blade. The blade/wedge mortise was checked and the sides were cleaned up with a very light rasp (Auriou grain 15). When those were straight a test fitting indicated it was still tight. The wedge was set against a stop and a smoothing plane with a sharp blade was used to take off a few thousandths at a time until the fit felt right. The wedge should be free moving, but not loose enough to rattle from side to side.

    Before making a new wedge I wanted to give this one a chance at redemption:

    Reshaping the Wedge.jpg

    The intent is to make the angle less blunt. A bit of paring with a chisel made it a bit better:

    Getting Better.jpg

    The shavings do come out the side more often but there are still some jams. Before making a new wedge I want to get the blade properly shaped:

    Blade Needs Some Work.jpg

    There are still a few spots on the blade that need a bit of work to get the shaping correct.

    To be continued...

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 03-21-2016 at 9:36 PM. Reason: Wording, Spelling & all the usual suspects
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  8. #8
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    Hi Jim and all,

    This looks like it is going to be a really good topic. I have read it so far with great interest, as I think wooden molding planes are something very useful for me to learn about. Right now I have only actually handled a tiny number at an antique shop, but had no idea what to look for to know if the plane was a good one. I will guess that there are quite a few Neanders that are like me...very green on the old woody molding planes.

    At any rate, Jim, thanks for the first post, and also thanks to the rest of you who have also chimed in. The information is very much appreciated, and I think it is of value to me, and I would guess to others as well.

    Right now I don't have a shop, and don't have much room for storing any woody's, so it will be a while until I can buy one....time to get to work on my shop when the time situation begins to look better.

    Thanks and regards,

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 03-21-2016 at 10:25 PM.

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    If you need any strips of Boxwood to replace parts, let me know.
    Last edited by Tom M King; 03-21-2016 at 11:02 PM.

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    Wow, I have been busy since last posting on this. Have had a few minutes here and there to work a little more on the blade on this plane.

    Three big trees were cut down in my pasture yesterday. Now I have to figure out how my neighbor and I can get them milled. He has a lot of trees he took down on his property. Watching Mark cut down trees was worth the price of admission. He cut the last one to fall in a fairly narrow area. Maybe I should post the video.

    In watching some videos on line another way of blade and wedge release was learned. The person in the video held the wedge and blade secure while thumping the front end of the plane sharply on his bench. The more ways one knows the better.

    A close up of how things were last left off may help:

    Before Corrective Honing.jpg

    The quirk is a bit ragged at the top. Looking close reveals an uneven transition in the blade.

    It is penciled here with the blade to identify the location:

    Finding Bad Areas.jpg

    The cause may be due to previous honing attempts:

    Poor Honing at Transition.jpg

    The bump in the blade may actually cause an area without enough relief angle as part of the problem. There is also a bump that can be seen in some of the images from previous posts.

    With great care it isn't difficult to correct an edge:

    Grinding Transition Area.jpg

    Care must be taken to avoid hitting the far edge of the blade against the grinding surface. After the grinder it is on to the stones for fine honing. Here a water stone is being used:

    Working One Point On Edge.jpg

    Three of my water stone slips are 1000, 4000 & 8000 grit. If you are going to use wooden molding planes these three or a similar set in oil are needed. It is possible to use sandpaper on dowels and shaped wood, but that grows old fast if one has more than a few blades to keep sharp.

    Slight Flat for Quirk.jpg

    The edge farthest from the fence was ground to a point. This may be part of the cause of the roughness in the first image. The edge also didn't have any bevel so that was also corrected:

    Edge Beveling.jpg

    The performance has been greatly improved:

    Looking Good.jpg

    There is still a little bit of work honing the blade to get it evened out. At this point that can be taken care of over the next few times the blade needs honing.

    My earlier thoughts on this plane is it would need a new wedge made. It seems with the adjustments made to the wedge earlier and the work on the blade the plane can finish the job without the shavings jamming. Guess I need to find a plane in need of a new wedge to cover that angle.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 05-22-2016 at 5:16 PM. Reason: wording
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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    I forgot to mention dykem blue. Some like to paint a blade with dykem blue and then scratch the outline as a guide for grinding. I just go by eye. It might work to use dykem blue and then take some shavings to find high spots on the blade. I haven't tried that.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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    Hi Jim,

    The "after" picture is much improved. Good job.

    Stew

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    Hey Jim,

    You got me thinking. I've got a box of old molding planes (I think 11 of them) none of which have irons. If you would be interested I will send them to you. Some are very old. Let me know

    Chuck

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hart View Post
    Hey Jim,

    You got me thinking. I've got a box of old molding planes (I think 11 of them) none of which have irons. If you would be interested I will send them to you. Some are very old. Let me know

    Chuck
    Chuck,

    I just stepped in to take off my shoes. Will send you a PM later.

    Thanks,

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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    Thank you for taking the time to put this Jim. I must have missed it the first time around.

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