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Thread: A question about wooden side beads

  1. #1
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    A question about wooden side beads

    Hi all,

    I recently picked up a couple of wooden side bead planes (5/8" and 1") and they are vexing me. The planes are in great shape to be 100+ years old. Irons are solid with with good length left on the business end and the wedges look to be original and fit well. I have flattened the back of each iron and honed the cutting edges. The iron profile matches the plane bottom well in my opinion. Despite all of this, I cannot get the planes (either one) to cut a bead. Through several test runs on SYP, I have been able to get one of the quirks to start cutting, but the bead itself will not start unless I advance the iron to take a heavy cut. This results in having to use a lot force and one side of the iron taking a massive cut with the other side barely contacting the wood. The results have not been pretty. Since both are performing the same way, I am working under the assumption that it is operator error and not the fault of the tool. As I have learned with most hand tools, technique and setup are key in getting the tools to work properly. I am certain that I am missing something, but I cannot figure out what that "something" is in this case. For those with experience with wooden side beads, what is the "secret" to make these tools work properly? Thanks in advance.

    Tim

  2. #2
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    Howdy Tim, One of the difficult parts of using molding planes is dealing with the sharpening done by previous owners.

    The blade has to be slightly proud of the shaping of the plane's sole. The hard part is to get it equally 'proud' all around.

    An old thread on rehabbing molding planes might help > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?242156

    A few of the posts deal with blade sharpening and shaping problems. The 24th post deals with a side bead plane's unevenly sharpened blade.

    Hope this helps,

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

  3. #3
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    Tim, the two planes you have, 5/8 and one inch are rather large in my opinion. The other problem I see is you are trying to cut SYP. That can be hard to do with any hand plane unless it is super sharp. The other thing with these molding planes is that they cut best with the grain rising away from you on both intersecting faces of the board. If you are having to advance the blade to get the plane to start cutting, you should check to make sure the sole of the plane is straight. It has been my experience that there is a long learning curve to making these planes work. Lastly, as always, sharp is your friend. Bob Glenn
    Life's too short to use old sandpaper.

  4. #4
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    Put a straight edge on the bottoms, and make sure they're straight. Sight down the length of the bottom, with the sharp blade in place, and make sure it's showing a little protrusion all around the shaped bottom. Often they have a little play from side to side, and you have to get that right. If all those things align, and the iron is sharp, it has to cut.

    With ones that large, you have to take the finest of cuts. Start at the far end, and take short strokes, working back, until you can make a full pass.

    Make sure you're cutting a board edge with grain rising in front of the plane. Straight grain will work too, but rising is easier, and you need easier in YP for these large molding planes.

  5. #5
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    Jim, Bob, and Tom,

    Thanks for the pointers. As Tom and Bob mentioned, these planes are large. I do not actually have a use for them as most of my work is much too small for a 5/8 bead not mention a monstrous 1 inch bead. However, for $15 for both, I could not pass them up. I will keep tinkering on them and will switch to some red or white oak (these are the only "affordable" hard wood species I have reliable access to) for test pieces. Thanks again.

  6. #6
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    It takes a little momentum too. You can't just ease into the cut. Notice the chips in the air. These are short because of noticeably rising grain.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
    For a molding plane to work, you need the following:
    1. Sharp iron.
    2. Well-fitting wedge.
    3. Profile of the iron matches sole.
    4. Sole is flat (straight edge placed parallel to the fence will show straightness at any point on the sole).

    Since you mentioned addressing 1, 2, and 3, but not 4, my money is on 4. If you haven't trued the sole, there is zero chance it is already flat. Moreover, the symptoms you describe sound consistent with an out of flat sole.
    Most likely, it has a hump right behind the mouth. I recommend you go to Matt Bickford's blog and read about tuning hollows and rounds, then extrapolate the same procedure for side beads. You may need to use dowels, planes, or whatever you have.
    Last edited by Steve Voigt; 03-23-2020 at 3:06 PM.
    "For me, chairs and chairmaking are a means to an end. My real goal is to spend my days in a quiet, dustless shop doing hand work on an object that is beautiful, useful and fun to make." --Peter Galbert

  8. #8
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    Do you follow Matt Bickford's approach? He lays out a deeply scored mark, first so the edge of the beading iron can "settle". The transition there is deep.

    This might be the place for a "Snipe's bill".

  9. #9
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    Hi Jim,

    I did plow a groove for the edge of the iron so it would have something to "ride" in as I started the bead. I do something similar for my H&R planes when I make mouldings. Now that I think about it though, I will go back and make a slightly larger and deeper groove. If for no other reason, I am kind of curious what will happen.

  10. #10
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    I do not actually have a use for them as most of my work is much too small for a 5/8 bead not mention a monstrous 1 inch bead.
    My large side bead planes are mostly used to put a bull nose on the edge of a piece.

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

  11. #11
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    If a molding plane has a built in fence, like a side bead, I don't bother to make any kind of starting helper for it. If I'm making a lot of something, I do hog away as much as possible on the table saw.

  12. #12
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  13. #13
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    Thanks for posting this Oskar.

  14. #14
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    Don't know if this helps you but Roy Underhill has a great video on beading:

    https://www.pbs.org/video/the-venerable-bead-rvo9nq/

  15. #15
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    I use whatever I have for flattening a molding plane sole. They don't have to be perfect, but can't have any high spots.

    Here are some pictures from one I reshaped the bottom of, to a shape I needed. Pictures are out of order. Last picture is what I started with. Sorry, I don't have any pictures of the finished product. I put it to work once I got it right. This didn't take long. It took longer to get the iron shaped just right, and sharpened. This was changing an Ovolo, that I have never seen around here, to an Ogee that I needed.

    With a straight edge, you can easily see where the high spots are, and just knock those down.

    I had made a form off the 1850 muntins I was matching with Plumbers epoxy putty, and very thin plastic wrap that I got the sandwich maker at Subway to give me that day.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Tom M King; 03-24-2020 at 4:00 PM.

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