22 January 2011

Hollow and round planes

Hollow and round planes are hot thanks to the massive efforts set into the Musings from Big Pink blog.  Hollow and rounds complete the possibilities offered by my Stanley 13-050 Combination Plane,  so it is interesting to look further into the possibilities of these planes.

Matt Bickford not only talks about profile planes the Musings from Big Pink blog,  he also makes and sells all these planes. His standard starter set includes 5 pairs of hollows and rounds (even sizes 2-10), a pair of snipes bill planes and a 7/8” rabbet.

With my Stanley 13-050 I have already a (skated) rabbet plane,  and besides that I also have unfenced wooden rabbets.


So I went hunting for a small set of hollow and rounds on ebay UK and found an old set: 2 hollow, 4 pair, 6 pair, 8 round, 10 pair, 12 hollow, 14 hollow  described by one picture and as 'in need of cleaning as there is some rust'.  To minimize postage costs the planes were sent in two packages.  Alas only one package made it (due to a poorly glued label?),  I got the 10 pair and the 12 (14/16") and 14 (18/16") hollows, the four planes on the right. Two smaller pairs  would have been better to start making profiles, where now I am stuck.

The next step is cleaning and sharpening.  Matt Bickford demonstrates handheld sharpening with flat oilstones, two slipstones for hollows and some leather. A more thorough approach would be viewing the Sharpening Profiled Hand Tools DVD by long time expert Larry Williams.

For now, I settled to removing most of the rust, flattening the back,  partially as the edge seems to stand lower than the rest, probably due to the wear and tear of planing. I am in a too early stage, if ever, for drastic sharpening. Where is the profile planes ruler trick when you need one? I heard that Japanese plane blades are sometimes hammered back. For the round I followed Matt Brickford and sharpened them through a controlled movement on a flat stone. To sharpen the hollows,  I mounted the plane and planed a short profile and covered it with sandpaper.  This is not the perfect profile as a lowered blade has a deeper elliptical profile. Maybe I need a 8, to profile the inside of a hollow 10 etc. (it is clear that I need a full set :). For the wood, I cleaned them up with some (danish) wood soap. And oiled the blades to compensate for the temporary increase of humidity.


To finish my set I need, besides a missing package, snipes bill planes (that's a 90° plane covering a full left or right round) to make deep profiles and these are a different animal. I found them on ebay, but never as a pair.  And apparently making deep profiles hurts as the edges of the blade break.  An alternative is maybe to use a short piece of a heavy saw, setting one side flush and  a steep angle to the bottom.

And planing?  Using wooden profile planes is fun, more than a skated Stanley 050 or a router. Being precise with them is probably a different story.