Hollow and Round Moulding Plane Build

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Blog entry by Mattyboy posted 06-22-2015 09:17 AM 8605 reads 19 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After the frustration of eBay, Etsy and tool dealers, I decided to experiment with making my own hollow and round moulding (OK, I’m American but I like the Brit spelling better) planes. Some of you will think I’m a heretic for this, but I made pairs of #6, #8 and #10 by laminating parts together. I am writing this in the hopes it will inspire others to do the same. What follows is the sequence of a typical build.

Since this is an experiment and I’m not trying to make planes that will last a couple hundred years, I’m making it out of wood I had on hand. I got this wood from my sister’s kitchen reno and I’m not sure what it is, but it may be alder. It’s not quartersawn either. I just want to make something functional.

In the following I use the words left and right to mean that part of the plane when looking from the rear towards the front.

1. Cut three parts a little oversized from the length and width dimensions below (to allow for truing up later) from a decent hardwood. ( I used alder?)

a. Left Panel 3/16” x 3 3/8” x 9 1/2”

b. Main Body YYY x 3 3/8” x 9 1/2”, where YYY is the radius of the plane being made

c. Mortise Cover (Handhold right panel) 3/16” x 1 1/4” x 9 1/2”

2. Knife a line on the sole of the main body 3 1/2” from the front. This is the bed line. Knife a line 3/16” forward of that line. This is the breast line.

3. Knife a line on the right side of the main body, from the bed line and 62° towards the heel, to the top edge. (I know there are other angles I could use, but I’m copying an old moulder that I have.) See above photo.

4. Square this line across the top.

5. Knife a line 1” forward of this line on the top, square to the body.

6. On the right side of the main body, connect this line with the breast line on the sole. Lines shown in above photo. It is important to perform these layout steps before cutting apart the main body.

7. Lay out a rabbet on the upper right part of the main body.

a. Mark a line along top 3/16” from the left side and extend the line 1 1/4” down the toe and heel ends.

b. Mark a line on the right side of the main body 1 1/4” from the top and square this line onto the toe and heel ends to meet the previous line. This line can be seen in the photo above.

8. Chisel on waste side of the bed and breast angle lines to create a channel for a saw and saw out the mortise area of the main body.

a. Plane the sawn surfaces to make them smooth and square to the sides of the main body. I used a shooting board, with parts held manually.

9. Cut out the rabbets on the two main body pieces.

a. Using the marking gauge set as earlier, mark the 3/16” line on newly sawn and planed edges on main body parts.

b. Saw on waste side of the layout lines. Then clean up with shoulder and router planes.

10. Place the main body parts on the left panel and pencil the bed and breast angles onto the left panel (to aid in glue-up).

11. Before gluing the main body to the left panel, mark the heel and toe ends for the center of a circle that will describe the round profile. This is not needed for the hollow plane as that profile will be cut by the round plane.

a. Set a marking gauge to mark the center of the thickness of the main body and mark a line on heel and toe ends.

b. Set a marking gauge about 1/32” more than the intended radius of the plane, register on the sole and mark across the heel and toe ends.

c. The intersection of these two lines is the center of a circle that describes the radius of the plane. Use a metal dividers or compass to mark the profile on heel and toe. I found that scribing with dividers left a better mark than the pencil of a compass.

12. Glue the heel end (or toe end, doesn’t matter) to the left panel, aligning with the previously marked pencil line.

13. Glue the toe end to the left panel, aligning with the previously marked pencil line.

14. After the glue has set, use a shoulder plane to get the heel section rabbet and toe section rabbet aligned with each other (co-planar). Don’t forget this!

15. Glue the mortise cover / handhold right panel into the rabbet area, keeping it tight into the corner of the rabbet.

16. Plane the top, sole and ends flat, square and straight (heel and toe should still retain profile layout marks).

17. Shape the sole of the round plane.

a. From the layout lines made earlier, use a pair of dividers or a compass to scribe an arc. Use the intersection of the vertical and horizontal layout lines as the center of the circle.

b. Use plane of your choosing to round the sole to the layout lines. Go slow and careful here. Scrape and sand to fine tune.

18. Shape the handhold.

a. Round the top of heel (approx 3/4” radius).

b. Typically there is a chamfer extending about 3/8” to 1/2” onto sides and 1/16” on top and ends. They are rounded near top. This is for comfort and can be seen (maybe) in the above photo.

19. Chisel the upper escapement ramp (right side of handhold just above mortise area). Start about 1/2” above the bottom of the mortise cover / handhold right panel. Leave about 1/16” thickness at lowest point.

20. Shape the wedge(s). a. This must be fine-tuned to get a tight fit when iron is in place.

21. Shape the round iron first.

a. With the iron in the plane, mark the outline of the profile directly on the iron on both front and back (though can usually only see the back when shaping).

b. It can be helpful to mark a few profiles, each after extending the iron and additional 1/16” out of the body. This gets “parallel” curve guidelines.

c. Put the iron in a vise at approx. 30° angle and hacksaw several kerfs down to the appropriate layout line. (I don’t have a grinder – give me a break!) This will save the lifetime of your files immensely.

i. Note: plane irons from Lie-Nielsen are laser cut, which causes a very tough outer layer on the edges that is hard to file.

d. File the kerfs away to rough out the shape. Fine tune with sandpaper on a stick or smoother files.

e. Place the iron in the plane and check the iron with the sole, take iron out and file more, then check again, file again, check again, file again … until the iron profile matches the plane’s sole.

f. Once the profile is right, flatten and hone the back and hone the bevel, careful not to undo the perfect profile. Polish on strop. I really suck at this curved iron sharpening stuff.

22. Using the round plane, shape the profile on the sole of the hollow plane.

a. Clamp the hollow plane upside down in a vise.

b. Clamp a flat board (fence) onto the right side of the round plane so that the board extends about 1.5 -2” below the cutter. Wish I had gotten a picture of this.

c. Register the fence against the right side of the hollow plane and plane from toe to heel to create the hollow profile.

i. It was helpful to mark pencil lines across the sole of the hollow plane to make it easier to monitor progress.

23. Mark and shape the hollow iron, similarly to how the round was done.

24. Heat-treat and temper the irons.

25. Oil the planes and wedges. Photo shows pair of #10 planes drying after third coat of BLO.

26. Fine tune the irons (if needed) in the finished planes.

Here is my initial pass at a moulding profile:
Oops, can’t seem to load any more pics.

This is my first LJ post of any kind. I hope I have placed it in the right area. This could have been in “Projects”, but seemed more like a tutorial blog. Please advise. Also, I welcome any comment and critiques, suggestions for better methods, etc.

A question: I know you should never wax the inside of the mortise, but do you oil the inside? I did not.

-- Matt, Northern CA

7 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17506 posts in 3831 days

#1 posted 06-22-2015 11:04 AM

Ack! Need pic of finished plane, because the build-ups look great!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3174 days

#2 posted 06-22-2015 12:59 PM

Very nicely done, thanks for the info. This is a great place for the detailed information, then also add a project page for it with finished pictures and a link to this blog.

How did you handle spring angle? Is the plane even sprung at all?

View waho6o9's profile


9055 posts in 3790 days

#3 posted 06-22-2015 04:15 PM

Excellent work Matty!

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4547 days

#4 posted 06-23-2015 07:50 AM

Looks very nicely crafted. Personally I would leave the mortise dry to give the wedge better bite.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Mattyboy's profile


50 posts in 2291 days

#5 posted 06-23-2015 04:58 PM

Thanks everybody.

Tim, if I can figure out how to post this as a project and link to this blog, then I will. I’m not so good at those things.

Mike, thanks for the input. That’s just what I was thinking and the feedback I was looking for

-- Matt, Northern CA

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1374 posts in 2926 days

#6 posted 09-30-2015 07:06 PM

Great description! Need a special moulding plane for an upcoming project and searched around a bit. This was just the information i needed. Thanks!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View RLA1974's profile


19 posts in 1784 days

#7 posted 11-20-2020 03:07 PM

These look great. Thank you for the detailed description – you work is definitely worth emulating. I share your exasperation with online auctions. I’m in the process of trying to build a plow plane for the same reason.

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