Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Minor Changes Can Make Big Differences

When taking photos for my last post I stood a few new planes next to the demo tools I made for my business 5-7 years ago. The planes have certainly changed throughout the past 8 years and 4,000 planes (more or less, I've never added them up).

I haven't changed my wedge's finial design in years, but it is different.
(Two old planes in front of two new planes)

My side rounds seem to constantly evolve and still change slightly every year or two.

The mortises remain tight.
(new on left, old on right)

Other facets of the planes, however, still change slightly as I tweak my methods and make still better tools more efficiently. I am, after thousands of planes, still learning about these tools.

Some methods have changed as the business has evolved.

Other methods remain the same as I'll be teaching classes like I have in the past:

But let's try a new venue for teaching now that I have many more years of talking behind me:

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Half Set Of Hollows and Rounds Versus A Full Set

A half set of hollows and rounds often consists of 9 pairs of planes, 18 total, that create a graduating series of radii.

This set, following the numbering system that Old Street Tool recently made uniform, consists of even numbered planes 2-18. A #2 cuts a radius of 2/16" (1/8") a #12 cuts a radius of 12/16" (3/4"). (The numbering system changes [for good reason] above this point when the planes start increasing by 1/8" instead of the previous 1/16".)

A half set of planes often consists of these evenly numbered planes. To round out a half set and make it a full set, you would include the the odd numbers: 1-17. These planes cut radii of 1/16, 3/16, 5/16 and so on.

Blogpost starts here:

I often speak to people who think a half set is a good place to start. After all, it is one half of set.

For me, a half set is unnecessary. To the scale I work, I won't likely use the 18s (R1 1/2"), 16s (R1 1/4"), or 14s (R1"). I certainly do not need the 17s (R1 5/16"), 15s (R1 3/16"), 13s (R1 1/16") or 11s (15/16").

HOWEVER, when you get down to the low end of the range, THINGS CHANGE.

For example, a #12 (R12/16") cuts a radius that is 20% larger than a #10 (R10/16")
It's very different, but still pretty close.

A #11 (R11/16"), however, cuts a radius that is just 10% larger than a #10 (R10/16") and approximately +9% smaller than a #12 (R12/16")

The difference between the 10s and 12s is small, but noticeable. The difference between 10s and 11s or 11s and 12s is even smaller. (I love the idea of copying things exactly, but I can make the small sacrifice of using a 10 or 12 when an 11 is warranted, but that's just me.)

Let's look at the low end of the range now.

A pair of #4s cut a radius of 4/16" and are 100% larger than the #2s that cut a radius of 2/16".

A pair os #1s cut a radius of 1/16" and the #2s are 100% larger than the #1s. This is a big difference.

At the low end of the range the difference between the the hollows and rounds is large and, perhaps, desirable.

A pair of #3s cut a radius of 3/16" and are 50% larger than the #2s that cut a radius of 2/16".  I want a pair of #3s included in my ideal set.

My ideal half set of hollows and rounds would consist of the following pairs: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 and, if I had to choose a 9th pair, 16s. (I'd likely be completely content without the 16s.)

What I'm trying to say is twofold. (1) The odd numbered portion of the set is drastically different at the low end and potentially desirable. (2) I made a pair of right handed 3s when they were supposed to be left handed so you had better send me an email (matt@msbickford.com) stating that you want them before they get stamped with my owner's mark. I really want to keep these [SOLD].

All of that being said, you can make a lot with one pair and exponentially more with two.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Snipes Bill Plane In Use

Here are two quick videos of me using a snipes bill plane to start a rabbet.

In this first video I use the snipes bill plane to define the line first established by my marking gauge. The snipes bill plane will set the gauge line deep into the wood while also widening it, giving me plenty of room for error once I move to the rabbet plane.

In this second video I am using the snipes bill plane on an angled surface. Believe it or not, it is much easier to make this second rabbet than the first (which is still easy.)

There is more information, along with images, here.

(one more pass and I'm complete)

I will be teaching this and much more on November 25-26 at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Details with Hollows and Rounds

The degree of detail to which we woodworkers pay attention varies greatly from person to person and can change quite drastically over the course of a career, be it amateur or professional. At first you may not consider addressing some details, like proportion; at last you have likely stopped paying attention to others, like waxing the inside of bracket ogee feet. The pieces of our puzzle change.

The degree to which one copies period furniture also varies. Some simply use period design elements to make a piece that is new and fantastic. Others will copy the general piece while making it look brand new. Finally, there are those that copy everything, down to the acquired wear and patina from centuries of use and admiration.

In Fine Woodworking's issue #262, Mario Rodriguez wrote an intricate build article entitled "Hudson Valley Chest of Drawers." Being from Hyde Park, home to Val-Kill, which is home to that chest, my interest was piqued. Not only have I been there on several occasions, I wrote an uninspired senior thesis in college that addressed the work occurring at Val-Kill, among other happenings in the Roosevelts’ Hyde Park.

Mr. Rodriguez detailed and copied the chest of drawers to seemingly high perfection. He did, however, take liberties that we as woodworkers/puzzle-piece makers have afforded ourselves. The original piece was made with local pine and labeled “country”. Rodriguez chose to make his primarily out of a likely more appealing wood, walnut.

Rodriguez copied “everything” else about that piece. Except, he didn’t.

        (Illustrated quirked ogee with fillet that went along with the cut list.)

In this article and in regard to the base moulding Rodriguez wrote: “I was unable to match the profile of the chest’s base molding with anything in my collection of router bits, but it turned out I had a molding plane I’d made some years ago that enabled me to produce something very close.”
(Grecian that ultimately had a fillet added)

Rodriguez did not contradict himself with these two statements. His eye is such that he knows that the moulding he added around the base, the substituted decoration, was a copy. To him, it did not need to be exact. The proportions, casting of shadows and general adornment were wholly appropriate. The choice was unnoticeable to everyone except those to whom he chose to illustrate the original moulding instead of what he actually made.
There is a difference between the two profiles and I, with my blog, book and video, will continue to illustrate and demonstrate a series of tools that will allow you to make any moulding that happens along a straight length.

The profile discrepancies may not matter to you. However, maybe those small differences do affect you and preclude you from ever making pieces such as a tall case clock that has several short lengths of potentially highly complex and complementing moulding profiles, among others.

With the correct series of tools, hollows and rounds, coupled with an understanding of the process of how to steer them and create predictable, desirable results, you will have the ability to make the profile you want to make. You will not have to settle with one that is “very close” if that highly specific detail matters to you.

Let us continue to learn how steer a series of planes that have no fences and are seemingly difficult to steer. Let us learn how to gauge progress with tools with no depth stop. Let us learn to make the pieces of the puzzle we want instead of what we have.


Snipes Bill

 #8 Round

#6 Hollow

 (This is when my battery died)


Exactness means different things to different people. The irony of this article is that Rodriguez likely did the same thing those craftsmen at Val-Kill did 75+ years ago: he used a perfectly suitable profile that he had on hand and, as a result, was exact in nature. If, however, you are interested in another form of exactness, the literal, maybe hollows and rounds have a place in your shop.

(Note: and yes, my A/C was on while making this.)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Custom Crown Moulding By Hand

In my previous post I illustrated the execution of a few simple profiles: one concave, convex and flat surface. These modest profiles illustrate the necessary series of steps for guiding hollow and round planes, which have neither fence nor depth stop and are seemingly difficult to steer. Know that hollows and rounds are always guided in the same fashion I presented there, even when making something more intricate.

The process can seem daunting with more complex profiles. A sober mind will soon conclude that the same process, once learned, understood and tried will apply there, here and everywhere.
Hollows will ride the edges of a chamfer to create a convex surface and rounds will ride the edges of a rabbet(s) to make concave faces. Combining these attributes to guide various hollows and rounds will allow you, the end user, to make increasingly complex profiles.

See if you recognize any portion of the process with the following moulding from E. J. Warne’s Furniture Moulding.

When preparing to make this moulding we must first transfer the profile from paper onto wood. Step 1 is “find the flats” of the profile.

From here, having already used a circle template to find the various radii of the circle segments involved, connect the flat surfaces and then add an appropriate series of rabbets for every round to be used.

Once defined, transfer the rabbets to the ends of the final piece and knock off the bulk of the material with your favorite method. If this is a big leap, see here.

All of these rabbets must first be defined with a rabbet plane or other preferred method. See how I did this here.

Start knocking off the edges of those rabbets with the appropriately sized rounds. I used #14 round first.

The round has no fence and no depth stop which, again, is an absolute advantage of the tool. These planes will ride in the rabbets which serve three purposes: removing the bulk of material with an edge that is easiest to maintain, creating a series of chutes for the planes to ride in that substitute for a fence, and giving the user a defined goal that will be a depth gauge.

Add a chamfer for the #10 hollow.

 The chamfer for the #10 will serve the same three purposes as the series of rabbets did for the #14.

#6 round is next, guided by rabbets

Finally, chamfers to guide the #4 hollow

All that is left is a poor miter, a drink,

and a reiteration that the process of steering these planes is easy because it is always the same.