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.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

How To Use Hollows and Rounds: Steps 1

Hollows and rounds have no fence and no depth stop. The lack of these two features is what allows for their flexibility. No fence and no depth stop means that there is no predetermined angle, location or orientation that each plane must be held. With no fence and no depth stop the idea of infinity is introduced.

Hollows and rounds are extremely versatile and seemingly very difficult to steer. If you hold the concave edge of hollow upon a square corner you will be able to make a convex surface.

The likelihood of the beginning equaling the middle, equaling the end, and equaling what you want is slim to none.

Balancing a hollow on a square corner is possible. Now try it with a round. (I will recommend backing the iron off into the plane body. You'll see why.)

Again, hollows and rounds have neither a fence nor a depth stop and that's good. We just need a way to steer these tools.

In the last few posts I fired through laying out a complex profile and then quickly rifled through the creation of what I laid out. You certainly noticed that these two blog posts focused on rabbets with no mention of actually using profiled planes. Rabbets and chamfers dictate the final result and are the key to all of the above obstacles.

Rabbets and chamfers will serve as a fence. Rabbets and chamfers will serve as a depth gauge. Additionally, rabbets and chamfers will remove the bulk of material with an edge that is easier to maintain.

Balancing the convex sole of a round on a single, square point is nearly impossible. Adding a rabbet will give the plane two points upon which to register instead of just one. The rabbet will act as a chute for the plane to ride in and will thus serve as a fence.
Note that the vertex of the rabbet (the inside corner) nearly falls upon the finished profile. This vertex, along with the surrounding vertical and horizontal surfaces, is your depth gauge. If a rabbet is uniform then you shall make it regress uniformly as you progress into your profile.

Let us quickly move to the hollow. We must give this plane two points to register upon in the same fashion we did with the rabbet for the round. Here we are going to add a chamfer.
The plane will register upon the outside edges of the chamfer. Changing the angle of this chamfer will change the angle at which the plane is presented into the wood, which will change your final profile.

The bulk of the steering and manipulation of these tools is done with rabbets and chamfers. Every time you use a hollow start with a chamfer. Every time that you use a round start with a rabbet.

This looks easy, right? Now try it with the appropriately sized planes to make the framing in the previous bedstead illustrated in E. J. Warne's Furniture Mouldings.
We will be using a #2 hollow and round, which cut a radius of 2/16". Good luck!

These tiny profiles are not the easiest place to start. Of course, we didn't start here so go back and read some old posts if you are interested. 

Creating Basic Shapes With A #6 Hollow

All profiles are a series of convex, concave and flat surfaces. Hollows and rounds create exactly this. These profiles are made with the same basic series of steps. You just need to learn the steps. 1, 2, 3...

When you learn the steps with appropriately functioning tools you will be able to decorate your furniture in the manner you see fit, never relying upon either your limited selection of router bits or Woodcraft's. You will never have to let these selections determine your next project or how it appears in low light or with poor photography.
Of course, if you have the shaper knives for one of the profiles above and don't see the difference between the two, that's also fine. Keep making things.

In just a few more posts I will convince you to buy my book or DVD.