How we make beads today is almost exactly how it was done in the period. (The one major difference, as you may expect, is beading produced with a motorized router; I have to admit that’s how most of my beading is made.). If, however, you take away the power tool, the most well known methods to make bead are to use a scratch and a beading plane. But you shouldn’t forget about a beading shave, shown in the opening photo. (Click any image to open the photo for a better view.). Beading shave, you ask. This old hand tool was new to me.
If you’re into woodworking hand tools, you may be thinking about Stanley’s beading tool. (A fine example is shown below in a photo taken from Jim Bode’s site, which is a great website to buy tools of all kinds, and to research areas of interest.) I was familiar with the Stanley #66 beader, and some of the newer versions based off the old tool. Using the #66, to me, is more akin to using a scratch stock. Position the tool, tip the blade onto your stock and drag the setup down the edge of your work. Also, blades on the #66 have the profiles set at 90° to the blade – just as you would when preparing a shop-made scratch – and you can locate the profile anywhere along the base of the tool.
But the Preston shave that Ron Herman handed to me was different. On the Preston shave, the blades – yes, it uses two blades that are mirror images of one another (more on that in a minute) – are locked into position at the center of the tool. They can be adjusted up and down for depth of cut, but they do not slide side to side. This tool is designed to be used at the edge of a workpiece.
Additionally, the blades are sharpened as you would the blade for a side-beading plane. The tool is made to cut versus scratch. And that brings us back to the two blades. One profile is to cut in one direction, and the opposing blade cuts in the opposite direction. If you’re working in nasty-grained woods, you can reverse the tool in your hands to allow yourself to work with the grain instead of against it.
To learn more about beads and the tools we use to make them, check out this week’s article from 360 Woodworking. If you’re a member, click here. If you’re not yet a member, click here to read some of the article, or here to sign up to become a member. You’re going to do it. You might as well do it today.