How to Use & Sharpen Molding Planes

Molding_Planes_Opener

Many woodworkers have a molding plane or two in their shop. They were handed down from earlier generations or picked up at an antique sale or store. And if you’re lucky, the plane wasn’t beat to pieces and the blade was never sharpened by someone who lacked the necessary knowledge.

In my opinion about 25 percent of the antique molding planes still around have damage to the either the mouth, which is often erroneously enlarged in an attempt to reduce or eliminate clogs, or to the wedge and its shaped finial. If the finial is not cracked off due to being whacked to try to loosen the wedge, the wedge itself is mistakenly thinned for a better fit.

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(Fig. 1) Grinding molding-plane blades is how to bring the cutter back to life, but before you jump in you should know a few things so that you don’t ruin the blade or it’s temper.

One of the most-often confusing attributes about molding planes to an inexperienced woodworker – and a huge problem when it comes to properly sharpening these tools – is that the profile of the iron is not a match to the profile of the bottom of the plane. Because the blades are laid over at an angle, the shape of the cutting edge has to be adjusted to provide the wanted design. The best way to see this is to examine a beading plane – the shape of the blade’s cutting edge has the bead elongated. It’s not a straight bead.

After you understand how to obtain the proper profile of the blade, you’ll need a way to sharpen it. You can sharpen molding-plane blades by hand; it was done for hundreds of years. But today most of us use a grinding wheel of some kind. (Fig. 1) There are a few things to know as you sharpen plane blades on a wheel. The most important is to take it slow. Nothing about the process I share is quick. If you work fast, you could easily turn your plane or blade into rubbish.

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7 thoughts on “How to Use & Sharpen Molding Planes

  1. Ron. That was really good. I have been sharpening molding planes for years and learned a lot from this video. What I learned included a real basic item like the thickness of the grinding stone and the simple way to mark the profile. This was exceptional. It was worth waiting years to see this.

    Bob

  2. Thanks Ron:

    I collect them and this video helps alot

    Leo

  3. Ron, Well done.i love learning about moulding planes.
    Ho about the pink wheel? Do you have a supplier.?

  4. I don’t have any molding planes but still found this really interesting.
    Thanks Ron.

  5. Ron, Well done.i love learning about moulding planes.
    How about the pink wheel? Do you have a supplier.?

    1. Elmer,

      I don’t recall if it made the final cut or not, but I think Ron said he got the wheel at McMaster-Carr.

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