Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 2, Issue 3
January 2008
Tuning and Using Molding Planes
  Editor's Note: The following is the final article in a series of two. The first can be found in Volume 2, Issue 1.


The first article in this series introduced molding planes—their design, how to assign a date of manufacture and what features to look for when purchasing. In this second part, I'll discuss appropriate cleaning methods, tuning and sharpening tips and techniques for making moldings.

Regardless of when it was made, any molding plane is an historical artifact that deserves to be treated with care. Clean gently.

  • Release the wedge to remove the iron from the body. Usually, you can simply pull it out; if persuasion is required, lightly rap on the plane heel using a wooden mallet. Cup your hand underneath the mouth to catch the blade should it fall. If the wedge is jammed, don't strike the finial; instead, clamp the wedge in a vise and drive the body off.
  • You may find a number pencilled on the wedge edge, which is also filed in Roman numerals on the blade tang. Take care not to erase it during cleaning. Because of the handwork involved, even planes made concurrently varied slightly. Numbering allowed the maker to keep track of matched components.
  Wedge and blade
The wedge (top) is from an 18th century plane and has the number eight written on it in pencil. The blade (bottom) is from the same plane; the Roman numeral eight is filed into the tang.

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