Monthly Archives: May 2016

Side Bead Planes

Side beads, or beading planes, are used to put a bead along the edge of a board, and can be used in many situations, such as back boards, the bottom of table aprons, or along shelf fronts. A very versatile plane, these were, along with hollow and rounds, perhaps the most common molding plane produced.  These are one of the easiest molding planes to use, with an integral fence and depth stop, and no spring.  (The plane is held vertically.)   Simply hold the plane against the edge of the stock being profiled, and make passes until the depth stop prevents any further cutting.  For a different treatment, running the plane along two sides of a corner will produce a 3/4 bead on that corner.

Our planes are made of  quarter sawn American Beech.  The tapered O-1 tool steel iron is bedded at 55 Degrees for use in hardwoods, and is sharp and ready to use.  The bead is boxed with persimmon, which is cut with the grain on a bias to match the bed, to ensure a long tool life.  We produce these planes in 1/8″, 3/16″ and 1/4″ beads, the most common and useful for furniture use.   It should be mentioned that our sizing is a measurement of the bead itself, and that the actual profile, including the quirk, is about 1/32″ wider than the bead size.  Thus the 1/8 is 5/32″ wide, the 3/16 is 7/32″, and the 1/4 is 9/32″.

Finish is Minwax Antique Oil Varnish, with a coat of paste wax added for a smooth even sheen and inviting feel.

Side bead planes in, from left, 1/8′,   3/16″ and   1/4″ sizes.

After the initial run of these planes, some refinements were made.  The wedges now graduate in size from 5/32″ to 7/32″.  This makes the planes have a more uniform appearance, but more importantly, they are narrower in width in the grip, which makes them lighter and lowers the center of gravity.  Easier to use with better feel and less fatigue  are the end result.

Price is $275 per plane.  Each is sharpened and test cut before shipping, making them ready to go right out of the box.  Currently, the 1/4″ size is available here.


Graduated wedge sizes are apparent in this view.


Heels are stamped with sizes.


Planes are 10″ long with a 55 degree bed angle.  Note the chamfer at the escapement, which makes it easier to locate the iron against the blind side when setting up.


Beads cut with all three sizes of beading planes.


Beech Billets for Plane Making


Billets are again in stock.

In the past, the preferred wood for making wood bodied planes has been American Beech. (Fagus grandifolia)  Beech has the qualities sought after for plane making, with the right combination of hardness, a tight grain, good wear characteristics,  and the ability to quickly acclimate to its environment.  Old Street Tool has a good article that goes into depth about beech as a plane making wood here.

The big challenge is finding beech in any form, let alone quarter sawn thick stock.  I have had the good fortune to find a sawmill willing to cut and dry beech to my specifications.  I expect this sawmill to be a regular supplier for me, and because I am buying large quantities at a time, it seemed appropriate to offer billets to plane makers who want just enough to make their own planes.  these are available now in the store.

Bench plane billets have been sized for common Try, Jack, and Smoother planes. This wood has been dried in a vacuum kiln, and has a moisture content of 6-8%.  All stock is rough sawn, and dimensions given are rough sizes.  Some blanks may be bigger than the stated size, as I tried to measure the smallest ones. The Try and Jacks include wood for both a tote, and a wedge, both quarter sawn.  The totes are approximately 5 3/8″ (quarter sawn direction) x 6″ x 1 1/4″ thick.  Wedge stock is about 2 3/4 plus” wide for the larger planes and 2 1/8″ for the smoothers. (Quarter sawn direction) x 3/4″ x 8″, leaving enough to hold onto while shaping.  The quartered grain on the billets and wedges is within 15 degrees or better of true quarter sawn.  The handles may vary more than that, but quartered grain here is not as critical. The billets and wedges are primarily sapwoood, but may contain some heart wood at the top.  Wedges and totes also are mostly sap wood.

Moulding plane billets are cut to make side escapement planes, and also include wedge stock.  These measure 11″ x 3 1/2+” in size, and currently come in five widths:  3/4″,  1″,  1 1/4″,  1 1/2″,  1 3/4″.  These are oversize, and will finish at the advertised thicknesses.  These billets are not all perfectly quarter sawn, with some having grain approaching rift sawn. (See photo below of the end of the billets.) This is an issue I am addressing with my sawyer for future cutting to obtain more quartered grain.  However, an examination of antique planes will show it was quite common for planes to be less than quartered grain. These contain both sap wood and heart wood.  They may also contain some spalting, but the wood is sound, and the sole of the plane will be spalt free.

All pieces are guaranteed to be sound wood, free of knots, checks, splits or worm holes.

Please note:  Because of the size and weight of these billets, shipping costs are fairly high.  We do not mark up shipping costs, and these rates reflect what we pay for labels.  Thank you for your understanding.


VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Bench Plane Billets

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Moulding Plane Billets

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Large Moulding Plane Billets

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Various sizes of billets available. Rough cut length is shown.