Friday, May 11, 2018

A Tale of Three 1/2" Beading Planes

I  don't have many moulding planes, but somehow I have three 1/2" side bead planes.  And the funny thing is that I may never need a 1/2" beader with the work I do!

None of these planes is in decent working condition and I wanted to figure out which of the three to put my time into.
Left: E. F. Seybold, center: Ohio Tool Co., right: H. L. James
(all pics below will have same orientation: Seybold on left ...)
The Seybold (Cincinnati) and James (Williamsburg, MA) planes are likely from the 1850 time frame, but the Ohio Tool (Columbus, OH) plane is probably a bit newer.  I had started working on the Seybold, but there are some serious problems that I didn't think were surmountable with my current skill level.  Maybe nobody could.  I might get into details later.

Here are some numbers about these planes.  A minus sign (-) or plus sign (+) after a number means just shy of, or just greater than the dimension given.  I thought it was interesting that there is very little that is standard from company to company in making the planes.

Characteristic E. F. Seybold Ohio Tool Co. H. L. James
Overall Length 9  9/32" 9  9/16" 9  11/16"
Body Thickness 1  1/2"- 1  1/4"- 1  1/4"-
Body Height 3  3/8" 3  7/16" 3  5/16"
Bed Angle 53° 48° 49°
Breast Angle 65° 60° 58°
Left Wall to Mortise (Top) 3/8" 3/8"- 5/16"
Left Wall to Mortise (Sole) 3/8" 5/16" 1/4"
Width of Bead Plus Quirk 1/2"+ 1/2"- 1/2"
Bead diameter (at Heal) 7/16" 15/32" 7/16"
Wedge Thickness 3/8" 5/16" 3/8"-
Iron Thickness at Edge .148" .183" .129"
Iron Thickness Before Tang .124" .157" .103"
Iron Thickness at Back of Tang .076" .103" .086"
Iron Width at Edge 3/4" 5/8"- 5/8"
Boxing Width 5/32" 3/32" 4/32" (1/8")
Boxing Depth 1/2" 5/8" 5/8"
Boxing Type Angled Straight Straight

Here are the soles showing the mouth area.
Thick "blind side" wall on the Seybold
The Seybold has a 3/8" thick "blind side" (left side) wall.  This is close to the same as for the Ohio Tool plane, but look at the difference in width of the "hidden" part of the iron.  That's the part of the iron embedded in the left side of the plane with no exposed edge.  I don't know why there would need to be so much iron not doing any cutting, but the Seybold has about 3/16" there.
Look how much wider the Seybold iron is on the left side
Speaking of the irons, the stats above showed the Ohio Tool iron is quite a bit beefier than the others. Of course, I have no way of knowing if these are original irons - there are no markings on any of them.  Take a look at this side view.
Seybold, Ohio Tool, James
Here's one really interesting thing about the Ohio Tool plane.  Look at the wedge and the shape of the mortise.
Ohio Tool plane (center) wedge has an angled front edge
The others have mortise and wedge with rectangular cross-sections
I've never seen anything like this before.  And I think I really like the design.  As the wedge tightens with the iron, the wedge is forced against the left mortise wall which will help prevent shavings from getting stuck at the spear-point bottom of the wedge.

Now look at this next feature of the Ohio Tool plane.  The part of the breast (front-most part of the mortise) that is not involved with holding the wedge is angled forward.  That is, it is not 90° from the right side of the plane.

Pointing to the part of the breast angle that is angled forward
Added a red line showing relieved angle at outside of breast,
green line shows different angle used at inner part of breast
OK, that was tough putting into words and the pictures don't do it justice.  But hopefully some of you will get the idea.

Here's another interesting thing.  Some planes have angled boxing and others straight.  I'm not certain if there is an advantage either way.
Seybold boxing is angled, others are vertical
The wedges of Seybold and James are very similar with the Ohio Tool wedge having an unusual shape at top (bottom in the picture).
I don't like the shape of the Ohio Tool wedge (middle)
I completely understand having different shapes for the wedges - that can be like a signature.  But I'm still surprised about the many differences in dimensions between these three planes.
Three stooges
Well, there you have it.  After looking at these, I think I'll have the best luck trying to get the Ohio Tool plane back into service.  Not that I have much need for a half inch beading plane ...


  1. Right off the bat, just by looking at your pics, I would pick the center one, the Ohio.
    None of these three makers are uncommon, all three shows as FF (Frequently Found) in my guide, with a few exception, but without a pic of the logo up front, I cannot ascertain more.
    You are right, 1/2 in beads are not very practical for furniture sizes pieces, about 3/8 is the biggest I used, but that did not stopped me from having a "few" sizes :-)

    Bob, sipping coffee

  2. Oh, one last thing. If you are interested in finding and using these wondrous woodies moulders, highly recommend the pocket field book edition of the " A field guide to the makers of American Wooden Planes" from Astragal press. Well worth the small price, and don't leave home without it while looking for some...

    Bob, pushing Matt down the slippery slope :-)

    1. Thanks for the comments, Bob. Not too much risk of me sliding down that slope - I just don't have the space to collect. But if I USE them? Well, that might be a different story!