Friday, June 9, 2017

Rehab a Side Bead Plane - Part 2, Reshaping the Profile

Part 1 of this series ended with the plane cleaned up and the boxing shimmed and glued back in place.  This post will deal with the re-shaping of the sole and to do that, I thought a sketch would be helpful.
Schematic of rear end of beading plane (iron not shown)
This model is not necessarily to scale; it is simply meant to aid in the discussion.  I'm borrowing heavily from Bill Anderson's excellent article on restoring beading planes.

In the drawing, you'll see that the fence is merely an extension of the bead profile.  The planes I've obtained all have their boxing vertical, though other planes have the boxing slanted at an angle towards the left.  Note that part of the boxing is shaped and the entire quirk is from boxwood.

If you think about how a beading plane works, it makes sense that certain features should be properly done so that the plane cuts nicely.
  • The fence should be straight.  On many old planes, the fence is worn at the toe and at the heel.
  • The right side of the quirk should be parallel to the fence.
  • The bottom of the quirk should be parallel to the depth stop.
  • The deepest part of the bead profile should be parallel to the depth stop.
To get these things right, you have to start with a reference surface.  So I flattened the left side of the plane ...
Checking left side for twist - lookin' pretty good
... and then planed the sole straight and square to the left side.
Squaring the sole to the left side
Getting the sole flat and square doesn't make it into my bullet list above.  The sole won't affect how the plane works, but it's crucial to getting all the other features in the right condition.

I took a very thin shaving or two from the fence to straighten it a bit, but didn't get a picture.  I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to get the profile right if I plane the fence too much.

The shims that I added to the sides of the boxing gave it more thickness to plane parallel to the fence. I was glad to have had the extra thickness and it planed easily with a shoulder plane.
Maple shims glued to side of boxing, but not yet planed parallel to fence
I planed down the quirk parallel to the fence, checking with a small square that referenced off the sole.
Checking quirk for parallel to sole
By planing the quirk down, it revealed a wider surface that I could later shape the bead detail into. You can see in the second picture above (the one showing the maple shims glued in) that the boxing is proud of where it was previously - note how the bead profile is not continuous.

OK, so the picture doesn't show that so good.  Here's a drawing of what I'm talking about - the boxing is proud of the rest of the profile due to the shim deep in the boxing's groove.
Drawing showing shim at bottom of groove that makes the boxing proud of where it used to be
Here's the shim I glued on to the bottom of boxing
No pictures here, but I also planed the fence parallel to the sole.  I checked it with a small square, just like I did with the quirk.

With those surfaces prepared, next was to reshape the bead.  So I shaped a piece of saw steel with hack saw and files to make a scratch stock cutter.  I did my best to refine the curved section on my diamond stones to remove any file marks.
3/16" diameter profile at left for the H. L. James plane, 1/4" diameter marked out at right for another plane
Cutter mounted in the scratch stock
Here's another good reason why the left side of the plane needed to be flat: the scratch stock needs to reference off it when cutting the profile.
Scratch stock referencing off left side of plane
Setting the cutter was trial and error.  I had to eyeball how straight it was - I don't want to shape a bead profile that's at an angle to the plane!  The cutter needed resetting at it cut deeper, but it did a great job of cutting a consistent bead profile.
Bead profile after using scratch stock
Finally, I sanded the bead profile with a sanding block and sandpaper.  The thickness of the block was equal to the 3/16" diameter of the bead profile minus two thicknesses of sandpaper.
Sanding the bead profile smooth
Well, that's it for the shaping part.  Very interesting and fun, if not a little nerve wracking.  Next time I'll post about getting the iron in order and making the first cuts.


  1. Its looking really good. Nice work. I bet it will be working like new in no time.

    1. Thanks, Greg. I'm finding out that it doesn't matter how good you get the plane body if you can't get the iron right. I'll post on that next time.

  2. Thanx for the link to Bill's article on the planes. I didn't know about it at all and it explains a few problems I'm having with one of my beading planes. And of course it's the one I really like too.

    1. That article was amazing! Talk about exactly what I needed to know for these planes ... Great stuff.