Moulding Plane Question


Well-known member
I bought this moulding plane thinking I was getting a 1/2" quarter round with a fillet, but (hopefully) as you can see from the photo, the fillet is not perpendicular to the fence.  As a result the fillet is undercut rather than vertical.  I, for the life of me, cannot get this plane to cut this configuration.

Am I doing something wrong?
Has anyone ever seen this configuration?

The condition of this plane has to be rated "near perfect".  I wonder if it has ever been used, but I'm thinking there may be a reason for that.



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I've seen a fair number of british-made planes with this "defect", and I wondered the same thing.  The ones I have that exhibit this characteristic are sash and ogee planes - I've never seen an undercut like this on other profiles, and I have to wonder whether this was an intentional feature whose original purpose is lost to history. 

For example, I can imagine that on your plane the molding it produced was intended to be mounted upside-down on the exterior of a house.  In that case, the undercut fillet would allow water to drip off rather than run down the profile and onto the glazing around a window.

Assuming you don't have a use for such a configuration, you can alter the profile with a rabbet or shoulder plane and re-grind the fillet in the iron to fit.
Hi Chuck, This is one of those follow on tricks.  possibly made for a special job? Then never used again?
And Chuck acquired it.  No recorded  answer.

                                                Joseph Hemingway
Thank you, gentlemen, for the replies. 
Defect, trick, or special job, I wouldn't be so puzzled if I could actually get it to cut the profile it shows.  It won't take much effort to modify the profile of the fillet, but the plane is in such good condition, I didn't want to modiify something that may be of value.
That doesn't appear to be the case.

All of my tools are users.  As I've said before, my shop is too small; there is no room for "pretty faces", except mine, of course :)

Just looks like another British plane that shrunk to me.  That's what happens to quartersawn material.  This is very common on British planes.


I can see what you're talking about but I'd shape the iron to cut a vertical fillet. I don't see why you'd want to undercut the fillet or what difference the out of plumb fillet on the plane's profile would make. To get it to undercut, you'll be cutting on the side of the iron and moving laterally and I don't believe that is what was intended.  As it is, I can see where there would be less problems with shaving ejection and choking.

I doubt there's a problem with shrinkage or wear. I've enlarged your image for a better view and things look pretty crisp to me. Just chamfer you stock a little before you use the plane and you'll avoid future problems.


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Chuck - Regarding value, (at least monetary on the marketplace - sentimental, like passed down from a grandfather, can't be measured) it depends on who made the plane, its condition, the profile, and when it was made.  I think you've already established the condition as "crisp".  The profile is one of the more common ones, but also a profile useful to today's worker, so I'd say this has neither a plus nor a minus to a collector (very complex profiles, or highly desirable ones as a user are worth more - for example, bed molding or bolections bring considerably more than ogees, ovolos, and astragals). 

From the standpoint of the maker and when it was made, the most sure method of dating it is to read the maker's mark and look it up in Goodman's "British Planemakers" book.  The latest edition is the 3rd, which I don't have, but I do have the 2nd edition, and will be glad to look it up for you if you like.

There are clues to the date of manufacture in the style of the plane - early ones typically have round finials; 19th century planes usually have ovoid or elliptical finials.  One also sees differences in the width of the chamfers, whether they're rounded or flat, and how they're terminated on the sides of the plane.  Almost all of the 18th century American molding planes I've ever encountered had flat, broad chamfers, and that's usually the case on British 18th century planes, but not allways - some of the Maddox and Mutter planes I have have distinctly rounded, somewhat narrow chamfers.
I played with the plane a little last night and I realized that there is indeed some shrinkage there.  The profiles of blade and body don't match as well as they should.  I'm not sure that the undercut is due to shrinkage.  As Larry observed, the profile is very crisp and uniform the length of the plane.  But then again??
The blade has a cutting edge on the fillet side and it appears to be mimicking the undercut, but with the whole shrinkage question, I'm going to have to give that a closer look. 

By making a radical adjustment to the blade, I was able to make it cut  something close to the profile that I thought it should cut.  It wasn't perfect, but the profiles do need some adjustment.

BTW It is an Appleton plane - from Boston?

I'll try to post a few more pictures if anyone is interested.

Thanks all,

If the blade profile has an undercut that (more or less) matches the sole, then Appleton probably intended it that way and it's not due to shrinkage. From the photo, your plane does look crisp. So what to do about the undercut problem once you get it fettled properly? 

It seems to me you have one of two choices.  Either square up the fillet with a shoulder or rabbit plane on the sole of the plane, or do the same thing as a last step on the work each time you stuck a molding with this plane. Regardless of your decision, your end result is the same and you’ll have success. If you don't want to "ruin" the plane (being facetious here), then leave it alone and make the adjustment to the profile on your work piece. Or modify the plane so you can skip this step each time you use it. 

There have been seemingly endless discussions on several forums about cleaning, modifying and using old tools (or not) and lots of people have passionate opinions on the matter. But if it's a tool to be used and as it is a common profile with marginal collectable value, then it ought to be a little easier decision to make.

BTW, have you checked Lee Richmond's tips for tuning up molding planes? If not, here it is.

I found this info helpful.

Rick Yochim
Chuck - I looked up your maker in "A Guide to the Makers of American Wooden Planes" - it was apparently made by Thomas Appleton of Boston and/or Chelsea Massachusetts.  Depending on the plane's stamped mark, it would have been made from as early as 1866 to as late as 1895.  AWP notes him as a "prolific" maker, meaning that many of his planes have been found.

This sort of plane, in my opinion, is the se que non of a perfect user - late 19th century, not a rare maker, and a relatively common profile.  In other words, it's not likely that you're going to be wrecking substantial collector's value by altering the sole of the plane.  Obviously, I think anything of this age should be given due respect - sanding the surface with 220 grit sandpaper and coating it with a sickly film of polyurethane would in my book count as "disrespect" - , but I would not hesitate to "tune" such a plane to my purposes.  The only American example that would be a more likely candidate for modification is one made by the late 19th century big factories, such as Sandusky, Ohio Tool, Auburn Tool, T.J. McMaster's Union Factory, etc...
Alright, at the end of the day, after a little fettling (of the blade not the plane), a little fussing with the setup, and some more practice, I can now make this plane cut its profile.  Curiously, even though I swear the blade matches the undercut fillet, it isn't so noticable on the finished moulding.

So I think for now I'll just leave it alone and see how it works out.

Rick,  Thanks for the link to the TBT paper.  That's a good read; good info.  TBT is one of my favorite sights - It only cost me $40.00 to get away from there this time.

David,  Thanks for the historical background on Mr. Appleton. 
The stamp actually looks something like:  THOsL. APPLETON
A curious signature.