Rabbet Moulding Plane Iron

//Rabbet Moulding Plane Iron
Rabbet Moulding Plane Iron2015-10-03T14:07:17+00:00
  • Creator
  • #2027296

    Post count: 12

    Hi Guys,

    Wrestling with some moulding planes here (is it molding or moulding or both?  I have a 1/2″ rabbet moulding plane and when I look down the length of the plane the iron sticks up on one side more than the other.  This causes a rabbet that is sloped to the outer edge of the wood.  I have tried to right it using the wedge but it keeps slipping to the left.  Taking the iron out of the plane  the edge does favor being higher on one side than the other.  Since I am not that familiar with moulding planes yet I have hesitated to do the obvious and regrind the iron edge to be straight across and then resharpened.  I cannot think of any reason for the edge of the iron to be higher on one side than the other, other than the owner of the plane before me would have made it this way for what ever reason.  I have seen planes that are skewed across the edge to cut smoother, but this is not the case with this plane.  Any thoughts out there?


  • Author
  • Mike in TN
    Post count: 289

    The terms (molding and moulding) have come to be used interchangeably. I prefer to say,  ” I have moulding planes and some of them are molding because of the damp basement.” Actually none of my planes are molding. It might be an English vs. an American woodworking term issue such as rebate vs. rabbet or plough vs. a plow planes.

    What you are referring to is actually a joinery plane not a moulding plane. There should be a little wiggle room in the fitting of the blade (sometimes referred to as an “iron”) to allow for alignment of the side of the blade with the side of the plane. You actually want the edge of the blade projecting a very tiny amount on the “wood side” of the cut. On non-skewed rabbet planes the edge normally should be square with the blade body. Check to see that the plane sole is flat and square and that the blade bed is square to the sole and sides. If everything matches up and wedge fits well then the issue has to be the alignment . Make sure the blade is not bent in a way to prevent good contact with the bed and wedge. It isn’t unusual to see blades ground out of square on old planes and the resulting difficulties in use often led the previous owners to lay the planes up and not use them. Because of this they didn’t become worn out and we still have them to enjoy. We still have to correct the issues if we expect to use them and that requires changes to the plane. I have seen planes with bed issues and the simplest fix was to purposefully grind the blade to match. It might be that the blade you have was not original to the plane.

    You might hunt for a local woodworker that has experience with traditional tools to help you diagnose and correct the issue. Bill Andersons videos could probably help you out too.

    Have fun.

  • Don
    Post count: 12

    Thanks Mike

    I think I will regrind the iron so it is parallel to the plane body.  I do not yet have the experience with these old planes to confidently alter them.  I imagine that these planes have traveled through many owners and they were tweaked, so to speak, for their individual purposes.  Again, thanks.



  • Mike in TN
    Post count: 289

    Altering Tools


    It sounds to me like you are on the right track and using the plane should help you figure out if any additional work is needed. If it works well then why alter it? With a few exceptions, run-of-the-mill old tools should be used, if possible, and not just shelved. Most of these were probably churned out by the thousands, if not millions and have probably been altered (fettled, tuned )in some way, even if it was just a sharpening, a name stamp, or the flattening of the sole that nearly all wooden planes needed throughout their lives. Don’t assume the previous owners tweaked them for the better though because a lot of folks would just take a stab at it and then just give up if things didn’t work out. Wooden planes do move some with moisture changes and the soles and boxing tend to wear. That is one reason why a lot of these old tools are still with us.

    We all go through a learning process and I find myself returning to some of the tools I have had for a while to retune them based on new knowledge or maintenance. A person has to know their limits and if you don’t feel comfortable doing the work you can always go back to it later. Best to do the minimum and revisit the tool if need be.

    When I first got interested (many thanks to Roy Underhill) knowledge about hand tool woodworking was nearly impossible to come by and we are truly living in a golden age of information about the subject. Learning about the craft, the associated history, the personalities, and the tools is such an enjoyable pursuit.

    The good news is that there are tons of the good old stuff still available and they are not generally terribly expensive so even if you make a minor mistake you can probably correct it or replace it at a reasonable cost. We never like to loose a tool but tools were made to work. There are a few real collectables still out there and a person should do some research to figure out if they have a true museum piece. In that case you should find a true collector or a museum and replace the tool  with a user tool. I have some older pieces and some of the items I have are in demand but they are still just user tools, some more expensive than others but none that can’t be found on EBay if your pockets are deep. So if you are a collector, don’t fettle. If you are a user, get user tools and fettle them as needed and as your skill level allows. If you do both, decide which are your user tools and which are your collectables, and treat them accordingly.

    Wooden rabbet planes are a good place to start because they are so useful, simple, basic, and widely available. I think I have about ten of them now (I didn’t go count them), both straight and skewed, and the last couple I picked up were only around ten dollars each.

    Have fun

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Log In

Wood and Shop in your inbox?

Subscribe to get Joshua's free traditional woodworking videos, articles & news:

You have Successfully Subscribed!