Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Thanks Don McConnell

I have started picking away at the sunroom... finally! We just celebrated our Canadian Thanksgiving last weekend, and I was reminded of the fact that my friend Andy helped me install the windows last Thanksgiving. High time to finish this reno project.

The space below the windows is going to be paneled and one of the elements is a small 3/16" bead being used as a divider. This will be a lot clearer once I post photos of the finished panels - but I needed about 50 linear feet of beading. My honest reaction was to look for a 3/16" beading bit for my router. I had a few errands to run and stopped in at a few places to get one. Surprisingly - I could not find one anywhere. I debated on ordering one - but did not want to wait the few days for it to arrive. Then I remembered something... I had a 3/16" bead molding plane! The next thought was recalling Don McConnell’s marvelous DVD, “Traditional Molding techniques: the basics”.

I need to back up a bit.

I have been using molding planes off and on over the years - but I am by no means an experienced or expert user. Part of this is due the lack of information out there on buying (used ones), tuning them, and then using them. Don’s DVD is an excellent introduction to molding planes and how to use them as they were originally intended. It has excellent information and is broken down into very easy to follow, step by step instructions. For me, the biggest value was just to see someone using them (very successfully I might add!). Being shown “it could be done” was the eye opener I needed, and by the time I was home, I was feeling quite happy I did not find that router bit.

One of the topics that Don touched on was stock selection. He did not dwell on it - but as I was watching the DVD I knew this was something I had not paid enough attention to in the past. I had a few very long and thin quarter sawn pieces of cherry that might be suitable. There was one piece that was 1/2" thick, 5" wide and 7' long. It was already dressed and needed a quick pass through the thickness planer to clean it up and get it to the desired thickness. My hope was the quarter sawn stock would allow me to cut two beads sided by side, bandsaw off the 7/8" strip and then saw it in half to yield two individual beads. If it worked - it would be a very efficient use of stock and time not to mention the fact the color would be very consistent.

The quarter sawn stock worked perfectly, and I was able to take a pass on one side, flip the plane around and do another pass on the other side - essentially planing in circles. The quirks lined up perfectly and the grain was behaving. I took fairly light passes just to be safe, but within a few minutes - I had 2 wonderfully polished beads. I flipped the stock end for end and did the other edge which worked just as well.

Here is a shot of the quick and somewhat unconventional setup... but it worked great. I use my bench drawers as a deadman all the time - the thick piece of cherry is used to offer support and to get the work piece to an optimal working height.

A long view of the setup. Note the Halloween treat:)

A shot of the first 4 double beaded strips.

And a shot of the final eight, 7' strips.

I likely spent more time looking for the router bit than it took me to make these 8 pieces. This was a very pleasurable, quiet task and a wonderful reminder that sometimes old school is still faster and more efficient. Thanks again Don for reminding me of this fact.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I recently had a similar experience cutting a profile on some trim for our front entry project. I loved Don's DVD, as well as Larry William's DVD on making hollows and rounds.
Their new DVDs should be out soon. I can't wait.


17 October 2008 at 06:35  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Dan,

Those two are doing the woodworking community a tremendous service. I was not aware there was another DVD coming - Can't wait!


17 October 2008 at 07:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They look good, Konrad. Bet you're glad you couldn't find a router bit.

Cheers ;-)

Paul Chapman

17 October 2008 at 11:59  

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