Restoring a Beading Plane

Beading planes are some of the most common molding planes you’ll run across while hunting for old tools at antique shows. I found this 3/16″ beading plane in Augusta, GA for just $14.00. Some people feel that it isn’t worth the time and effort to tune up old molding planes like this however, with a few simple steps, you can easily bring these guys back to life.

An important thing about buying an old molding plane that you want to use is to buy one that is in good shape. You need to make sure that the plane’s body is straight and the boxwood is in good shape (if there is any). If the body is curved or the boxwood is missing, then it’s best not to even bother with it as it will be too much work than it’s worth.

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When you decide that the plane is worth restoring, the first step is to clean off the dirt. With a little elbow grease and some steel wool, you can clean the body of the plane in no time flat. It took me about ten minutes to get rid of all the dirt and grime.

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After everything is clean, I coat the plane body with my homemade oil and beeswax. Now, if all I wanted to do is display this on my shelf and collect dust I’d be done, but I want to put this baby back to work so, I need to work on the blade.

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To start cleaning the blade, I soak it in a solution of water and a little bit of citric acid. After an hour, I took the blade out and scrubbed off all the rust with a fine sanding sponge.

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Once the rust is removed, I sharpen the blade by honing the back over a series of sand paper and water stones. I started with 400 grit sand paper then move to 1000 grit, to 4000 to 12000 grit water stones. Only takes a few minutes to go through the process.

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After the back is honed, I sharpen the bevel angle and the profile of the cutter with 800 grit sand paper. Chances are, the profile of the iron is still in good shape when compared to the profile of the bed of the molding plane. If the profile of the blade is out of whack with the plane bed, then you’ll have to re-grind the shape of the iron to match the bed which is a taunting task, but I doubt you’ll have to do that if you took the time to examine the plane well before you bought it.

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With the blade sharp and back in the plane, I tap the iron down until enough of the edge is popping out of the bed to make a nice cut.

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With a little effort, you’ll have a nice plane that’s a joy to use and much easier to make a bead on a piece of wood that using a router.

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